2014 Volume 81 Issue 4 Pages 448-459
This study aims to explore the influence on practitioners of early childhood and care (ECEC) of the modification of the “Course of Study for Kindergarten” of 1989 (the first year of the Heisei Era), along with two minor reforms following it, and to find solutions for the present problematic issues.
The Course of Study did cause confusion at workplaces due to its characteristics emphasizing ‘educating young children through their environment’ and ‘encouraging children to undertake voluntary activities’, despite its lack of clarity _in defining the roles and leadership of practitioners. Nevertheless, it led to the development of some advantages, as it has fostered discourse among teachers on expressing ‘the child’s personal growth’ and developed a circulatory system of assessing the child’s growth based on his/her initiative through reflection in and on practice (by means of, for example, conferences with their colleagues and daily documentations), as well as practitioners’ “mimamori (observation)” in which the leadership factor is hard to trace.
However, the structure of Japanese ECEC is said to be difficult for outsiders to judge. It seems that a decontextualization of Japanese ECEC education from insiders will become more necessary in order to take part in essential discussions on education theories.