Educating Hearts and Minds: Reflections on Japanese Preschool and Elementary Education

Lewis, Catherine


Book written by 1991 Abe Fellow Catherine Lewis based on her project “Cross-Cultural Experience as a Catalyst to Educational Thinking and Practice: Development and Testing of ‘Trigger’ Videotapes.”

The question of how children become eager, motivated learners and
caring, responsible citizens has perplexed educators around the world.
Educating Hearts and Minds, a portrait of Japanese preschool and early
elementary education, offers a fresh perspective on these questions. Its
thesis–which will surprise many Americans–is that Japanese schools
are successful because they meet children’s needs for friendship,
belonging, and contribution. This book brings to life what actually
happens inside Japanese classrooms.
In a sharp departure from most previous accounts, this book suggests
that Japanese education succeeds because all children–not just the
brightest or best-behaved–somehow come to feel like valued members of
the school community. Ironically, Japanese teachers credit John Dewey
and other progressive Western educators for many of the techniques that
make Japanese schools both caring and challenging, but that never caught
on in this country. This book brings to Americans the voices of
Japanese classroom teachers–voices that are at once deeply consonant
with American aspirations and deeply provocative.