(3)Girls' Education

Edo society was founded upon the lord-retainer relationship of the samurai class and this same relationship extended to the organization within individual families: the relation between parents and children; between husbands and wives; between masters and servants - all functioned in a similar fashion. For this reason girls' education, whether for samurai or commoners, was predicated on a concept of human relations quite distinct from that for boys. In those days it was not considered necessary for girls to receive the high level of education made available to boys. As befitted their station in life, girls were trained in household matters and etiquette at their homes. Occasionally they were sent to other homes as maid, with the hope that the experience away from home would improve their homemaking and etiquette. The necessity for systematized intellectual schooling was simply not recognized. A small number of girls from the samurai families studied classical literature and arts in addition to calligraphy and reading, but in general education for girls in the feudal society was oriented toward the making of better wives and mothers.

A number of textbooks directed toward moral education for girls appeared during the Edo period. Usually the word "woman" (onna) appeared in the titles of these books, as for example in the Great Learning for Women (Onna Daigaku), the Confucian Analects for Women (Onna Rongo) and the Book of Filial Piety for Women (Jokun Kokyo). This practice of distinguishing special textsbooks for women persisted till after the Meiji Restoration.

In the closing years of the Shogunate, the number of girls attending terakoya gradually increased and a certain number of private institutions devoted to the instruction of girls were established. In both these institutions, a special curriculum was offered heavily slanted toward the niceties of womanly virtue, etiquette and the like: the tea ceremony, flower arranging and other polite accomplishments were included. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that even during the Edo period, there was some training for girls outside of their homes.

The traditional concept that girls differed from boys and that there was little need to educate them influenced the development of modern education: In the early years of the modern system the ratio of girls to boys in elementary schools was low even though both sexes were, according to the Education System Order, required to attend.


(C)COPYRIGHT Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology

((C)COPYRIGHT Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology)

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