Recovery of Community for Learning Societies:

Learning from a Japanese Educational Pioneer

Dayle Bethel

An educational revolution is underway in the world… a revolution that is beginning to liberate thousands of children and young people in many different countries from the oppressive, personality stifling tyranny and mind-numbing boredom of industrial capitalism’s factory schools. The fascinating thing to note about this revolution is that it is emerging in country after country spontaneously, without any one source of leadership, without planning, without design, and largely without notice by the general public. Spurred by rapidly growing home schooling movements, alternative schools, and other self-learning initiatives, this revolution in education is a microcosm of the larger progressive, alternative, and transformational movements that are emerging worldwide, creating a transition:

from the "dominator" world view of contemporary industrial culture, with its central values of competition, self-interest, authoritarianism, materialism, violence, survival of the fittest,

to a "Gaian" or ecological world view based on the insight that everything is connected to everything else; that we are interdependent entities, systems within systems, in a grand and mysterious holistic cosmos.

In this article, it will be my purpose to discuss the contributions of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944), a Japanese educator/geographer, to this swelling global stream of revolutionary ideas and practices in human learning which is helping to transform educational systems in nearly every country in the world. Makiguchi dealt with the central realities of human existence, most of which are being lost to contemporary life. I refer in particular to his preoccupation with human community and his conviction that it is in community that individuals can attain the full measure of their humanness. Makiguchi’s writings are especially meaningful today as Japan, the once proud industrial superpower, internationally hailed as "Number One," slips deeper and deeper into crisis, a crisis about which Makiguchi warned at the beginning of the last century.

Learning Through Living

Makiguchi’s writings provide a unique perception of industrial society from the viewpoint of one who lived and worked in Japan during the early years of the 20th century. Like his fellow dissident educators in other cultures, such as Lewis Mumford, Mahatma Gandhi, and John Dewey, Makiguchi foresaw the dangers and tragic consequences of the social and educational policies taking shape in industrial societies: reckless disregard for the environment, the sacrifice of traditional values in pursuit of profits, and the isolating of children and young people day after day in schools, severing their ties with the natural environment as well as with their families and communities and forcing them to learn masses of fragmented, unrelated facts.

The earth, for Makiguchi, was a miracle. Life was a miracle, and he saw life vibrating through all phenomena. A major goal which began to motivate him early in his professional career was to call his fellows, particularly young people, to an awareness of and appreciation for the earth and for the life pulsating through it. In our interaction with our environment, Makiguchi believed, we should "regard people, animals, trees, rivers, rocks, or stones in the same light as ourselves and realize that we have much in common with them all. Such interaction causes us to feel, if not consciously think, ‘if I were in their (or its) place, what would I feel... or do?’ Sympathetic interactions occur, therefore, when you regard or feel another person or object that you are in contact with as a part of yourself or as one of your kind. You share experiences with that person or object and are able to place yourself in the position of that person or object."

Perhaps more than anything else, it was this reverence for nature, this sense of wonder and appreciation for life, this sense of being intimately connected with both our natural and social environments, that Makiguchi longed to communicate to his students and fellow beings. As he said, "Growing awareness of our indebtedness to our society gives rise to feelings of appreciation and a sense of social responsibility within us. Beginning in our very personal relationships...our sympathetic concern and appreciation expands to include the larger society and, ultimately, the whole world."2  The development of such awareness and appreciation was, he believed, of crucial importance both for nature’s sake and for the development of persons of moral character.

Such was Makiguchi’s invitation to young people in particular, and to all his contemporaries in general, to join him in a journey to explore the wonders of the earth and life born of the earth. Before embarking on this journey of discovery, Makiguchi explained that the method of inquiry to be used was that of participant observation. But what was to be the scope of that observation? "I arrived at a conviction," he wrote, "that the natural beginning point of understanding the world we live in and our relationship to it is that of a community of persons, land, and culture, which gave us birth; that community, in fact, which gave us our very lives and started us on the path toward becoming the persons we are. In other words, that community which has given us our rootedness as human beings. The importance of this rootedness and personal identity given us by our native cultural community, our homeland, can scarcely be overemphasized."

