At a number of the discussions at CIES, the question of the history of juku came up (both the term, as well as the teaching/school format).
Victor Kobayashi (emeritus, Univ of Hawai’i, and our very gracious host for the “Enduring Contexts” discussions paralleling the 2011 AAS meetings) was particularly interested and insightful on this.
He pointed out – quite correctly – that juku had a long pre-Meiji history. In fact, this is one of the important observations about supplementary education in general, i.e. what we see as a process of ‘privatization’ now is really just a ‘re-privatization’ after a century or two of the extraordinary growth of public education systems.
In the context of pre-modern juku, Kobayashi pointed in particular to the use of the term 教養 (kyôyô – erudition, refinement, Bildung) as opposed to the Meiji neologism of 教育 (kyôiku – education).
Numerous private educational institutions then came to be known as juku during the Meiji era, most prominently perhaps 慶應義塾 (today’s Keiô University: English History | Japanese History) in somewhat of a departure from premodern practice.
The final chapter on historical roots is the use of the term juku in postwar Japan, but that deserves a post of its own.
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