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(5)The Development of Private Schools

Another type of school which existed independently from the fief schools and the terakoya was the private school (shijuku). These were generally set up in the residence of the instructor for the purpose of instruction in academic subjects and artistic accomplishments. The origin of the private schools goes back to the "secret schools" of ancient and medieval times where a particularly close relationship existed between the teacher and the student and the object of instruction consisted in the transmission of confidential material relating to particular sects. However as the years went by, these private schools assumed a more open character and reached a stage of development from which conditions for modern education could be derived. By the end of the Edo period, various types of private institutions had developed specializing in such subjects as Chinese studies, calligraphy, use of the abacus, National Learning (Kokugaku), Western learning and the like. Other private schools offered courses made up of a combination of these.

As the central government encouraged academic studies centered around the Chinese classics, especially Confucianism, numerous Confucian scholars founded schools for Chinese studies known as kangakujuku, and these flourished throughout the Edo period. Although the kangakujuku declined after the Meiji Restoration, the Confucian premises upon which their educational content was based continued as a strong tradition influencing the concepts and material of modern Japanese education.

Private schools for National Learning, known as kokugakujuku, also prospered, and toward the end of the Shogunate they became closely connected with the "Restore the Emperor" ideology. There were many schools where both National and Chinese studies were taught. With the introduction of Western civilization to Japan in the middle of the nineteenth century, other types of private schools were organized for Western learning known as yogakujuku.

The private schools in operation during the later years of the Shogunate did not come under the control of the Shogunal or fief authorities, but rather operated as independent entities. The private schools differed from both the fief schools and the terakoya in that they made little, if any, allowances for students of different social status; common educational facilities were provided by the private schools for both the samurai and the commoners. They were the forerunners of the modern private schools.

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