Moral and Social Development in Japanese Elementary Education: A Study of One Elementary School

This is a participant observation case study of an elementary school in Japan. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate how Japanese elementary schools emphasize moral and social development as well as academic achievement. For this purpose, the Japanese educational history and cultural aspects of moral and social development were studied. In addition, one particular elementary school was observed and seven teachers were interviewed. In a typical elementary school, moral and social development promote respect for society and the established order; diligence; self-criticism; and valuing group goals above individual interests. In this research, the time allocation and contents for moral and social development were studied as to how these are actually integrated into the school curriculum. The interviewed teachers were two each in the first, fourth, and sixth grades and one administrator. A questionnaire was designed to analyze eight variables: 1. Teacher characteristics 2. Activities designed to enhance academic achievement 3. Activities designed to enhance moral and social development 4. Grade integrated activities 5. The general organization of the curriculum 6. Principles used to organize the elements of the subjects taught 7. The development of flexible plans or source units 8. The process of curriculum development. Variables 5 through 8 are based on Tyler's "Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction" (1949). The results of the observations demonstrated that there was strong emphasis on moral and social development as well as academic achievement. The objectives of moral and social development were exercised throughout pupils' school lives. This case study offers not only much valuable information and many practical ideas for moral and social development but also insight into the pupil-teacher relationship, curriculum development, and a possible teacher-support system for American elementary schools.