In order to understand what Makiguchi meant by community, we must first recognize the importance of "rootedness" in human experience. Rootedness, according to Makiguchi, is an indispensable element in the growth experience of both individuals and societies. Rootedness involves a special relationship between a person and a place. Rootedness involves a sense of appreciation for the land in which one is rooted and feelings of appreciation and responsibility toward it. Interaction with the land and one’s natural environment within the context of human scale communities is, according to Makiguchi’s thought, the source of integrity in human beings. Our loss of community in modern life and the rarity of integrity as a personal characteristic in modern society stem initially from our loss of love and respect for the land.4 

In our modern civilization, the loss of community and of the experience of rootedness in a particular habitat has had far reaching consequences for human beings and their societies. Contemporary life is characterized by increasing entropy, economic and technological chaos, ecological disaster, and ultimately, psychic dismemberment and disintegration.5  According to Morris Berman, we have created a "disenchanted" world, a world of mass administration and blatant violence, a world in which persons are alienated from each other, from nature, and from themselves, a world populated by human shells with a "sickness in their souls."

But it is one thing to recognize that our way back to psychological and social health is through community. It is quite another thing to understand how this can be accomplished. Our present society and its institutions have become unimaginably complex and interdependent. Thus, if we want to back away from the abyss that looms before us and create an alternative, more humane world, we must realize that there are no quick or easy answers; there will be no quick fixes. A better and more healthy world, if we succeed in creating it, will come into being only through honest efforts to rethink our central values and a deep commitment to the task of creating new communities and new social structures.

In order to recover community, and the personal and social health that can come only through community, it is essential to gain some understanding of the reasons that community was lost to modern life in the first place. What led to the breakdown of community life in every part of the world and the estrangement from nature which is a part of that breakdown? Increasingly, researchers, social analysts, and scientists of every type are coming to agreement in this regard. They are concluding that the primary factors in the breakdown and disappearance of community in modern life are the two institutions long considered to be the chief underpinnings of the good life: trade and schools.


The Consequences of "Free" Trade

Beginning in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was trade and modern-style schools working together which destroyed both community life and culture throughout the world, beginning in the areas of the world we know today as the "developing" countries. It was the early destruction of their small, economically self-sustaining communities and their cultures which is the primary reason they are still "developing."

The ancestors of the people living in these countries were forced to trade, at the point of a gun, so that small elites (in the countries from which the gun pointers had come) could live in style and luxury. In most cases, this meant turning these broken, conquered cultures into one-crop suppliers of products, which the conquering country’s elites desired, such as tea, coffee, tobacco, cocoa, rubber, tin, and many more. The list was long and became steadily longer as the years passed. In time, guns were no longer needed, because trade itself became capable of insuring that "trade" would continue and be protected. After several generations of such one-sided trade, its victims were permanently trapped. With their capacity for self-sufficiency destroyed, the alternative to trading left to them was starvation.

The great destructive force of industrialization, taking root in Japan at the beginning of the century, concerned Makiguchi as well, especially the taken-for-granted assumption of industrial capitalism that "bigger is always better." He was concerned about the rapid and unchecked growth of Japanese cities which, in turn, was leading to the impoverishment and decline of rural areas. "Neither the city nor the country is complete in and of itself," he wrote. "Each needs the other, not only for survival, but because the most full and rich life for human beings requires the cultivation and appreciation of the strengths and qualities which each has to offer. It is just because this is not understood and is too often ignored in the mad pursuit of pleasure and personal gain alone that problems develop which diminish and threaten the well-being of both the country and the city."

This process of community-culture destruction is not just a matter of history. This process is still going on, not only in the developing countries, but in the industrialized countries as well. Here in Japan, right before our eyes, "trade" relentlessly seeks the destruction of this country’s last remaining authentic communities, those built around rice culture. It is not only farmers, farm families, and farming communities that are disappearing in the name of trade, but many species of birds and insects which are dependent on rice culture and wet lands as well. It adds up to the destruction of a culture and a way of life. Likewise, in the United States, trade and national trade policies threaten the existence of the few remaining authentic communities left, as well as the efforts of various groups to recover community, develop natural and sustainable agriculture, and enable more localized control of resources and production.

