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September 08, 2008



Date: September 6 (Sat), 2008
Place: Neiseikan, Doshisha University, Kyoto

Keynote Speech: "'New' Official Teaching Guidelines"
After a brief opening address by Doshisha University Professor Soichi Shinohara, Mr. Yasuhiro Ohkura (National Institute for Educational Policy Research) gave a keynote speech on "'New' Official Teaching Guidelines," where he focused on recent changes in the official teaching guidelines for social studies including economics for middle schools.
Particularly in the subject of civil society (Kohmin), such terms as "conflicts vs. agreements" and "efficiency vs. justice (equity)" should be taken up as fundamental concepts to understand the contemporary economy and society. Also the role and function of finance should be explained by referring to the concepts of direct and indirect financing in connection with changing economic and social conditions. It is important that students be encouraged to think themselves of the roles of the markets, public finance, etc., based on fundamental concepts that they learn in class.

Symposium 1: "On Textbooks"
The first symposium, moderated by Prof. Eiji Yamane (Mie University), took up various issues on textbooks in "Kohmin" (Civil Society) at middle schools, "Gendai Shakai" (Contemporary Society) and "Seiji Keizai" (Politics and Economy) at high schools. Prof. Yamane as well as Prof. Takenori Inose (Hirosaki University) joined the panel as textbook writers, while Ms. Sakae Nakaoki (Shimizu Shoin) joined as a textbook editor, and Mr. Katsuya Takahashi (Tokyo-toritsu Ohshuhkan Middle-High) and Mr. Ken Ito (Hachinohe-shiritu Konakano Middle School) as textbook users.
Several interesting points emerged as a result of their interaction, such as (1) the most widely used (best -selling) textbooks are those that cover most of the key concepts with few omissions, thus may readily used by anyone, (2) those textbooks that emphasize stories to attract students' interest are generally unpopular among teachers due to the lack of freedom and discretion left for teachers, and (3) the widely used textbooks are generally boring for students, so teachers tend to deviate from the textbooks if they try to give interesting lectures to students.
In conclusion, textbook writes and publishers are advised to appeal to schools and teachers regarding the strengths and characteristics of their textbooks for their information.

Symposium 2: "How to Support School Education in Economics"
In the second symposium, moderated by Prof. Hisashi Kuhihara (Shinshu University), the issue of how to support economic education at schools was discussed by Mr. Soichi Nakagawa (Consumer Education Support Center), Ms. Kikuko Harada (Entrepreneurship Development Center) and Mr. Yojiro Nagayasu (Bank of Kyoto).
The three panelists first explained what they have been doing in supporting school children and students at schools and elsewhere in their respective fields, such as consumer education, social entrepreneurship, and money and finance.
Their challenges include how to attract human and finacial resources to their volunteer activities, and how to enhance the effectiveness of their support by maintaining their contacts and feedback with children and students over time.

Concluding Remarks:
In his concuding remarks, Prof. Fumio Ohtake (Osaka University) summarized various presentations and discussions, and pointed out that one of the charactersitics of economics textbooks for middle and high schools in Japan seems to be less emphasis on the merits of the market economy and more emphasis on its demerits, as well as negative descriptions of government activities, compared to the corresponding textbooks in other countries such as the U.S. and Europe.
At any rate, at least some parts of textbooks and reading materials in economics at the middle and high school level should be rewritten, and this annual meetings were quite useful in making us realize the necessity to do so, according to Prof. Ohtake.
Finally, a closing address was given by Prof. Inose, but heated discussions continued among participants at the Konshinkai party after the meetings.

NEE Annual Meetings Program:

For Photos and a Japanese version of this report, see: