Increasing number of school focus on teaching aspects of Japanese traditional culture

In recent years, an increasing number of schools have focused on teaching aspects of Japanese traditional culture, such as the tea ceremony, performing arts and classical literature. During this school year, more than 1,000 such courses have been offered from the primary to high school level, according to a survey conducted by Prof. Tetsu Nakamura of Hyogo University of Education, who also serves as director for the Association for the Wa Culture Education. (“Wa” is a word meaning “Japan” or “Japanese.”)
On one hand, this trend was sparked by the current teaching guidelines, which were implemented in 2002 for primary and middle school levels and the following year for the high school level. These guidelines introduced general studies classes, the contents of which were left up to individual schools. The guidelines also made it compulsory, for example, for middle schools to teach traditional instruments during music classes.
Another major driving factor has been the Fundamental Law of Education, which was revised in 2006. It states that one of the goals of the education system is to foster attitudes “to respect the nation’s traditions and culture.” This element also has been included in the revised teaching guidelines, which will be implemented from next year.
Nakamura said the education community has given the nation’s traditional culture a wide berth for a long time. “However, the theme is now attracting attention as the postwar society has come to a standstill,” he added.
In teaching traditional culture, Nakamura emphasized that it was important not to focus purely on encouraging students to study their heritage.
Instead, he said, “The students should be taught to apply what they learn to the present time. We have to train teachers so that they can develop such a philosophy and I hope the government will provide support on this.”
(Mar. 11, 2010)

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