Tsunesaburo Makiguchi
Value-Creating Education

Rather than provide knowledge itself, we must encourage the joy and excitement that arise from learning.

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Tsunesaburo Makiguchi
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Life's Values...

Makiguchi was careful, however, to distinguish between happiness and pleasure. Makiguchi was almost 60 when the first volume of his pedagogy was published and he had experienced his share of professional setbacks and frustrations, as well as such personal tragedy as the deaths of three children. Authentic happiness had to be defined in terms that were deeper and more enduring. Makiguchi found this in the realm of "value," whose nature he termed "the most immediate and crucial question of our daily lives." 1 "Just as good, beauty and gain are values, happiness is equally value; as a concept, happiness includes, embraces and integrates these other values." 2

With girls from Shirokane Elementary School school c.1930 (2nd row, 5th from left)

Looking concretely at the different forms of value that together constituted happiness for Makiguchi, "beauty" is esthetic value that enhances specific aspects of the individual's life; "gain" refers to all that concretely enhances the entirety of an individual's existence; and "good" is that which enhances the life of an entire community or society. Here, also, value does not point to something abstract or disembodied, but to the positive transformation of our actual experience of life. Strengthening the capacity of people to create value (to effect the positive transformation of reality) was thus for Makiguchi the ultimate goal of educational efforts. Soka is an abbreviated form of the expression kachi sozo (value creation) which Makiguchi adopted at the suggestion of his disciple Jogai (Josei) Toda; soka, the creation of value, became the heart of his educational philosophy and of the larger movement and organization he founded.

The philosophy of value creation stresses the autonomous capacities of learners. For Makiguchi, children were anything but empty vessels to be filled with the knowledge prescribed for them by adults. Children arrived in the classroom already possessing experience, knowledge and a capacity to learn.

The aim of education is not to transfer knowledge; it is to guide the learning process, to equip the learner with the methods of research. It is not the piecemeal merchandizing of information; it is to enable the acquisition of the methods for learning on one's own; it is the provision of keys to unlock the vault of knowledge. Rather than encouraging students to appropriate the intellectual treasures uncovered by others, we should enable them to undertake on their own the process of discovery and invention. [1934]3

Makiguchi thus urged teachers to "humbly recognize and assume the role of assisting and supporting the activities of the learner as a helper, guide or midwife." 4 While stressing the inherent limits on the role to be played by the teacher, Makiguchi in no way sought to underplay either the importance or the challenges involved in fulfilling that role.

Of all life's undertakings, education is an exercise in technical capacity, in artistry, of the highest order of difficulty; only a person of the most superlative talents and qualities can succeed. I base this assertion on the fact that education has as its object life itself, an unsurpassed treasure for which no replacement can be found. [1934]5