Ironically, today free trade, the very element which has led directly to the destruction of community and the environment, and indirectly to most of the other problems confronting us, is being promoted as the panacea which can and will solve all our problems in the 21st century. The fact is, contemporary trading practices — particularly those presently emerging under the so-called "free trade" provisions of GATT and NAFTA and similar international organizations like the World Trade Organization — are beneficial only to that small number of persons who control and/or profit from the activities of a few giant transnational companies (TNCs). Some environmental groups, groups working to keep agriculture from becoming centrally-controlled agribusiness, and other allied groups have been attempting to get safeguards written into trade negotiations which would protect the environment, the position of small farmers and communities, etc. Unfortunately, those efforts for the most part are having little effect in counteracting the power and wealth of TNCs.

In the interests of making maximum profits, the advocates of free trade today are seeking complete planetary mobility of all resources, including capital and intellectual property. Why is this so important to them? Because in the "information society" now developing, that is the only way they can continue to control the earth’s resources and insure the kind of one-way trading practices which enrich them at the expense of everybody else on the planet, particularly the people of the "developing" countries. TNC spokespersons vigorously deny that this is the case, of course, insisting that unrestricted trade benefits everyone, and charging that anyone who disagrees with that view is advocating a return to primitivism. But the facts speak for themselves. A nearby example of what the people of developing countries and indigenous groups mean, when they complain of this one-sided trade, is the almost complete destruction of Southeast Asia’s forests within the last quarter of a century.

The economic and political power of TNCs is formidable. In the recent past, former Prime Minister Hosokawa tried, heroically but unsuccessfully, to protect Japanese farmers and rural communities from free trade pressures. But the pressure from international political and business leaders was too great. Rice culture in Japan will soon be history, unless the Japanese people rise up and support the efforts of leaders who attempt to stand up to such TNC-dominated international pressure.

One global economy controlled by a few major TNCs will be a disaster for the world’s people in the long run. The nightmare of a global elite, making rapprochement with TNC executives to introduce a new authoritarian world order, is no longer in the future. It is happening today. And it will succeed unless the world’s people begin soon to do some serious thinking and dialoguing among themselves about trade issues and the kind of world they want to bequeath to their children.

The "Success" of Compulsory Schooling

Modern schools are dangerous. They are dangerous for (at least) three reasons: First, they are based on incorrect and mistaken assumptions about the nature of reality. Second, they have failed in their most basic and important responsibility: the developing of persons of integrity and social consciousness. And third, their personality-destructive learning experiences create morally and socially irresponsible robots instead of persons.

Indeed, the innumerable social and environmental crises of our time involve not what schools have failed to do, but what they have succeeded in doing. Modern schools, through miseducating and violating the most elementary principles of human learning, have succeeded in turning out persons characterized by social antagonism, irresponsibility, and violence – qualities needed to "get ahead" – while simultaneously serving the interests of society’s political and economic elites. Children are turned into self-seeking egoists, who later become adult self-seeking egoists. And when whole societies are composed of self-seeking accumulators of wealth — and the power, status, and position which wealth can buy — three conditions inevitably follow: a breakdown of communal relations, steadily increasing violence both against persons and against nature, and steadily increasing corruption in all sectors of society. The few people who do not follow this life trajectory — the people whose inner core of being remains alive and active — represent the modern school’s failures, not its successes.

