From Enthusiasm to Caution: Remaining Questions Surrounding the New Curriculum




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In lieu of a conclusion to the book "Japan's School Curriculum for the 2020s: Politics, Policy and Pedagogy", this short closing chapter expands on some of the remaining questions surrounding the new curriculum and its implications. In particular, despite enthusiasm for the new curriculum and its potential to respond to a certain conception of the new knowledge society, uncertainty and the need for caution arise from the wider policy landscape and overall context of education. Evidence suggests that the new curriculum was drafted in reference to well-established pedagogic principles and genuinely aims for a child-centred education, building on previous attempts by the Ministry of Education. This trajectory of change is adjusted based on the global consensus of a shift towards a ‘new knowledge society’. In doing so, MEXT tends towards a humanistic position on the new knowledge society. Simultaneously however, the curriculum operates in a broader policy context which has incorporated decentralization and performativity mechanisms related to examination results, along with their potential to ‘activate competition’ between prefectures and perhaps at lower administrative levels. Nonetheless, study of the curriculum remains important as a signal of intent of the Ministry of Education, and as a set of guidelines for teachers, school administrators, and educators in local settings. Further research is needed ‘on the ground’ in schools to better understand how these translations are unfolding.



Education reform, Structural reform, Education administration, Japanese education, Curriculum studies


Bamkin, S. (2022) From Enthusiasm to Caution: Remaining Questions Surrounding the New Curriculum. In: Okada, A. and Bamkin, S. (Eds) Japan's School Curriculum for the 2020s: Politics, Policy and Pedagogy, pp. 195-206. Springer.


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