The purpose of this study is to reveal the background of the movement to establish
certification of male childcare workers in Japan. The study focuses on the period from the 1960s,
when men began to seek childcare certification, to 1999, when the Social Welfare Act was
amended and the gender-neutral childcare term of certification, “Hoikushi” (childcare
professional), was legalized.
For research, this paper uses documents issued by childcare-related organizations, official
documents from administrative agencies, etc., that dealt with the movement, as well as interview
surveys of male childcare workers.
The first thing that became clear was the relationship between Danhoren (male childcare
workers organization) that played an important role in the movement for male childcare workers
to acquire childcare certification as well as other related childcare-related organizations.
Danhoren adopted as a strategy to address the codified assumption that only women could
acquire childcare certification, called “Hobo” (female childcare worker), on the assumption that
only women engaged in nursery work. Media reports also made visible the existence of male
childcare workers, a minority at the time, prompting the administration to tackle the problem.
Next, other childcare-related organizations cooperated with a series of campaigns by male
childcare workers. The reason for success is that from the beginning of the movement, Danhoren
positioned the childcare profession as a “leader of childcare that integrates nursing and
education”, rather than only childcare. On the other hand, Danhoren sought a gender-neutral
term of certification, to reflect that childcare is not determined by the gender of the childcare
worker, but shaped by the individuality of the childcare worker. By advocating these two things
simultaneously and adopting a strategy designed to improve the status of all childcare workers,
the Danhoren movement was able to involve various childcare-related organizations to acquire
certification for male childcare workers.
This paper focuses on the educational content and its characteristics in the training of
kindergarten teachers in Fujian and Jiangsu Provinces of China, which were advanced regions
for Christian missionary work in the early 20th century.
First, the paper considers the educational background of Christian women missionaries prior to
their arrival in China, and clarifies the specialization of skills of them. Second, the paper clarifies
the specific training education that took place in each of the Christian kindergarten teacher
training institutions in China at the beginning of the 20th century. In particular, this paper
examines the characteristics of educational content and their relation to the professional
knowledge of women missionaries.
Each missionary organization established their own kindergartens in various regions during
the early days of kindergarten education in China. With the spread of kindergarten education in
China, the demand for kindergarten teachers increased, and each region began to train their own
kindergarten teachers. Many of these missionaries were women, trained to become teachers in
their home countries. For example, Bertha H. Allen, the first principal of Fuzhou Union
Kindergarten Training School, completed her kindergarten coursework at Los Angeles State
Normal School. There, she studied subjects related to early childhood education, including
science, art, theory, play, handicrafts, storytelling, piano, psychology, music, observation,
education, teaching, programs, and hygiene. Among these subjects, especially in the subject
called theory, Froebelʼs educational thought and the teaching methods of Gift were taught.
Second, this paper focuses on the subjects of Suzhou Kindergarten Training School and
Fuzhou Union Kindergarten Training School. The following four subjects are common to both
(1) Subjects related to the essence and purpose of early childhood education: kindergarten
principles, Froebelʼs life, play and theory.
(2) Subjects related to the content and methods of early childhood education: play, drawing,
music, and stories.
(3) Religious subjects : Bible and Old Testament characters, Gospel of John.
(4) General education subjects.
The characteristics are as follows. First, Froebelʼs educational thought was taught. Graduates
of the kindergarten teachers training institutions had learned and understood the importance of
education for mothers, the idea of play, and childrenʼs spontaneous play with Gift, as advocated by
Froebel. Second, the establishment of academic subjects at these training institutions related to
the women missionariesʼ educational background prior to their arrival in China. For example, the
educational content at Fuzhou Union Kindergarten Normal School, including handicrafts, music,
play and theory, drawing, as well as the life of Froebel were believed to be based on the expertise
that Principal Allen held prior to arriving in China.