By Shiro Arimoto, Bachelor of Engineering, Bachelor of Economics
Dean of the Engineering Department, Tokyo Koto Kogakko
Founder of Shibaura Institute of Technology
Published in December 1931
As long as our knowledge and our sentiment continue to develop in conjunction with our modern culture, we must seek closer contact with various aspects of modern culture and maintain deeper relationships with them.
Education in today’s schools has been criticized by society. The reason is that too much focus is given to academic learning that is completely isolated from our everyday life and society. I can even hear young graduates crying out, “School curricula and study based on such curricula have made us worthless beings.” This is the stark realization of young grads after being tossed around in society’s rough seas.
This is a comment from one high school graduate: “How did the school study of history, natural history and all other subjects help us in our real life? What meaning did they add to our life? The five years we spent at high school seemed to me just a period of wasting time because of study along side with students who are advancing to higher education. We studied more than 20 hours a week for five years in textbooks as prescribed by law, but what did we get? It seems only memorization after memorization of worthless, random matter such as almanac, newspaper and magazine articles and others now considered useless facts.”
How should we, as educators, listen to such despair and complaints in regard to modern education? This is none other than an expression of resentment and bitterness against school education, which has been ignoring the actual state of modern society.
University level education seems to be less critical in terms of the aforementioned trend as higher education requires specialized knowledge but in reality somewhat the same thing has been observed. Textbooks are selected simply from the pure academic standpoint, and each subject is taught in isolation from each other in a manner far removed from real social life. Look at them! Look closely at the textbooks for literature or law, economics and science. How are they integrated into our social life? Teaching of literature as literature, law as law, economics as economics and science as science as though there is no applicable connection to real life. Each subject matter remains isolated and textbooks are selected only in the specified field for the purpose of helping students acquire specialized knowledge. As a result, the knowledge and sentiment that students have toward various subjects are not interconnected. Consequently they cannot realize or acquire practical knowledge and take practical action.
Careful observation reveals what is happening in the present day real society. While schools are selecting and gathering textbooks for various sciences from the academic standpoint, these various sciences are breaking away from their original structures and integrating into society, application of sciences creating unique aspects of modern culture that are felt in various quarters. School education should focus on this dynamic.
It is my belief that schools, or at least those that offer vocational training, should not be a place where only academic subjects are taught. The mission of school education is to better our life or improve the way in which we as the members of society live, and to make our lives more meaningful. To me that is the deeper significance of school education. Pure academic training that has nothing to do with real life has no meaning, at least in the context of vocational training.
If various school subjects are selected based on academic reasons only and the textbooks for each subject contain only line after line of academic facts, and each subject segregated from one another then the overall benefits of education will be reduced. Future education must be based on curriculum, which encompasses all subjects, or a combination of subjects, with focus on various aspects of present day culture. Thus I came to the conclusion of proposing an ironic idea, which I call “the unscientific educational approaches,” in which the various aspects of modern culture are incorporated in teaching the subject to be more practical.
Here, “Unscientific Education” is not something that rejects science or denies the scientific method of study. Instead, it means education that is not dependent on the traditional system of academic education in which textbooks are simply chosen from the academic standpoint . To put it more aggressively, this education in which the science and various aspects of our modern culture are blended will enhance each other and every member of society will learn their significance in the meaning of life. By proposing the unscientific educational approaches I would like to revise the aforementioned fundamental defect in today’s education.
Based on the above notion, our school aims to provide unique professional training as a private institution in Japan so that we can contribute to the real world. It is my hope that our students and faculty members will work together to produce great fruits so as to make the name of Tokyo Koto Kogakko (currently Shibaura Institute of Technology) known to the world, so that government agencies and various companies recruiting recent school graduates will be made to think they will only hire our graduates and will proclaim our school’s uniqueness.