Exploring Soka Education
Ikeda Center gathers scholars to discuss Soka Education.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 23—The related fields of Soka education studies and Daisaku Ikeda studies took a big step forward on June 23. That’s when 14 education scholars gathered at the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue to discuss directions that would both advance the practice of Soka education1 and increase awareness of it within academia.
The assembled scholars included John Dewey expert Jim Garrison, of Virginia Tech University, and Jason Goulah, director of the Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies at DePaul University. Dr. Goulah, who moderated the seminar, led participants in an exploration of, first, how Soka education can uniquely address the most pressing issues in contemporary education and, second, how it intersects with their individual research interests.
A compelling topic to emerge related to what Fernand Gervais, dean of the Faculty of Education at Laval University in Quebec, Canada, called the “disease of anxiety,” which manifests broadly in our hyper-competitive society, including in education settings. Participants agreed that value creation, the heart of Soka education, can help students and teachers know that they are never powerless to shape their lives and their environments for the better.
Julia Hrdina, who is a doctoral student in educational leadership at Lesley University, added that in her view, “respect for others” is the essential expression of value creation, and as such is the foundation for stronger social connections within a school. As for the pressure of competition, she said that the most important question for students and teachers alike is not how you will succeed, but rather how you will contribute.
In addition to engaging in extended open-hearted and open-minded dialogue, participants considered concrete “next steps” to advance the field, including the prospect of creating a journal devoted to Soka education and Daisaku Ikeda studies.
NOTE: 1. Soka education founder Tsunesaburo Makiguchi believed that the purpose of education must be the lifelong happiness of the learner, so that they may create supreme value in their own lives and for society. Realizing th