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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Value-Creating Pedagogy

The four volumes of Soka kyoikugaku taikei (The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy)

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi published the first volume of Soka kyoikugaku taikei (The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy) on November 18, 1930, when he was 59. Makiguchi was still active as principal of the Shirokane Elementary School and it was difficult for him to devote himself full-time to the work of putting his educational theories into writing. He thus asked his young disciple, Jogai (Josei) Toda (1900-58) to help in the work of compiling and editing the book, based on the outline Makiguchi had developed and his extensive body of notes. Makiguchi is said to have always carried a notepad with him made from advertising fliers and other pieces of scrap paper. He would use this to jot down thoughts that came to him during the course of his day or to copy passages from books, newspapers or periodicals that he found relevant to or illustrative of his ideas. He describes this process in the introduction to the Pedagogy.

This work is nothing other than the accumulation of notes of the reflections and ideas that have arisen in the day-to-day effort to fulfill my professional duties. Like a miser stingily saving every penny, and fearful of the dispersal and loss of the droplets of thought that traffic through daily life I have written these down and, with more than 30 years having passed since I first started life as an educator, these have piled up to become a veritable mountain of scrap paper. Looking them over after the fact, there are of course things of little interest. But among them there are more than a few that I cannot bear to discard. Thinking that, if put into order, these thoughts could be useful in some manner, I have not been able to bring myself to turn them over to the scrap-paper dealer. At times, these notes have become the nesting site for mice, drawing complaints from my family. [1930]1

Makiguchi's motivation in writing this book is also expressed with passion in the introduction:

I am driven almost to distraction by the intense desire to prevent the present deplorable situation--ten million of our children and students forced to endure the agonies of cutthroat competition, the difficulty of getting into good schools, the "examination hell" and the struggle for jobs after graduation--from afflicting the next generation. I cannot afford to attend in any way to the vagaries of praise or censure, the opinions and judgments of the world. [1930]2

Makiguchi and Toda c.1930

Makiguchi contrasted his approach with the abstract and disembodied philosophies of education predominant in Japan at the time. Where these tended to start and "work down" from universal, philosophical statements about human nature and children, Makiguchi urged teachers to be keen observers of the actualities of their day-to-day classroom experience. In his view, any effective theory of education would have to be "built up" from the carefully recorded evidence of actual practice. In particular, he hoped that educational professionals would regain confidence in the validity of their own experience and the lessons derived from this.

Here I wish to call out to those involved in the work of education: Correct your uncertain stance of advancing with your gaze fixed on the stars; attend, rather, to the ground on which you tread! If you reflect deeply on your daily experience, confirming the actual record of success and failure, carefully analyzing this process, you will be able to discover truly precious truths. Abandon an exclusive and meaningless reliance on the research of scholars in book-lined rooms. Bring together your own treasured experiences; synthesize and establish from these clear principles; test and verify these within your daily labors as a teacher, bequeathing to the next generation laws and principles of real worth. This is the great and weighty mission that has been given to the educational practitioners of the present day; your efforts will ensure the future growth and development of education. [1930]3