2001: Reviving Education: The Brilliance of the Inner Spirit — Further Thoughts on Education in the Twenty-first Century


In September 2000, Daisaku Ikeda, president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and founder of the Soka education system, presented a proposal entitled “Building a Society Serving the Essential Needs of Education — Some Views on Education in the Twenty-first Century.” The current proposal builds on the earlier suggestions to uproot the problems of bullying and other violent behavior in the schools. Under consideration here are further measures to rehabilitate the educational function of schools and society.

Highlighting the widespread apathy and cynicism that underlie the current educational crisis, the author argues for the necessity of a social ethos that will not tolerate any form of violence. Examining the differences between ego and self, he goes on to discuss the dangers inherent in a mentality devoid of an awareness of “other.” There is therefore a vital need for education to foster a universal sense of empathy with others.

The author warns that the solution to the current educational crisis lies not in a reversion to the past but, rather, in the forward movement of an education framed by living values that draw forth children’s natural potential. Firmly opposed to reviving the religious education policies of World War II-era Japan, he propounds humanistic education to inspire an inner-motivated spirituality and enable human beings to lead more meaningful and fulfilling lives. As one concrete example, he proposes increasing opportunities for broader exposure to great works of literature, thus making character building through reading a cornerstone of education.

While some counseling services are provided by schools and the government, establishing additional venues where people directly and peripherally engaged in the education process can seek advice is an essential need. The author suggests that community-based efforts such as the Educational Counseling Program initiated by the educators division of the Soka Gakkai can help alleviate feelings of isolation suffered by troubled children or their parents.

Building a Society Serving the Essential Needs of Education – Some Views on Education in the Twenty-first Century

Toward a Century Radiant with the Smiles of Children - the greatest trend of “Humanistic Education”

As we enter the twenty-first century, education is once again the focus of considerable discussion. In Japan, this debate has concentrated on educational reform, and I would like to take this opportunity to respond to recent points raised and offer some frank opinions on this debate as well as to make some concrete proposals.

One widespread problem recently has been that of children who for various reasons, particularly bullying, refuse to attend school. It is said this problem could affect almost any child in Japan: the Ministry of Education’s annual survey on Japanese schools has revealed that absenteeism in elementary and junior high schools reached the unprecedented number of more than 130,000 students in 1999. This means that, at the elementary-school level, 1 out of every 290 students is unable or unwilling to attend school, and, at the junior-high level, 1 out of 40, an average of 1 student in every class.

In Japan, there has been a terrible series of school suicides and other tragedies resulting from bullying, and the crisis is escalating, while the worldwide problem of drug abuse is gradually spreading to Japan as well. In addition, there has been a succession of juvenile crimes in recent years: a series of murders by fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds, and, in just the last year, crimes that have shocked the Japanese public such as the motiveless hijacking of an expressway bus by a seventeen-year-old, killing one and causing severe traumas for all the other passengers, and a boy who brutally clubbed his mother to death with a baseball bat, crimes which would have been practically unthinkable in Japan just a few years ago.

Professionals in the fields of juvenile psychology and education analyze these issues, looking for solutions. Realistically speaking, however, adult society has still failed to deal with these problems. Shocked at their monstrosity, we feel helpless in the face of such unfathomable trends.

As one individual who aspires to promote the sound growth of the young people who are to shoulder our future, I penned a proposal for a general meeting of the Soka Gakkai’s nationwide education division sixteen years ago entitled “Thoughts on the Aims of Education.” Based on the principle that educational reform should be driven by humanism, not politics, I indicated in that proposal a humanistic ideal imbued with creativity, internationalism, and totality.

I recall that at that time, too, the crisis of education was a matter of major concern, and parents and teachers and many other concerned individuals were deeply worried about the issues of problematic behavior, school violence, and absenteeism. Some fifteen years have passed since then, and sadly, notwithstanding the efforts of those involved, not only has there been no improvement but this situation has now become the norm, and numerous new problems have subsequently emerged.

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