Makiguchi spoke out strongly on what he saw as the life-threatening damage being done to children in the Japanese schools of his day: "The detrimental effects of force-feeding a small child can be easily seen because of the small body’s inability to metabolize more than it can digest. The excessive bulk passes through the child’s system, an undigested waste. Or worse, it may lodge in the digestive tract, slowly putrefying and poisoning the whole system. Unfortunately, the effects of psychological toxification in children caused by the forced learning of masses of unintelligible information are not immediately visible. Consequently, the detrimental effect of this poisoning process in children’s lives is not recognized. The situation is serious, but when we search for the causes of the problem, we are faced with the paradox that teachers and parents alike see themselves as providing for the future well-being of the children even though they make them miserable in the process."7  

Makiguchi believed that the indirect, second-hand educational system that had developed in his country was the height of folly. Primarily a product of implantation from Western cultures, that system of education, he charged, confined learners to classrooms and forced them to go through a meaningless routine of "memorizing and forgetting, memorizing, forgetting, and on and on." Furthermore, it severed the learners’ ties with the natural systems making up their environment. As he explained, "In the days before there were schools the prevailing method of guiding young people to the proper roles in the general scheme of life was an extended home life, whereby one apprenticed at the family trade throughout one’s formative years, with this training supplemented by things learned from the local community. Then came the Meiji period (1868-1912) with its modern education and the spread of schools... Everyone was taken by the hand and dragged off to schools, and soon the other two schemes of learning fell into disuse. This was the age of the school reigning unchallenged and omnipotent. Only in recent years have we seen the grave error of our ways and tried to fill in the gap with various kinds of adjunct education and youth groups for extracurricular activity..."

Makiguchi proposed what he called a "half-day school" system, from elementary schooling to the university, which would cut back on ill-managed education that was wasting valuable work-learning time. In a marvelous statement summing up the fundamental purpose of half-day schooling, Makiguchi wrote that, "study is not seen as a preparation for living, but rather study takes place while living, and living takes place in the midst of study. Study and actual living are seen as more than parallels; they inform one another intercontextually, study-in-living and living-in-study, throughout one’s whole life. In this sense, it is not the better economic budgeting of school programs but the instilling of joy and appreciation for work that becomes the main focus of the proposed changes."9  

Makiguchi’s professional life spanned four decades, from 1890 to 1930. During most of that time, he served as a teacher and principal of elementary schools in various parts of Japan, seeking, to the extent possible given the rigidity of the educational system, to experiment in implementing his educational ideas. The results of these experiments were impressive and Makiguchi received strong support from some of his former students and teachers who taught under him. However, with few notable exceptions, Japanese academics and educational administrators bitterly denounced Makiguchi as a "rabble rouser" and "troublemaker", labelling his ideas and proposed educational reforms as unworkable nonsense. These sentiments within the educational establishment, together with the increasing influence of the military in Japanese society, led to Makiguchi’s forced retirement from his teaching post.

The final blow came with the assassination of Prime Minister Inukai in 1932 by military elements. After that Makiguchi gave up trying to improve Japanese education and society through educational channels, and sought to achieve his goals through affiliation with Nichiren Shoshu, a Buddhist religious sect he had become acquainted with in 1928. His activities between 1932 and 1943 laid the groundwork for the emergence of the Soka Gakkai, one of the fastest-growing and most influential of the "New Religions" which developed in post-World War II Japan. On July 6, 1943 Makiguchi and 20 of his key supporters were imprisoned for defying the orders of Japan’s leaders to pay homage to deities of the Military Government-supported State Shinto. Makiguchi died in prison on November 18, 1944 from malnutrition, at the age of 73.10 

Makiguchi’s educational proposals and his efforts to implement them in early 20th century Japan point to several key principles which have significance for those of us who seek to create more effective learning systems today. Foremost of these is his insistence that the education of the young occur in the localized physical and social environments of their home communities. Direct learning — in contrast to second-hand learning in isolated school rooms, segregated from the life of the community, as was the norm in the schools of Makiguchi’s day — is a corollary principle.

Other insights and guidelines for educators emerge from these two key principles. Teachers are mentors, learning guides, and role models. The learner’s community and bio-region is the source of the curriculum. The learner comes to know her/his community intimately through study of its history, its problems, its assets, its arts and crafts, its values and ideals, through democratic participation in the community’s affairs, and from immersion in its productive life. Like Mahatma Gandhi, his contemporary, Makiguchi believed that this kind of organic learning within the on-going life of one’s community nurtured awe, appreciation, and feelings of responsibility both toward the natural world and the network of community relationships which sustain one’s life. Especially important, he stressed, is that the growing child have, as an integral part of its learning experience, opportunity to participate actively in and contribute toward the work of the community and to feel that her/his contribution is valued and appreciated by the members of that community.


