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International Review of Education

, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 443–468 | Cite as

Learning cities in East Asia: Japan, the Republic of Korea and China

  • SoongHee HanEmail author
  • Atsushi Makino
Article

Abstract

Lifelong learning cities emerged in Japan in the 1980s and 1990s; in the Republic of Korea in the 2000s and 2010s; and in China mostly from 2000 onwards. They were a countermeasure to the increasing challenges of global as well as post-industrial uncertainties at the turn of the century, when cities were trying to find governmental instruments to engage in cultural processes, community building and personal development as the new way of urban life. Learning was perceived to be a panacea to solve the social problems occurring in overwhelming processes of modernisation and industrialisation. The authors of this paper assert that the practice of and research on learning cities, especially in the East Asian region, need to go beyond the technical rationalities which are guiding government tools, and explain the realities to which they are meant to be applied. In order to do this, the authors investigated three separate but inter-connected scenes found in Japan, the Republic of Korea and China, revealing that the learning city is a phenomenon which reflects complex social dynamics and the interaction of many minds. While the cases in this region are distinctive, they do share some common characteristics. The authors place these within what they term a “community relations model”, which they contrast with the “individual competence model” which is usually found in initiatives of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and schemes implemented in the area of the European Union (EU).

Keywords

Learning city Learning community Community education Adult education in East Asia Kominkan Shequ education 

Résumé

Les villes apprenantes en Asie orientale : Japon, République de Corée et Chine – Des villes d’apprentissage tout au long de la vie sont apparues au Japon dans les années 1980 et 1990, en République de Corée entre 2000 et 2010, et en Chine essentiellement à partir de 2000. Elles constituaient une contre-mesure aux défis croissants posés au début du siècle par les incertitudes de la mondialisation et de la post-industrialisation. Les villes tentaient alors de trouver des solutions publiques pour s’engager dans des processus culturels, la construction d’une communauté et le développement personnel, traits d’un nouveau mode de vie urbain. L’apprentissage était perçu comme une panacée pouvant résoudre les problèmes sociaux résultant des phénomènes implacables de modernisation et d’industrialisation. Les auteurs de l’article avancent que la pratique et la recherche relatives aux villes apprenantes, notamment dans la région d’Asie orientale, doivent dépasser les rationalités techniques qui guident les instruments publics, et expliquent les réalités auxquelles ces derniers sont censés s’appliquer. Dans ce but, les auteurs ont étudié trois scènes distinctes mais interconnectées, sélectionnées au Japon, en République de Corée et en Chine; ils signalent que la ville apprenante est un phénomène reflétant une dynamique sociale complexe et l’interaction de nombreux points de vue. Si les différents cas de cette même région sont spécifiques, ils possèdent aussi des caractéristiques communes. Les auteurs classifient ces dernières selon ce qu’ils appellent un « modèle de relations communautaires » , qu’ils opposent au « modèle de compétences individuelles », ce dernier figurant couramment dans les initiatives de l’Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques (OCDE) et dans les schémas appliqués par l’Union Européenne (UE).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Seoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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