1998 年 1 巻 p. 123-139
After the second world war, Japanese higher education system was forced drastic changes by the occupying forces. In the prewar system that resembled the European ones, students finished their general education before entering university. In the new system students were required to continue general education in the first two years of university.
The name attached to this first two years has been changed twice. At first it was called “ippan-kyouyou kyouiku (liberal arts education)” by the Japan University Association. Its aim was defined as “to bring up men of high culture by developing general intellectual ability and a wide background of knowledge,” but in reality it turned out to be a collection of introductory courses. The name was then changed to” ippan kyouiku (general and liberal education) and it has been used for forty years. Still the name and the concept has been continuously the subject of. The image of ippan-kyouiku as required but of secondary significance influenced a wide range of constituencies including administrators, students and even faculty members. Thus it was no surprise that courses classified under the name ippan-kyouiku disappeared as soon as the requirement was removed from the National Standards for Establishment of Universities in 1991. What remain in the curricula are now called “kyouyou-kyouiku (liberal education),” which is contented to be a parallel segment with specialized education rather than its preparatory stage.
This recent development looks ironical in a wider context, however. In the coming age of universal higher education, the requirements for specialized education will have to be relaxed, with greater emphasis on general education throughout four years.