Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
Newly appointed Education Minister Bunmei Ibuki admits that he is not an expert on education (“Education chief wants traditional values restored,” October 3rd). If his resume is accurate, he has no professional association with education at all, and the public must wonder why government consistently puts unqualified people in charge of administrations they are not trained for. So the Education Minister’s suggestions about education, schools, curricula, and the relationships (if any) of all these to Japanese society are mere amateur opinions, in the same league as most anybody else’s opinions on educational matters - even mine. And, what that means is that Mr. Ibuki does not know what he is talking about. So why should anyone listen to him just because he is the occupant of the moment of the Education Ministry seat?
As with America, I think we can say that traditional values - family values or others - are more the source of society’s problems than the cure for them. There is no Golden Age in the past when the dispensation of traditional values provided a better world, and despite all the ills of modern societies, we are NOT living in a degenerate age, comparatively speaking. That is ideological fantasy.
Social conservatives’ confessional faith in schools as places “to teach … traditional social norms” is a direct admission of the obvious truth that schools have naught to do with education and everything to so with socialization - or, social indoctrination, what can better be called “schooling.” The confusion of schooling with education is one of the recurring, fundamental fictions of our lives. And, no matter how much Government tries to tinker with society by tinkering with the laws regarding schools and education, in the end the effects of even the best efforts will always be negligible.
Printed on Sunday, October 22, 2006 as “Fantasy faith in schools.”