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Nigel Harris

Education and Development

(Spring 1966)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.24, Spring 1966, p.36.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Education in Tokugawa Japan
R.P. Dore
Routledge, 35s

Professor Dore is already rightly well-known for his sensitive and disciplined studies of Tokyo city life and Japanese land reform. Here he offers a clear and historically documented account of educational facilities available and their likely impact on the late Tokugawa period, the prelude to Japan’s modern industrialisation. He deals with this by social class, and in relationship to content – both the balance between traditional and Western studies, and an examination of the likely ethics derivable from such studies. This is a useful work and fills in an important area of ignorance, particularly given the multitude of silly things said about the role of education in development generally. It points up the peculiar situation of Japan, and the different class nature of education as a political factor (the rulers encouraged the spread of education as a medium for ideological control – it was not seen as a means of popular emancipation). Dore carefully guards against the popular temptation to see education as the key to all social change, and sees the crucial ambivalence in the ethics instilled in the young.

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