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February 6, 2007

Danish Educator and SGI President's Dialogue on Education Serialized in Monthly Magazine

Mr. Ikeda (right) and Mr. Henningsen (3rd from right) at the Seikyo Press building, Tokyo (September 2000)

Mr. Ikeda (right) and Mr. Henningsen (3rd from right) at the Seikyo Press building, Tokyo (September 2000)

Beginning with its March 2007 issue, Pumpkin, a Japanese monthly women's magazine, will serialize a dialogue on education between renowned Danish educator Hans Henningsen and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, titled Asu o tsukuru "kyoiku no seigyo" ("Shaping the Future: The Sacred Task of Education"--tentative translation).

Both the Danish educator and SGI President were born in 1928. After graduating from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, Mr. Henningsen began teaching in a folk high school, part of the traditional educational system in Denmark known as the "people's college." After serving as Askov Folk High School principal from 1980 to 1993, he became chair of the Denmark Association of Teachers' Training Colleges.

The two first met in September 2000 during Mr. Henningsen's visit to Japan with Henning Dochweiler, his successor at Askov Folk High School. At that time they discussed the history and ideals of Denmark's folk high school system that provides opportunities for lifelong learning, and the country's long-standing commitment to education.

Askov Folk High School maintains educational exchanges with Soka University and Soka Junior and Senior High Schools in Japan. In 2003, the school established the Askov-Ikeda Study (AIS) Group with Mr. Henningsen serving as chair. AIS aims to promote humanistic education focused on personal responsibility and empowerment and to contribute to peace through studying the ideals and pedagogy of thinkers and educators such as N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783-1872) who strongly believed education should not be reserved for an elite but made available to all people. Also among those who studied Grundtvig's ideas was Soka Gakkai founder Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, an educator who believed the purpose of education is the creation of value and the happiness of each student.

The new dialogue series will cover the educational philosophy developed by Grundtvig and his protégé Christen Kold (1816-70), the spirit of mentor and disciple that was the basis of their relationship and Denmark's unique educational system. In their discussions Mr. Ikeda advocates that the purpose of education is serving the happiness of people, including those who did not have earlier opportunities to further their learning.

[Adapted from an article in the February 6, 2007, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]