Looking to the Future

Although Makiguchi’s vision of an industrial society based on love and respect for the environment, and of holistic learning occurring within nature and community, was rejected by Japanese society in his lifetime, his ideas and proposals have played a significant role in the current worldwide revolution in education and society. I believe it is time for common people throughout the world to do as Makiguchi did: to engage in serious, committed study and research in order to acquire the wisdom and the understanding necessary to regain control over their lives and their communities.

My efforts toward these ends have centered mainly in two endeavors. One is the creation of The International University Asia Pacific, with Learning Centers in Kyoto, Japan and Honolulu, Hawaii in the United States. At these Centers, three aspects of university education are strongly challenged: 1) the test-focused nature of instruction, which serves the screening and credential interests of corporations and government agencies; 2) the increasing control of universities by corporations and government agencies, who use their money to influence university policy/research; 3) the absence of university leadership, ideals and vision for societal issues. These Learning Centers offer a place where learning can be experienced as an exciting adventure, in the company of other adventurers, where one’s work and learning would be in response to the future and future generations and to the community of which the learner is a part.

Each learner designs his or her own individual program, according to individual interests, needs and situations. These typically combine personal study, research, writing, projects, meetings, seminars, work, conferences, workshops, and travel. The primary instrument for evaluating learner’s progress is a portfolio, which may contain research papers, letters to newspapers, articles, progress reports, works of art and handicrafts, albums, and journals. Through these different media, learners are able to describe their feelings and analyze their progress (or lack of progress), their insights and ideas, their problems and mistakes, their failures and new beginnings.

The International University Asia Pacific’s first Center was established in Kyoto in 1974.11  Two years ago, the Kyoto Center’s community-based, student centered courses and educational programs came to the attention of two other activist educators in Hawaii: Gene Tamashiro, an artist, graphic designer, musician, and natural-born performer, and Richard Hogeboom, a specialist in developing successful, self-maintaining, human scale educational enterprises. The synergy and brainstorming sparked by our combined experience and expertise has led to the launching in Hawaii of IKOH <> (The Invisible Kingdom of Humanity), a new organization dedicated to initiating and fostering learning communities in Hawaii. IKOH’s mission is to educate, enlighten, and empower individuals and communities with the spiritual wisdom, cultural awareness, and scientific understanding, to positively redefine and redesign our living relationships within ourselves, between each other, and throughout the natural world. It thereby seeks to enhance the capacity for greater self-reliance, sustainability, and community participation in democratic decision-making processes.

IKOH, drawing on the experience, expertise, and track record of The International University Asia Pacific, has created an educational division, IKOH Academy, which is based on three basic principles:

1. The student, not the teacher, is primarily responsible for learning.

2. The student’s community (local community, natural bio-region and ultimately, the whole planet) — past, present, and future — is the main source of the curriculum.

3. Programs and structures will be human scale.

IKOH Academy represents Hawaii’s local neighborhood school reinvented for the 21st-Century. It hopes to be the vanguard of a burgeoning network of independent, locally based, locally operated activity hubs for citizens of all ages — infants to elders — to connect with each other and with local and global resources. In this way, a state wide open-system of voluntarily formed, self-organizing, human-scale groups will be formed, built on relationships of mutual volition, affinity, and respect. The individual and collective focus will ground local community identity and belonging and integrate it with the expansiveness of global connectivity.

IKOH Academy has also created a research arm, the Hawaii Center for Applied Self-Reliance and Sustainability Studies which will:

1. serve as a sustainability think tank for the Academy.

2. engage in cutting-edge research.

3. develop and implement programs and projects by which to share and disseminate research findings to individuals and communities in Hawaii.

