Adult and Community Education in Japan and the wider concern of fostering democratic citizenship in neoliberal times were themes discussed in a small group conversation with visiting Professor Takashi Miyazaki.
Takashi spoke of the history and development of adult education in Japan. He had a particular interest in community education and its relationship with Freirean critical thought. Camilla Fitzsimons shared findings from her research on community education in Ireland that indicated that only a small proportion of practitioners had engaged with Freirean thought and developed a critical position in relation to their work. Fergal Finnegan shared his thoughts on democratic and emancipatory adult education and the role of social movements in bringing about social change. Josephine Finn discussed the impact of marketisation and the push for standardisation nationally and internationally. Mary Ryan linked the conversation to the topic of learner vulnerability as an important but neglected topic for Freirean educators and Michael Kenny asked about the relationship between work and adult education in Japan.
This led to a wider exchange about the role of families and communities in adult education as well as an exploration of worrying trends towards alienation and pathological level of isolation and individualisation in Japanese and European society.
Professor Miyazaki spoke of leading Japanese adult education theorists such as Miyahara and Makabe amongst others. His recent publication on Developing critical education thought in community development; the Freirean approach in Japan, provides an interesting case study about a farmers’ college movement in Yamagata that began in the 1930’s from a small writing class in a primary school to an education and community movement.
The dialogue continued for a couple of hours as we shared experiences, practice and research interests. We concluded with a commitment to seek out opportunities to collaborate in the future.