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About Daisaku Ikeda

Ikeda speaking

As the founder of a network of 14 Soka schools across seven countries in Asia and the Americas, as founder of six institutes of peace, culture and educational research across three countries in Asia, Europe and the U.S., as a prolific educational philosopher, and as an engaged advocate for truly human education, Daisaku Ikeda has demonstrated excellence in both professional service and interpretive scholarship relating Makiguchi’s and Toda’s approach of soka, or “value-creating,” pedagogy to practice in and outside the context of schooling. Because of Ikeda’s efforts in these areas, value-creating pedagogy has gone from being practiced solely by Makiguchi, Toda and a few colleagues in 1930s Japan to becoming one of Japan’s most internationally practiced educational approaches, and Ikeda himself has become the focus of extensive scholarship globally and the recipient of over 350 honorary doctorates and professorships.

Makiguchi was an elementary school teacher and principal who theorized value-creating pedagogy in The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy (1930-34), which Josei Toda edited and published. In The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy, Makiguchi argued that the aim and purpose of education should match that of life—happiness. Makiguchi taught at a time of increasingly militarized education in Japan and thus reconceptualized the neo-Kantian value system (truth•good•beauty) into a practical educational philosophy of value creation (gain•good•beauty), asserting that education should seek to foster independent and contributive world citizens, not subjects of a militarizing and colonizing state. He and Toda were imprisoned as thought criminals for such ideas and practice; and Makiguchi died in prison.

Young Ikeda
Born in Tokyo in 1928, Ikeda was among the first generation of students educated under Japan’s militarized wartime (1931–1945) indoctrination system, and he experienced firsthand the human loss, anguish, and turmoil of a nation at war. His educational practice and scholarship stem from an earnest desire to respond to the overwhelming concerns he has grappled with since childhood about the forces that ravaged his youth and family life, namely, What is the proper way to live? What is true patriotism? What is the criterion of good and evil? What is the correct relationship between education, power, and political authority? At age 19, Ikeda encountered Josei Toda and knew instantly that he could trust Toda for resisting the military state. Ikeda quit school to work for and to be privately tutored by Toda, what Ikeda now calls “Toda University.” With Toda, Ikeda experienced firsthand the impact of a teacher on a learner’s life, and this one-to-one, life-to-life relationship manifested for him the fullest sense of human education. Thus, Ikeda stated in his 1996 lecture at Teachers College, Columbia University, “students’ lives are not changed by lectures, but by people,” and “It is my abiding conviction that it is the teacher dedicated to serving students, and not the inanimate facility, the makes a school.”

Ikeda writing

Toda’s influence on Ikeda is particularly strong with regard to the latter’s focus on education. It was Toda’s “constant and impassioned plea” for a type of education that would liberate humanity from war toward “an eternally unfolding humanitarian quest” that led Ikeda to consider education as “the final and most crucially important undertaking of my life.” It was also Toda who sparked the flame in Ikeda’s heart to establish Soka schools to actualize on a large scale the practice he experienced personally with Toda.

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