4. promote dialogue with and among members of individual communities about issues, problems and opportunities pertaining to the self-reliance and sustainability of Hawaii’s communities.

5. engage in dialogue with the elected representatives of the people of Hawaii about these issues.

IKOH is also creating new media within Hawaii to support the formation of learning communities. For example, the Heart of Aloha is a groundbreaking and beautifully crafted video, which features the mystical soul of Hawaii’s people, its incredible island art and music scene, its breathtaking natural scenery. The Heart of Aloha also asks the tough questions and offers much-needed dialogue and insight into our growing economic, cultural, and environmental challenges. IKOH Visions is IKOH’s newsletter, which serves as a peoples’ forum for self-reliance and sustainability awareness and information. It is the primary vehicle for communicating IKOH Academy’s courses and workshop offerings, the first of which are scheduled for Fall 2002, as well as for sharing other ongoing community building projects.

One of the central challenges we faced initially in forming IKOH and IKOH Academy was finding and enlisting capable and qualified partners: mentors, program facilitators, project coordinators, communication specialists, and other resource persons. But within a period of a few months, through an amazing series of synchronistic experiences, a marvelous team of people, each capable of adding another essential component needed for pursuing IKOH’s vision, has been drawn together. Or, as some of the members of the team express their experience, they "have found each other." Just one of many examples or results of this synergistic process is in an invitation just received from one Hawaii community for IKOH to partner with it and with its community-created Charter School.12 Together we hope to create community programs and projects within the context of a community learning center, aimed at developing the community’s capacities to achieve greater self-reliance, sustainability, and local control of elements that affect the personal and collective well-being of the lives of its citizens. IKOH itself has served merely as the catalyst for all this to happen. As each new participant has brought his or her particular skills, experience, hopes and dreams to the team, IKOH’s original vision has been expanded and enriched, and its aims and goals have become more clearly defined and identified.

As I have attempted to analyze and evaluate these developments, I have come to one central realization. That is, the absolute importance and indispensability of dialogue in efforts to promote educational and social transformation. There is a near total absence in our contemporary mass, industrial societies of opportunities for dialogue. Opinions, personal convictions, and understanding of issues are formed, not by informed discussion and dialogue on the part of a socially conscious and aware citizenry, but by the mainstream media and advertising agencies, which amounts to nothing less than brainwashing and indoctrination. Increasing numbers of citizens are beginning to realize that democratic self-government is impossible under these conditions, which leads to elite domination and control of whole societies.

There is growing awareness, too, that this domination and control of global affairs by elites dedicated exclusively to profit maximization, is a central factor in the crisis presently being experienced in industrial countries — of which urban violence, accelerating crime, the spread of drugs, increasing numbers of the homeless and impoverished, massive corruption among business and political leaders, environmental disintegration, are all a part. The scope and seriousness of these crisis conditions are forcing increasing numbers of people around the world to question the institutions within which they live and the reductionist, mechanistic mindset which underlies them.

A third factor needed for understanding our present global situation is what is generally referred to as the "demassification of the media." Thanks to revolutionary changes in communication media — advances in computers, printing, and electronic communication — it is much more difficult for information to be centrally controlled and monopolized by a few powerful corporations and political bureaucracies. Today, opportunities for sharing information, opinions, and insights among ordinary people, separated by long distances, have skyrocketed.

The meaning and significance of the three factors just described (the indispensable role of dialogue in effective self-government and its absence from contemporary discourse; the deepening crisis conditions in industrial societies created by the exploitative activities of elitist multinational corporations and the governments they buy; and the communication potential of the massification of media) have been recognized and understood by a small minority of people — such as Makiguchi, Gandhi, Dewey, and Mumford, to name a few — for many years. What is different today is that this recognition and understanding has, in the past one to two decades, begun to expand exponentially. There are now hundreds of thousands of people around the world who are questioning and breaking free from the mental bonds and unthinking acquiescence spun for them by commercially controlled media and advertising interests. This awakening, in turn, is giving rise to an exciting and hope-inspiring phenomenon: the organic formation of small, community-centered dialogue groups in nearly every country of the world.

