Teaching Module

Educational Reform in Japan (19th c.)


  1. Maynes, Mary Jo. Schooling in Western Europe: A Social History. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985.
    This book offers a concise introduction to the history of modern school systems in Western Europe and uses a social history approach to explain the impact of those systems upon the experience of children and communities. Maynes' book helps to place the case of Meiji Japan in the context of slightly earlier efforts in Western Europe to establish compulsory, state-run school systems.
  2. McClain, James. Japan: A Modern History. New York: W.W. Norton, 2002.
    This is an excellent introduction to the history of modern Japan, with a few chapters that deal specifically with the Meiji Era and the transformative effects of the reforms undertaken by the new government.
  3. Platt, Brian. Burning and Building: Schooling and State Formation in Japan, 1750-1890. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2004.
    This book focuses specifically on Japan, looking at patterns of schooling in pre-modern Japan and the efforts by the Meiji state to build a centralized, compulsory school system based largely on Western models. Platt explores the experience of local communities as they negotiate with the Meiji state over the shape and control of the new schools.
  4. Stearns, Peter. Childhood in World History. New York: Routledge, 2006.
    This book provides a broad, synthetic treatment of the history of childhood. Its particular merit is that it offers a truly global perspective, providing a broader context for understanding Western Europe and Japan. It also deals with a longer sweep of history, dealing not only with the inception of modern school systems but also with earlier and more recent developments.

How to Cite This Source

Brian Platt, "Educational Reform in Japan (19th c.)," in Children and Youth in History, Item #125, https://cyh.rrchnm.org/items/show/125 (accessed August 10, 2021).