Primary School in Japan

Self, Individuality and Learning in Elementary Education

By Peter Cave

© 2008 – Routledge

248 pages | 21 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415545365
pub: 2009-05-12
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9780415446792
pub: 2007-11-30
US Dollars$168.00

About the Book

The balance between individual independence and social interdependence is a perennial debate in Japan. A series of educational reforms since 1990, including the implementation of a new curriculum in 2002, has been a source of fierce controversy. This book, based on an extended, detailed study of two primary schools in the Kinki district of Japan, discusses these debates, shows how reforms have been implemented at the school level, and explores how the balance between individuality and social interdependence is managed in practice. It discusses these complex issues in relation to personal identity within the class and within the school, in relation to gender issues, and in relation to the teaching of specific subjects, including language, literature and mathematics. The book concludes that, although recent reforms have tended to stress individuality and independence, teachers in primary schools continue to balance the encouragement of individuality and self-direction with the development of interdependence and empathy.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Self, Society and Education in Japan 1. Education and Individuality in Japan 2. Groups and Individuals at Primary School 3. Stories of the Self 4. Mathematical Relationships 5. Learning Gender 6. Ceremonial Creations 7. The Next Stage – 2002 and All That. Conclusion

About the Author

Peter Cave is a lecturer in Japanese Studies at the University of Manchester, and was formerly lecturer in the Department of Japanese Studies at the University of Hong Kong. His main research interest is Japanese education in comparative context.

About the Series

Japan Anthropology Workshop Series

Editorial Board:
Pamela Asquith, University of Alberta
Eyal Ben Ari, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hirochika Nakamaki, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka

Kirsten Refsing, University of Copenhagen
Wendy Smith, Monash University

Founder Member of the Editorial Board:
Jan van Bremen, University of Leiden

Routledge is very proud to be publishing this important series, which has already signed up a good list of high quality books on interesting topics, and has a truly international range of authors and editors.

A key aim of the series is to present studies that offer a deep understanding of aspects of Japanese society and culture to offset the impression of constant change and frivolity that so tempts the mass media around the world.  Living in Japan brings anyone into contact with the fervent mood of change, and former residents from many other countries enjoy reading about their temporary home, but there is a demand also to penetrate less obvious elements of this temporary life.  Anthropologists specialise in digging beneath the surface, in peeling off and examining layers of cultural wrapping, and in gaining an understanding of language and communication that goes beyond formal presentation and informal frolicking.  This series will help to open the eyes of readers around the world from many backgrounds to the work of these diligent anthropologists researching the social life of Japan.

Submissions from prospective authors are welcomed, and enquiries should be sent in the first instance to the series editor Professor Joy Hendry (

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Comparative
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General