The formation of IKOH and its potential for contributing to the empowerment of local communities in Hawaii can best be evaluated and understood against this larger background of the simultaneous re-emergence of community-based dialogues in every part of the world. Dialogue and community. "In and through community," as American educator, M. Scott Peck (1987), has written, "lies the salvation of the world."  But it is dialogue that provides the dynamic and galvanizing energy of community. Without dialogue, community cannot exist, democracy cannot exist. A "civilization of the dialogue" lies at the heart of a free people. "Of prime and lasting significance to the upgrading of the educative effort and to the endurance of a free society is a deeper concern for and an implementation of the ‘Civilization of the Dialogue’" (Drake 1967).  Through dialogue, in community, lies the salvation of the world.



1 Makiguchi (1903), p.55-56.

2 Ibid, p.60-61.

3 Ibid, p.29-30

4 Makiguchi (1903), Chapter 1, p.5; Chapter 2, p.13-14.

5 Berman (1981)

6 Makiguchi (1903), Vol. 5, pp. 148-149. For contemporary verification of Makiguchi’s insight in this regard, see Leopold Kohr’s assertion that throughout history, people who have lived in small states have been happier, more peaceful, more creative, and more prosperous. Wherever something goes terribly wrong in this world, Kohr, believes, something is too big. (Resurgence Magazine, No. 208, pp. 64-65).

7 Bethel (1989)

8 Ibid., p. 181.

9 Ibid., p. 156. Half a century later, Jeremy Rifkin expressed a vision of education very similar to that of Makiguchi: "The artificial separation between human culture and nature, characteristic of the Newtonian era, will give way to a new reunification of the two in the coming Solar Age. The concept of ‘man against nature’ will be replaced by the concept of ‘people in nature’. The educational process will reflect this basic change. In contrast to the current academic process, which separates students from the outside world for twelve to sixteen years in a hermetically sealed, artificial environment, the educational experience in the entropic era will emphasize learning through day-to-day experiences in the world. Apprenticeship will once again take on the importance it had in previous periods of history. At the same time, the large, centralized learning complexes typical of the last stages of the age of non-renewables will give way to the notion of ‘learning environments.’ In the Solar Age, going to school will mean going into the community to learn." (Jeremy Rifkin, Entropy: A New World View, (New York: Bantam Books, 1981), p.229)

10 Bethel (1973)

11 For further information about The International University Asia Pacific and its programs of holistic learning, see Creating Learning Communities, R. Miller, ed. VT: The Foundation for Educational Renewal, 2000, p.80-89.

12 A Charter School is a recent development in American education, still in an experimental stage, which permits a local community to create, operate, and take responsibility for its own community learning system.


Berman, M. The Re-enchantment of the World. Cornell University Press, 1981.

Bethel, D. Education for Creative Living. Iowa State University Press, 1989.

______. Makiguchi the Value Creator. Weatherhill Publishing Company, Tokyo, 1973.

______. "Work, Community, and the Development of Moral Character" in Creating Learning Communities, R. Miller, ed. VT: The Foundation for Educational Renewal, 2000.

Drake, W. Intellectual Foundations of Modern Education, Columbus, Ohio: Charles E.

Merrill Books, 1967.

Makiguchi, T. Jinsei Chirigaku (A Geography of Human Life). 1903.

Miller, R. What Are Schools For? Holistic Education Press, Vermont, 1997.

Peck, S. The Different Drum. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1987.

Suzuki, M. "The International University, Japan: A 25-Year Experiment in Restructuring University Education" in Creating Learning Communities, R. Miller, ed. Vermont: The Foundation for Educational Renewal, 2000.



Dayle Bethel <> is dean and professor of education and anthropology at The International Universityıs learning centers in Kyoto, Japan and Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. His special interest is the role of education in the formation of persons and societies, and he has been an active participant in movements for holistic educational alternatives and institutional transformation. He is currently working in partnership with other educators and futurists in Hawaii in enabling the development of sustainable, self-reliant local communities through creating community-based learning centers.