It is my great honor to work for our Society as president. Established
in 1957, the Philosophy of Education Society of Japan has made a substantial
contribution to the introduction of philosophical and deliberate thinking
into the field of education. Over the next three years, I will attempt
to develop this tradition further.
It goes without saying that the current trends in the field of education are not in favor of my attempt to do so. The rallying cries of “evidence” and “efficiency” seem to have erased the call for mature deliberation on education. Programs in the philosophy of education continue to be reduced in the teacher training curriculum and replaced by “practical” programs. This tendency is deeply regrettable because it will deprive future teachers of the opportunity to be trained in thinking carefully about the educational problems they are going to confront. However, I am anything but pessimistic about the situation and the future of our Society. There can be observed many promising indications. I will mention three salient ones.
Firstly, the methodology of the philosophy of education is disseminated in various areas of educational research. Philosophers of education have made a remarkable contribution in the field of lesson studies and the clinical study of education for a long time. Recently, the areas of higher education and education policy have stood out in particular. Research in these two areas is now unthinkable without the contributions of philosophers of education. Many researchers who were trained in the philosophy of education are lightly crossing the borders of disciplines like “free electrons” and coping with actual problems from the perspective of the philosophy of education.
Secondary, theoretical and conceptual state-of-the-art investigations are increasing, especially among the younger generation in our Society. Many such investigations go beyond the traditional framework of “education” and “philosophy of education”. It is sometimes lamented that they are too puzzling to understand ordinarily and to meet the practical demands of education. I rather think that their “puzzling” character is, at least partly, explained by their endeavor not to assume a conventional concept of “education”, but to start from the changing reality of education and to generate new concepts that can better capture this changing reality. Such adventurous attempts to generate concepts are essential to philosophical investigations. One important task of our Society as an interactive communication space is not to cut ourselves off from such endeavors, but to make them a subject of common discussion.
Thirdly and finally, there can be observed an impressive development of international cooperation in the research activities of our members. The research activities of our Society have always been remarkably international. We take it for granted to learn from foreign – which usually means western – thinkers or philosophers such as Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Dewey, Wittgenstein, and Foucault. Sometimes we have been accused of being preoccupied with the importation and translation of western thought. However, on the basis of this outward-looking disposition of our discipline, many research projects of mutual cooperation have been developed with researchers not only in western, but also in Asian countries. Such cooperation has already led to many publications oversees. From this emerges mutual rethinking and unlearning of one’s own concepts beyond the familiar territory of mother tongues. Such experimental efforts in translation in the broader sense are also essential for philosophical investigations. I think that our Society should welcome this task of encouraging the further development of international cooperation.
At the annual meeting in October 2013, I made a proposal regarding our tasks during the term of my presidency. I named three main foci of our forthcoming activities: (1) enhancing and disseminating the methodology of philosophy of education; (2) encouraging theoretical investigations; and (3) supporting international cooperation. The aim of my proposal was to focus on the positive indications in our Society mentioned above and to develop them further.
I envision our Society as an interactive communication space in which various different ideas and perspectives interact with each other, thereby stimulating the research activities of each member. I will try to make such interaction freer and more intensive. That will lead to the re-introduction of mature deliberation into the field of education. I ask all of you for your cooperation.