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KEIO Opencourseware >> Essay from Alumni >> #1  

Alumni's Essay

Yoshiharu Fukuhara, Honorary Chairman of Shiseido Co., Ltd., Director of Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography

I began my studies at Keio long ago in the late 1940s.  The educational reforms being implemented at the time meant that the two-year preparatory course I began at the Hiyoshi campus concluded after just one year.  The following year, I began studying at the Mita campus under the new system.

Professor Koji Shirai was in charge of my class and taught us French grammar.  At the time, his Japanese translation of Sartre's "La Nausee" had just been published.  In his classes, he delighted us with literary anecdotes and quotes from La Rochefoucauld.  Over the years, Professor Shirai released six revised versions of his translation and his enthusiasm for Sartre and his masterpiece, "La Nausee", was infectious.  All of our French professors were like that; they taught us reading comprehension and French grammar, but they also created a truly French atmosphere through their stories and conversations with us.

After one year of study, Professor Shirai came to represent the epitome of French culture in my mind (I attended his lectures for another year after that).

I can still recall the time when he taught us the phrase "Il y a beaucoup de..." (There are many...) because he explained that the pronunciation of beaucoup was similar to the first two syllables of bokugo, the Japanese word for air-raid shelter.  I think that Professor Shirai was probably overqualified for his job teaching French as part of the general curriculum at the Faculty of Economics, like using a large knife to slice a small fish.  My experience of being immersed in French culture, however, has stayed with me longer than any technical aspects of the language.  This experience inspired me to get involved in a number of organizations and activities to promote the relationship between Japan and France.

The next Professor in charge of our class was the late Professor Kentaro Hattori.  I think he was an instructor at the time.  Professor Hattori, a son of the distinguished Hattori family, was a very sophisticated gentleman and he taught us about the principles of economics.  His way of speaking and his sophisticated behavior made a lasting impression on us.  Professor Hattori's lectures were both fast-paced and clear and although he was in charge of the class, he would only intervene when absolutely necessary.  I think that Professor Hattori believed that if he acted like a gentleman, the students would behave in the same way.  As a result, the students never thought of causing any trouble for their Professor.

I was taught by another memorable teacher, not at university but at the Keio Yochisha Elementary School.  Mr. Kogoro Yoshida was my homeroom teacher throughout my six years at elementary school and he also taught history at the Faculty of Letters.  Mr. Yoshida was as student of Professor Shigetomo Koda (brother of author Rohan Koda) and over six years, he introduced us to Professor Koda's approach to history and historical perspectives.  Our classes were supposed to be elementary school level but they were probably closer to university level.

Opencourseware (OCW) represents a remarkable development in the transfer of knowledge.  However, I have used the examples above to show that although OCW can effectively convey faculty members' knowledge and technical expertise, there is a risk that it may not be able to convey their personalities and passion for education.

Education is not just a matter of randomly sending out a fixed set of educational materials to an unspecified group of people.  As I mentioned before, Mr. Yoshida, my homeroom teacher in elementary school, was in charge of three classes over six years.  With an average class size of 40 students, this means that he only taught 120 students during that time.  I believe that true education is given to a specific number of people in specific locations and that it requires enormous amounts of time and effort from those that provide it.

OCW courses have only just begun and I will be interested to see if there is room for improvement in the future.  We are now in the era of Web 2.0 where unlimited numbers of people can interact with each other and create resources like Wikipedia.  A decade from now, we may see the advent of Web 3.0 which will emphasize sensitivity, creativity, and human development. (September 13, 2006)



Yoshiharu Fukuhara

Born: 1931, in Tokyo

Yoshiharu Fukuhara, grandson of Shiseido founder Arinobu Fukuhara, joined Shiseido immediately after receiving his B.A. in economics from Keio University, Tokyo, in 1953. Appointed President & CEO of Shiseido in 1987, then Chairman of the Board in 1997 and Honorary Chairman in 2001
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