Cross-Cultural Education Symposium on Parker, Dewey, Makiguchi and Ikeda Held in Chicago, USA
On March 26, 2011, DePaul University School of Education and Francis W. Parker School sponsored the symposium, "Reuniting Parker, Dewey, Makiguchi and Ikeda: Education for Community and Citizenship across Language and Culture." Panelists examined the contributions and continuing relevance of the signal educational perspectives of four educators, two American and two Japanese: Francis W. Parker, John Dewey, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Daisaku Ikeda.
Among the seven panelists was Professor William H. Schubert of the College of Education at University of Illinois at Chicago and Takao Ito, director of the Japanese Center for Dewey Studies/Soka Education Research Institute at Soka University in Japan. The scholars discussed the primary goals, principles and practices shared by Parker, Dewey, Makiguchi and Ikeda, which include fostering an altruistic spirit of contribution in the service of others.
Education must transcend "a mere interest in national competitiveness," said Shubert, developing "an image of citizenship that is world-focused and oriented to the cultivation of humanity."
Parker (1837-1902) pioneered the progressive school movement that has as its goal the comprehensive development of a learner, from the mental and physical to the ethical; he founded the Francis W. Parker School in 1901. Dewey (1859-1952) was perhaps the movement's premier spokesperson. Ikeda founded the Soka (value-creating) education system based on Makiguchi's student-centric pedagogical approach.
According to a document recently translated into English, Makiguchi had been inspired after reading an educational treatise by Parker in 1897. "I intend to continue my studies with energy," wrote Makiguchi. "And if I can, through such efforts, prevent Mr. Parker's theories from being disregarded [in Japan] as something concerning only the United States, I shall have, to some degree, realized my hopes."
The five other panelists were Jim Garrison and Larry Hickman, both past presidents of the John Dewey Society; University of Massachusetts Amherst professor of language, literacy and culture Theresa Austin; Georgia Southern University professor of curriculum studies Ming Fang He; and Gonzalo Obelleiro, doctoral candidate at Columbia University Teachers College.
Jason Goulah, DePaul University assistant professor of bilingual-bicultural education, had worked since 2008 to organize the symposium. It drew some 450 educators, students, parents, and local citizens.
[Adapted from various reports, websites and an article in the April 8, 2011, issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photos courtesy of Chris Salata]