The new curriculum guideline for the teaching of kokugo stipulates that the “traditional language and culture” should be intensively taught in the program of the subject. I fear that this way of teaching is apt to be nationalistic as pupils at some elementary schools are allegedly made to recite Kojiki like the recitation of the imperial rescript on education in the prewar period. But the ancient myths cannot be contained in the “traditional language and culture” defined by the Education Ministry. They are not the mere cultural heritages but the dynamic texts that never cease to change. To demonstrate it this paper will shed a new light on Yamato-Takeru, one of the familiar mythical figures in textbooks, from a female viewpoint.
In the teaching of classical works it is important to use teaching materials in a more interrelated way. By this means kokugo teachers can lead their students to more systematically learn classical literature. As I will report in this paper, I teach the literary works of the Heian Period in a historical and cultural perspective so that students can read them not fragmentarily but contextually.
In response to the new curriculum guideline for the teaching of kokugo that puts an emphasis on the “traditional language and culture,” how do we as teachers treat classical works in our class? In the subject classical texts are often taught in the same way modern ones are, but they have their peculiar formal and interpretative rules that have been conventionally established. Thus it is necessary to learn the formal and historical aspects of classical works like waka poems in the classroom.
Ōgai Mori's “Maihime” is a standard story in the teaching of kokugo at high schools; indeed even now it is reprinted in thirteen different textbooks. In the classroom, however, it has been still read as a story about the awakening and failure of modern ego, regardless of the fact that there are a great variety of interpretations made of the text in studies on modern literature. Thus this paper will give an alternative way of reading it by focusing on the narrator's unconscious in the note of his separation from Elise at the port of Saigon.
How can kokugo teachers convey the actualities of war to students in class? What kind of teaching materials is most useful for eliciting imaginative responses from them? In an attempt to give some answer to these questions, I use Sakatoshi Yonekura's picture book Otona-ni-narenakatta-otoutotachi-ni as a textbook for my class. In the story a boy says “Beautiful,” when he sees B-29s which killed his younger brother in the air raid. His embarrassing remark seems to give realistic expression to the cruelty of war. Through such representations of air raids in fiction as well as the historical records and personal testaments of them, we may have a glimpse of how the people actually experienced the war.
Although literary works play an important educational role in the teaching of kokugo, they are only part of the subject in which other teaching materials are provided for learning the Japanese language. For the reason literary texts are sometimes used as a mere tool for the improvement of literacy. In some cases they may be even “bowdlerized” for the educational purpose. In this paper I will consider such a problematic treatment of literature in the subject.