Moral education: Japanese primary school songs and the values represented therein

A comparative study on the values represented in Japanese primary school songs
Shoichi Kuroda, Japan
The subject of this study is to select values of Nature, Society and Humanity represented in Japanese and Korean Primary School Songs Words and to find how they reflect the environment, with comparisons by area and time. In Western areas like Europe and USA, there are a few if any school songs, except for some private schools. But, they are popular in Asia particularly in Japan, Korea and China. The existence of school songs is said to be the Culture of Japan.
In Japan, every public and private school has their own school songs in spite of the fact that there have not historically been any kind of guidance directed by the authorities concerned, even during World War. School songs have typical characteristics which generally celebrate a natural view and history of their neighbour and state their educational spirit which may proudly include a historical big figure.
As a whole, school songs words seem to be affected by the values dominant in the area and time, and I have studied 7000 in total. The songs words have already been analyzed by some other papers limited from the view point of the landscape structure and educational spirit and/or objective. In school songs words, the latter is often personified in the former. Compared with other papers mentioned above, the subject study includes not only the above analysis but also classifying the school songs words connected with history, culture, society, ideas and morals.
For this study, statistical analysis was performed using a computer for a selection of words in the school songs. Environmental factors included landscape [ Nature(landmarks, praise of others, air personified expression and educational expression); cityscape and industrialized(both landmark, praising other); animals and plants(praising others, personified expression and educational expression); seasonalities like weather (praise others, personified expression and educational expression); five senses, e.g. colour (praised others). Except for five senses, all other factors were studied in terms of history, culture and society, ideas and morals. Human relations factors were also studied including teachers, forefathers, fellowship, sexuality, man oriented, woman oriented, and youth; with respect to history, culture and society, ideals and morals. Other associations of these factors were also identified.
In the paper I will present here, areas are classified into five characterised groups where one city is selected respectively as listed below:1) Urbanized: Yokahama city; 2) Industrialized: Yokkaichi city; 3) Suffered A-bomb: Hiroshima and Nagasaki cities; 4) Harbours prosper: Kobe and Yokosuka cities. The era is divided into two, before and after World War II. The latter is further divided by ten year intervals. A total of 253 school songs were analyzed, excluding Korea as shown [ for each city there are two numbers (before and after the war)]: Yokohama (5, 38); Yokkaichi (1, 28); Hiroshima (13, 44); Nagasaki (10, 47); Kobe (8, 35); Yokosuka (0, 24); total (37, 216).
According to the analysis by area, the moral ideals and the hope for future are frequently found in the personified expression of the songs words as indicated [For each city there are two variables (morals and future; using a three point scale of most, many, few): Yokahama (most, many); Yokkaichi (few, few); Hiroshima (many, many); Nagasaki (most, few); Kobe (few, few); Yokosuka (many, few).
The major concern of the total songs words by area included three ideas (peace, world, self) to the following degrees: Yokohama (many, many, many); Yokkachi (many, many, few); Hiroshima (most, many, many); Nagasaki (many, few, many); Kobe (few, most, few); Yokosuka (many, most, any).
Extra regional concerns included for example, industrial complex ideas in Yokkaichi, history in Hiroshima, culture in Nagasaki, mind and development in Kobe. Trends over time will be presented. For example landmark gradually decreases over time, while praising others and fellowship increases. Overall school songs that are not appropriate in the current environment in terms of the word meaning are still to be found. it is recommended that school songs words are adopted or utilized in education for environment and ethics purposes.


Bioethics in and from Asia: The Fifth International Tsukuba Bioethics Roundtable, and Intensive Cross-Cultural Bioethics Course (TRT5) 20-23 November, 1999

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