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The Journal of Aesthetic Education 37.4 (2003) 1-3
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Aesthetic Education in Japan Today
The purpose of this symposium is to provide readers with a general understanding of Japanese art and aesthetics education and its interaction with other cultures. The essays cover a variety of topics, including historical, cross-cultural, theoretical, and practical perspectives.
First, the development and establishment of art education in the Japanese education system is introduced. Kingo Masuda's essay provides a brief history of art education policy and how a formal system of art education has been organized from the modern era to the present. Takuya Kaneda examines the foundation for the historical evolution of the major reform movements in Japanese art education. He focuses on the philosophies of three pioneers who guided the movements and sheds light on to the role that "freedom" has played in the context of aesthetic education. Their historical studies show how the modern Japanese educational system incorporated the Western notion of art education into its foundation. Western art educators have given Japanese art educators the impetus to modernize the theory and practice of art education.
The attempt to go beyond the modern framework of arts and aesthetic education is discussed in some authors' essays. Yoko Hino examines a key educational term, "Creative Play (Zokei Asobi)," and points out the dilemma educators face working within the modern framework that divides subject matter completely from individuality. Yasuaki Okamoto, in his philosophical essay, discusses the change in the nature of self-understanding in theage of media expansion. His point is that our sense of reality is no longer confined to physical existence, and that media provides us with a new kind of experience of self and reality. Kinichi Fukumoto illustrates the essential structure of art education with the metaphor of Disneyland, and emphasizes art education as an incomplete, further evolving project. Motoki Nagamori discusses Rousseau's concept of nature as a foundation for modern theory and practice of art education and suggests an alternative concept that incorporates cultural, linguistic, and media aspects. Based on a historical study on evaluation methods, Kazumi Yamada suggests that qualitative factors should play a significant role for improving art education.
Some authors emphasize the current concern for integrating art with other disciplines in order to alter our understanding about aesthetic education. [End Page 1] Advocating for the integration of art and media literacy based on the educational principles of the Bauhaus, Kenta Motomura explores the possibility of media technology for a new type of expression. Kazuhiro Ishizaki and Wenchun Wang describe their cross-cultural study on children's aesthetic development to stress the importance of the communal, cultural, and linguistic considerations of integrated study, historically overlooked in traditional aesthetic education. Focusing on blending music and visual arts, Masashi Okada introduces his theory and practice of integrated study developed over many years.
In addition, globalization and its effect on art education has become an important topic. Engaging in a cross-cultural dialogue is a critical part of this issue. Akio Okazaki discusses what Arthur Wesley Dow, an Americanart educator, recognized and learned by encountering the otherness of Japanese art. Yoshimasa Kaneko's study shows how Japanese aesthetics and Johannes Itten (the founder of Ittenschule in Germany) had a significant philosophical influence on each other. Toshio Naoe's comparativestudy between Japanese and British educational systems highlights somecrucial differences and similarities and points out overarching themes across the two countries. Mitsuru Fujie compares and contrasts the different educational meanings of "play" between Japan and the United States, and articulates the nature of play in the context of Japanese art education. Masako Iwano's study describes a case of cross-cultural aesthetic education in a small Japanese community and how this cultural interaction through art impacts that community.
The perspectives of all of these authors are decidedly international. They are not only committed to, and engaged directly in, the current practice of Japanese education but have developed an international viewpoint through experiences overseas. Some have conducted research at educational institutions in other countries, and others have participated in the activities of international professional...