In order to re-examine the concept of education, this article tries to reorganize the various theories of educational principles which have appeared since the 1990s in the social context of the widening gaps in social status in society. The parallel existence of those principles can be seen as the self-adjusting attempt of the educational system to the social differentiation of work. The social disparities and exclusion have been caused by the overflow of the labor force. In this situation, we should see the new possibilities of the re-education of the all the citizens. If we reconsider the exclusive society from the perspective of the functional differentiation theory of N.Luhmann, we can see the new form of the common education in the secondary education as "the education of conjunction". Thus far, the common education has been seeking to acquire the general and common values. On the contrary, the common education based on the system theory tries to transmit and consider the ill-functioning matters of our society.
In the present study, "education" is examined using the "learning" theory of cognitive science. Since the 1990s, cognitive science has continually and actively researched "learning" theory. In cognitive science, it is thought that a learner's "situation" has a significant influence on his "learning". Therefore, the change in "situation" whereby the world shifted from the industrialized age to the advanced information age at the end of 20^<th> century is important. Cognitive science has been advocating "situated learning theory", "legitimate peripheral learning", "collaborative learning" and so on. The author has previously pointed out that "fuzzy knowledge" is important in the advanced information age from the standpoint of cognitive science. "Fuzzy knowledge" is not "definite knowledge" in the sense that a single definite answer is decided upon. It is "knowledge" that changes according to the situation. Therefore, "fuzzy knowledge" values "physicality". "Fuzzy knowledge" existed in old Japan but has not been admitted in the industrialized society of the modern age. However, it is very important in the advanced information age when huge amounts of information change every day. "Fuzzy knowledge" can be acquired via the "learning by osmosis (penetration) model". This learning model typically exists in the master-apprentice relationship of traditional Japanese performing arts. Here, the distinction between teacher and student is not clear. In the "learning by osmosis (penetration) model", the student learns voluntarily by repeated imitation of the master in a "community of learning". This learning model is different from the "teaching by instruction model" that was mainstream in the industrialized age of the 20^<th> century. To support the "learning by osmosis (penetration) model", "flexible (soft) education" is required within which the diversity of the learner's abilities is respected. The teacher needs to support the student's "learning" based on an assumption of the diversity of his abilities. An important aspect is that this "support" might not necessarily correspond to the teacher's intentions. However, given an "obviously wrong directionality", the teacher should initiate a strong correction; he should have advanced judgment and the specialty to support such a decision. "Flexible (soft) education" is based on one fundamental principle, namely that a "flexible (soft) attitude" is necessary for a complex object. In addition, such an attitude is necessary when the "situation" in which the object exists changes intensely. The author has previously published a paper addressing practice for an autistic child from the standpoint of cognitive science. In this paper, the author denied a common principle. The common principle is that a teacher becomes the center of education and imparts knowledge systematically, starting from a simple level and advancing to a complex one according to the characteristics of the individual student. This practice aims to support the development of the "ability to learn voluntarily" and to solve a problem with moderation. The author valued the "relationship" of a learner to the surrounding "situation". This practice, as well as the effectiveness of cognitive science, was proven to be successful.
So far, education has been defined as a social system of knowledge distribution, but defining education as a system is becoming more and more irrelevant, because individuals' behaviors and the social structure that underlie this definition have drastically changed. Education is taking on the aspect of an ecological platform on which various kinds of operation systems of knowledge creation grow. We have stopped seeing ourselves as "Me" among a group called "We," based on what we have in common with others. We no longer regard ourselves in terms of our commonality and equality, i.e., belonging, to others. In other words, each of us has launched a personal reflexive project in search of who We are, and who We are not, but who the special Me is. The reason why we have so far claimed that our access to knowledge be guaranteed like others' was that we wanted to access the greater views of the world or history shared with others, i.e., greater narratives. By sharing such narratives with others, we have tried to position ourselves in relation to others. However, this is no longer what we are looking for. Today, everyone exposes themselves. It is in this explosion of self-expression that we see the emergence of a We who excessively expose ourselves to others, and it is there that we feel Me to be connected to We. What is more, this exposure of Me is deeply involved with changes in social structure today. The Japanese society has worked in a system that positioned the nationals (citizens) in a space as residents, where the administrative district, the school district, and various associations and organizations overlapped in the same community. The typical example was chonaikai, or neighborhood association. An autonomous body as it was, chonaikai shared its space with the school district and other community activities such as senior citizens' clubs, women's associations, social welfare councils, and volunteer fire companies. Living in this space as citizens and participating in these community activities as residents, people had inevitably positioned themselves in such a space, i.e., in relation to others, and thus identified their being. However, recent reforms of administrative structure have dismantled this type of multilayered social structure of community organizations, undercutting people's sense of belonging. It is now hard to tie people's minds down to their community. As a result, people see the world less and less through their relation to others. The world is no longer what is already there, but what is realizing in each of us. In view of such reflexive moves of individuals turning from the collective We to the isolated, scattered Me, we have to rebuild once again We who have already had to be connected with each other for the sheer reason that we are isolated and scattered. We find this logic working in various cases of learning, such as adults who start learning on their own initiative, find themselves again, and open themselves to relations with others, or in lifelong learning bases that train and develop new actors who work on helping isolated individuals connect to each other in a local community. This also requires education to change itself from a system of knowledge distribution to a platform that creates knowledge and, in that process, connects Me to We in multiple ways.