New psychology curriculum arises from a dispute during pre-WWII Japan

SATO, Tatsuya (Dept. of Social Psychology, Fukushima University, 960-1296, Japan)

I examined and discussed the background, progress, and conclusion of a dispute about revising the1939 high school psychology curriculum in Japan. Psychologists appointed to a committee by the Ministry of Education proposed to revise this curriculum, which was then systematized according to the principles of Gestalt psychology. These principles were used because psychologists who had felt the future of psychology reached an impasse found Gestault psychology as an egress from such an impasse, as well as auxiliary for further developments in psychology. Additionally, emphasizing Gestalt theory on totality seemed in accordance with the policies of an imperialistic nation aimed at totalitarianism before WWII. However, many psychology professors deprecated the proposal, and as a result of this dispute, the proposal was discarded. Subsequently, a new, revised proposal was drafted and implemented.

Key words: history of psychology, Japan, Gestalt psychology, psychology curriculum.