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Successful adaptation to a lifelong learning society requires the ability to think and act independently. This concept is reflected in the first report of the fifteenth Central Council for Education, "The Model for Japanese Education in the Perspective of the Twenty-first Century," which was submitted on July 19, 1996. The report emphasizes the need to encourage "zest for living" (ikiru chikara) in children.
In its report the council makes the following observations about zest for living: "It was clear to us that what our children will need in future, regardless of the way in which society changes, are the qualities and the ability to identify problem areas for themselves, to learn, think, make judgments and act independently and to be more adept at problem-solving. We also felt that they need to be imbued with a rich sense of humanity in the sense that while exercising self-control, they must be able to cooperate with others, have consideration for their needs and have a spirit that feels emotion. It also goes without saying that if they are to lead vigorous lives, a healthy body is an indispensable requirement. We decided to use the term zest for living to describe the qualities and abilities needed to live in a period of turbulent change and felt it is important to encourage the right balance between the separate factors underlying this term."
The report also highlights the importance of zest for living in the lifelong learning society: "Fostering zest for living is a vitally important task in our so-called lifelong-learning society, in which there is an increase in the needs for the learning required for self-realization along with demands for appropriate adaptation to social change."
Zest for living is acquired through various activities, including structured learning in schools, parent-child interaction at home, play with friends, and contact with people in the community. It is enhanced through well-balanced education based on cooperation among families, schools, and communities.
The development of zest for living thus depends on the expansion of various types of youth activities and on the reinforcement of coordination and cooperation among families, schools, and communities.
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