Japanese Art Textbooks Between “Digital Schoolbooks” & “Mud Play”. From the view-point of a unified “Mind-Body” in Children



When looking back on the history of art education in Japan, it is impossible to think without considering “Art Textbooks”. “SEIGA-SHINAN (Instruction book of western drawings)” is a Japanese-style book originally published in 1871 by the Ministry of Education, written by Kawakami Togai (Japanese style painter) as the first art textbook in Japan. Since then, textbooks – prepared based on the National Curriculum Standards – have become a crucial issue for the educational system of our country and now are provided free of charge at the compulsory education stage. In recent years, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has been promoting the publication of digital textbooks with many kinds of contents, from pdf conversion of paper textbooks to contents incorporating the latest technology. In Japan, the wave of the digital textbook has been praised. In Japanese art education, cognitive aspects are being emphasized in the wave of modernization, on the one hand, but on the other hand, there is a history of art education that emphasizes physicality. “Muddy child care” at preschool level is a good example. In 1977 “Formative play” at 1st and 2nd grade of primary school was set to fill the gap between preschool education and school education. Sensory experiences and movements, action with and within natural elements, materials and others were used extensively, and it became recognized as a favorite educational content for children. But there is a history of conflict of art education between “La Pensée sauvage” and “Logical Thinking”. With the movement of publication of digital textbooks being activated, the relationship between digital media and analog media can be grasped from the perspective of “mind-body”. In the modern digital society, with regard to employment of potentials and personality, we think that the development of non-cognitive abilities (attitude, value, motivation, temper) should also be regarded as important in art education. But what kind of measures are required for that? Can a digital textbook be a tool that supports children’s subjective drawing and modeling activities? I am planning to present these issues with the above consciousness.


Naoki Mizushima, University of the Sacred Heart, Tokyo (Japan)


Selected bibliography:

Mizushima N., Wada N. et al., (2017) Handmade Picture Books, Asakura Shoten, Tokyo; Mizushima N., Matsumoto T. et al., (2015) Picture Books and Society, Asakura Shoten, Tokyo; Mizushima N., Fujie M., Iwasaki Y. (eds) (2015) Art and Craft in future, Nihon Bunkyou Shuppan, Osaka; Elliot W. Eisner, (1986) Educating Artistic Vision (translation, Nakase N., Mizushima, N. et al.), Reimei Shobo. (Editorial Supervision) Art and Handicraft [Grades 1-6] – Childrens Primary School’s books based on National Curriculum of Japan – Nihon Bunkyo Shuppan Osaka.