2019 Volume 86 Issue 2 Pages 188-200
Historical studies on educational research in Japan have advanced little, yet have been assumed to be fundamentally and inevitably important for discussions of the reorganization of future educational research. Previous studies have described the history of educational research as the history of educational theory. To break this tradition, we must be aware that while theory constitutes an essential part of educational research, an examination of the characteristics and significance of theory regarding educational practice has been proposed but not yet conducted. Toward the historical reflection of the development of educational research, this article discusses the character of Taisho new education practitioners' educational research.
The Taisho New Education Movement, conversely, has been generally assumed to be a reform movement in school practice, but its contribution to new educational research has been largely overlooked. Previous studies indicate that Sawayanagi Masataro, a prominent leader of this movement, wrote A Practical Pedagogy (1909) in the late Meiji period as an antithesis of pedagogies in academic circles; however, they have failed to trace his work's influence. Through extensive research into educational journals and case studies of Kitazawa Taneichi and Oikawa Heiji (leading practitioners of Taisho new education), we clarified that Sawayanagi's proposals stimulated and advanced practitioners' educational research. We discovered the following two characteristics of practitioners' educational research and propose the need to shift our research focus from the existing “history of educational theory” to the “history of educational research.”
First, practitioners' educational research developed through the supporting networks of Sawayanagi's call for the establishment of educational research based on “educational facts.” For instance, the Educational Instruction Research Association was officially formed in 1910, following the publication of A Practical Pedagogy. It held regular monthly meetings in which numerous practitioners participated, examining and discussing a broad range of issues about educational theory and practice. Although previous studies have focused on the genealogies of pedagogical cliques formed by each academic institution, we cannot trace the development of practitioners' research in the same way.
Second, through Kitazawa and Oikawa, we demonstrate that these practitioners never dismissed educational theories: instead, they valued them highly. Given that theoretical research and practical research are inextricably connected, they saw the latter as the creative and cooperative processes of experiments, not merely the adaptive processes of fixed theories. While they learned from John Dewey, Henri Bergson and others, they encouraged practitioners to think of theories as a base for their creation of original practices and warned against introducing finished practical models embodied by others. We demonstrate that it is impossible to approach this experimental process through the existing frameworks focused on the “transportation” of theories from overseas or literal translation. It is necessary to approach the whole process of educational research from the perspectives of cultural translation and social translation.