This paper explores the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science andTechnology (MEXT) approach to curriculum policy in early childhood education. TheKindergarten Curriculum Guideline contains few directives or practical suggestions forteachers. The abstractness and indirectness of the MEXT approach to establishing curricularguidelines stands in stark contrast to the much more explicit and directive curriculumguidelines for early childhood education found in China, the US, many other countries. In thispaper I suggest that the Japanese hands-off approach reflects a combination of structuralfeatures of Japanese early childhood education and implicit cultural beliefs and practices.
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