The Direction of Moral Education in Japanese Schools in a Global and Multicultural World

By Kaori Shimizu.

Published by The International Journal of Diversity in Education

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In Japan, a recent emphasis on the appreciation of tradition, culture, and patriotism in school education has stirred controversy over school moral education. Moral education has been included in the school curriculum ever since a modern school system was established in 1872. Moral education was initially called Shūshin (control of self), which was suppressed after the end of World War II because of the importance it gave to nationalistic and militaristic ideology in pre-war Japan. However, in 1958, the Ministry of Education reintroduced moral education despite the opposition from the public, who feared the restoration could invite the revival of Shūshin. The post-war moral education is called Dōtoku (morality) and one class hour per week is set aside for Dōtoku throughout compulsory education. Along the line of recent emphasis on tradition, culture and patriotism, the Ministry of Education has provided the reinforcement of moral education, which has raised serious concerns for leading to the revival of Shūshin and undesirable forms of nationalistic ideology. Does the current emphasis on national identity in school education adequately prepare children to live in a world that is increasingly interconnected and globalized, in which diverse cultures coexist side by side? In order to consider this question, in this paper I will first review how the pre-war and post-war moral education curricula were each designed. Then I will consider the implications of the recent tendency of looking inward into culture, drawing on Derrida’s notion of an affirmation of otherness.

Keywords: Moral Education, Schools in Japan, Cultural Inwardness, Otherness

The International Journal of Diversity in Education, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp.29-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 400.854KB).

Kaori Shimizu

Student, Department of Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice, College of Education, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Kaori Shimizu is originally from Japan, and taught Japanese at Louisiana State University (LSU), USA. She is currently a doctoral student at the College of Human Sciences and Education, LSU. Based on her experience as a foreigner and as a foreign language instructor who attempted to communicate her own culture to students, her research interest is to explore the concept of alterity. Using the method of narrative inquiry, she is currently working on a project examining autobiographical accounts which depict the experiences of encountering the culture of others.