The reform movement centered around efforts to explicate and disseminate the doctrine of kaihatsushugi (developmental education). Hailed as a modern, scientific approach to child education, it rejected rote memorization and passive learning, elements of the so-called method of "pouring in" (chunyu) knowledge practiced during the preceding Tokugawa period, and sought instead to cultivate the unique, innate abilities of each child. Orthodox ideas of "education," "knowledge," and the process by which children learn were challenged. The position and responsibilities of the teacher were enhanced, consequently providing educators with a claim to professional authority and autonomy - at a time when the Meiji state was attempting to control every facet of the Japanese school system.
Principle, Praxis, and the Politics of Educational Reform in Meiji Japan analyzes a key element to understanding Meiji development and modern Japan as a whole.