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Promoting Political Participation through Experience-based Political Education
Unformatted Document Text:  through trying to incorporate such values that might be beyond their imagination, students start to learn what politics is. 2) Case Suited for the Seminar: What Experiencing “Politics” Means As the objectives of the seminar, we placed the following three. 1) To help the participating students identify who the interested groups involved are, and what the interests are they each represent. 2) To help them examine the way how interested groups can cooperate, and how they can peacefully reconcile their differences. And 3) to help them find out the role citizens should play and extend their interest into other social issues. All three objectives are pursued in a setting where students freely exchange their views with other participants. What is most important as we build a political education program is how we define “politics” that students are to experience. Depending on the definition, the contents of the program vary largely. The authors, however, do not intent to present any special meanings of politics here, but rather use the textbook usage of politics. Japanese social studies textbooks for junior and senior high schools defines “politics” as something that “in a society where many people live together, reconcile the interests of each, and forms and maintains the order. For that purpose, some authority is needed to solve the confrontation and to make the people ultimately subordinate to the order.” 22 We do not find any problem using this general definition in our program. Political process is the very process in which we find the confronting values behind the problems in the public space, and try to formulate the solutions supported by the interested parties. If students simulate the experiences of this process, they can deepen their understanding of complexity of politic and the government, and become more confident in their own ability to deal with politics. This is the most important point of our program. Accordingly, the case to be taken up in the experience-based political education program should be the issues students find in their daily life, in stead of highly disputed political issues. In the latter case, so much has been discussed and students end up borrowing the existing knowledge instead of forming their own opinions, and thus make the experience less effective for our purpose. Also the gap in the pre-existing knowledge makes barriers among the participating students. In the former case, we can not only expect an additional effect, namely their increased interest in their own community, but also their leaning process repeats itself through extending their 22 Civics: Japanese Society and World, revised version, Tokyo: Shimizu Shoin, pp. 34-35. Cf. Japanese textbooks for junior or high school students; Civics: Toward the Global Citizen, revised version, Tokyo: Teikoku Shoin, p.vi, Politics and Economy, Tokyo: Tokyo Shoseki, pp.6-8. 24

Authors: Ishibashi, Shoichiro. and Chieko, Otsuru.
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through trying to incorporate such values that might be beyond their imagination, students start to
learn what politics is.
2) Case Suited for the Seminar: What Experiencing “Politics” Means
As the objectives of the seminar, we placed the following three. 1) To help the
participating students identify who the interested groups involved are, and what the interests are
they each represent. 2) To help them examine the way how interested groups can cooperate, and
how they can peacefully reconcile their differences. And 3) to help them find out the role citizens
should play and extend their interest into other social issues. All three objectives are pursued in a
setting where students freely exchange their views with other participants.
What is most important as we build a political education program is how we define
“politics” that students are to experience. Depending on the definition, the contents of the program
vary largely. The authors, however, do not intent to present any special meanings of politics here,
but rather use the textbook usage of politics. Japanese social studies textbooks for junior and senior
high schools defines “politics” as something that “in a society where many people live together,
reconcile the interests of each, and forms and maintains the order. For that purpose, some authority
is needed to solve the confrontation and to make the people ultimately subordinate to the order.”
We do not find any problem using this general definition in our program.
Political process is the very process in which we find the confronting values behind the
problems in the public space, and try to formulate the solutions supported by the interested parties.
If students simulate the experiences of this process, they can deepen their understanding of
complexity of politic and the government, and become more confident in their own ability to deal
with politics. This is the most important point of our program.
Accordingly, the case to be taken up in the experience-based political education
program should be the issues students find in their daily life, in stead of highly disputed political
issues. In the latter case, so much has been discussed and students end up borrowing the existing
knowledge instead of forming their own opinions, and thus make the experience less effective for
our purpose. Also the gap in the pre-existing knowledge makes barriers among the participating
students. In the former case, we can not only expect an additional effect, namely their increased
interest in their own community, but also their leaning process repeats itself through extending their
22
Civics: Japanese Society and World, revised version, Tokyo: Shimizu Shoin, pp. 34-35. Cf. Japanese textbooks
for junior or high school students; Civics: Toward the Global Citizen, revised version, Tokyo: Teikoku Shoin, p.vi,
Politics and Economy, Tokyo: Tokyo Shoseki, pp.6-8.
24


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