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Why Education?

"I consider education to be the culminating undertaking of my life. That is because the victory of education means the victory of the people."1

"Education must foster people who intuitively understand and know--in their minds, in their hearts, with their entire being--the irreplaceable value of human beings and the natural world. I believe such education embodies the timeless struggle of human civilization to create an unerring path to peace."2--Daisaku Ikeda [Read full text]

Ikeda regards education as fundamental to peace and positive social change. Through his dialogues, writings and collaborations, he has been active in reorienting education toward those values and approaches

Concern for the growth and happiness of each person is, in Ikeda's view, the essential spirit of education

Concern for the growth and happiness of each person is, in Ikeda's view, the essential spirit of education.

In Ikeda's philosophy the ultimate purpose of education, as with the purpose of life, can be expressed as "happiness." This perspective was the basis from which Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the father of Soka education, developed his ideas. The word here refers to the sense of fulfillment that comes from developing and deepening one's humanity, rather than a more superficial state of simply being untroubled or having one's desires realized. Ikeda's educational philosophy therefore is essentially about how to empower people to lead genuinely happy, creative lives.

For Ikeda, the relationship between education and peace is vital. As he has commented, "The essential responsibility of education is to foster in the minds of youth a love of humanity and a spirit to dedicate oneself for the sake of the people and for society."3 And again, "The task of education must be fundamentally to ensure that knowledge serves to further the cause of human happiness and peace."4 [Read full text]

Elementary school students in Tokyo, 1944. During 1930s and '40s, Japan's education system became a tool for inculcating unquestioning loyalty to the state.

Elementary school students in Tokyo, 1944. During 1930s and '40s, Japan's education system became a tool for inculcating unquestioning loyalty to the state.

Ikeda's conviction in this ideal is fueled by his own opposite experience of education as a young man in Japan in the 1930s and 40s. For the Japanese militarist government of the time, the education system was an effective means for molding docile, unquestioning subjects who were willing to give their lives in service of the state's aims. There have been numerous other examples in which education has functioned merely to produce self-serving elites. When education's function is framed in terms of serving some national interest--a means of producing people of value to big business and industry, for example--its essential purpose of fostering human beings grounded in respect for humanity will be obscured.

The ideal of fostering a love of humanity and a dedication to peace thus represents a core motivation of Soka education--an effort to direct learning to the service of humanity. It is a motivation that Ikeda believes both students and educators should keep clearly in focus. The ideal of global citizenship--individuals rounded in a reverence for life and motivated by a sense of responsibility to create a peaceful and just global society for all--is central to Ikeda's vision. One of the mottoes that Ikeda has created for Soka University in Japan, for example, encourages students to always ponder the question: "For what purpose should one cultivate wisdom?"