Review of: Yoko Yamasaki & Hiroyuki Kuno (eds.) (2017). Educational progressivism, cultural encounters and reform in Japan. Abingdon & New York: Routledge.

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article reviewpeer-review


The era comprising the last decade of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century can justifiably be seen as one of the most interesting periods in the history of education, for it saw the rise of an abundance of distinctive approaches to education that would come to shape contemporary educational practice. However, beyond this mere statement of relevance, there is not much agreement as to how to describe or even how to name this period. Unlike, perhaps, any other era, how it is named and evaluated, and who is perceived to be part of this change in the pedagogical world, depends on the perspective of the observer: one could call it Progressive Education, Reformpädagogik, Éducation nouvelle, and each of those concepts would include certain biases, certain inclusions and exclusions. But even those who recognise that the new education movement reached worldwide tend to see the world as somewhat limited in this regard–limited to Europe and North America. It is for those people that Yoko Yamasaki and Hiroyuki Kuno’s book can serve as a powerful reminder that the wave of new education could be seen as the first truly global pedagogical reform movement that, despite all the stereotypes that have governed, and still govern, most views of Japanese education in itsapparent rigidness, its harsh exam system and its assumed emphasis on sociability above individuality, includes Japan and other countries usually not mentioned. It is therefore not only against the stereotypical view of Japanese education that the book reviewed here takes a stand; it also offers a new and much broader perspective on one of the most important eras of educational history. Notwithstanding the merits individual chapters might have for the specialised discussions within certain research fields, it is the book as a whole that marksa timely and welcome contribution to the development of a more global view on education and its history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-141
Number of pages3
JournalHistory of Education
Issue number1
Early online date31 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2021


  • Japan
  • Japanese education
  • progressivism

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