At a Soka Gakkai Educational Counseling Center [© Seikyo Shimbun]

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, the first two presidents of the Soka Gakkai, were both teachers. The organization they founded was originally called the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (lit., “Value-Creating Education Society”) and was comprised of educators who were united in their commitment to help bring happiness to children through education. Inheriting their spirit, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda has described education as his final undertaking.

In 1961, President Ikeda created the Soka Gakkai Educators Division (later, Educators Department) to bring together individuals working in the teaching profession and help them contribute to creating a world of genuine happiness and peace for children.

Since then, the group has striven to develop original responses to the many challenges posed by a rapidly changing educational environment, with the guiding principle that “In every age, the greatest factor in a child’s educational environment is always the teacher.”

Application of Humanistic Values

An Educators Department seminar [© Seikyo Shimbun]

One young elementary schoolteacher, for example, describes how her effort to support a struggling student who was suffering from discrimination led to a change in the dynamic of the whole classroom: “I wanted to make my classroom one in which each person could recognize their own strengths, as well as those of their friends. For this reason, I determined to create a classroom environment in which everyone could feel at ease. I strive daily to become a person who can help draw forth each student’s unlimited potential.”

Members of the group hold a variety of meetings, including lectures by experienced educators, conferences for young educators and seminars for parents and schoolchildren. Through such interactions, teachers are able to share information and ideas, broaden their perspectives and hone their approach as humanistic educators.

related article Knowledge of Buddhism Lecture Series Begins in France Knowledge of Buddhism Lecture Series Begins in France On March 5, the Soka Cultural Association in France (ACSF) held the first lecture in a three-year series titled "Knowledge of Buddhism." The lecture was held at the Soka center in Paris and attended by some 140 people. Guest speaker Dominique Trotignon, director of the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Paris and president of the Theravada Buddhist Association Vivekārāma, focused on Buddhism in its Indian context. In President Ikeda’s 1984 Education Proposal, he writes, “Through concrete trials and efforts, I would like you to develop a youthful perspective and focus on growth and development, creating an approach to education that is in keeping with the times.” The Educators Department has to date compiled over 65,000 teachers’ experiences of applying humanistic values in the classroom.

One of the group’s most impactful initiatives has been the creation of counseling centers. President Ikeda proposed these in 1968, at a time when the very idea of counseling was still quite unfamiliar in Japan. Thirty-five such centers have now been set up around Japan, staffed by some 700 volunteers trained in educational and psychological counseling. The centers offer free counseling to students, parents and teachers, and have been visited by some 380,000 people since their establishment.

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