The 52nd Meeting for Teachers Who Nurture the Mind, hosted by Tenrikyo Teachers Association in collaboration with Tenri University Corporation, Tenri City, and the Tenri City Board of Education, was held in the Home of the Parent on August 7 and 8 under the theme “Connections.” Drawing 450 teachers, former teachers, and others concerned with education from all over the country, the meeting comprised working sessions, small group discussions, and some lectures including one given by Mr. Norimasa Hirai, who serves as Japan’s head swimming coach. The participants enthusiastically exchanged opinions on how to nurture the mind of students on the basis of the teachings.
The meeting started off with opening remarks made by Mission Department Head Motoyoshi Tomimatsu, who emphasized: “Among a lot of other problems facing modern society, the disintegration of the family is often pointed out as being particularly serious. It is our task as Yoboku to devote ourselves to helping rebuild the family in our society.” He then encouraged the participants, saying, “I would like you to keep sight of the mind of saving others each day and actively address this issue through your involvement with education in order to contribute toward the realization of the Joyous Life World.”
Honbu-in Zensuke Nakata, vice head of the Mission Department, then took the podium to give a special lecture entitled “Energy for Growing.” He said, “In Tenrikyo, ‘nurturing others’ refers to working sincerely to provide guidance and care for others.” He then pointed out that, in order to nurture others, it was essential for nurturers themselves to cultivate and nurture the mind of saving others, on top of being blessed with God the Parent’s workings. He went on to say, “This path is to be followed while pondering over how to become a person who can save others.” He told the participants that it was important to settle in their minds the day of origin of their faith and seek the path to deepen their faith on a daily basis.
After the lecture, eight working sessions including “Improving Your Skills in Organizing the Content of Your Class,” “Making Use of the Computer,” and “Learning How to Speak as a Teacher” were organized for participants to choose from based on their own interests. A session on “Swimming” provided the participants with some examples of educational methods used at Tenri Elementary School. This year marks the 59th year since the completion of Tenri Pool, which was built based on the intention of the second Shinbashira, Shozen Nakayama―who made a tremendous contribution to Japanese swimming in the post-war period―and which at that time was known as one of the biggest swimming pools in the nation. The session introduced the way Tenri Elementary School conducts swimming education based on the tradition of Tenri swimming―the spirit of which comes from the second Shinbashira’s intention. The session included describing some of the concrete teaching methods applied to Tenri Elementary School’s Swimming Class, which, now in its 55th year, is held only during the summer recess. The participants also observed a practice session of the swimming club of this school.
On day two, small group discussions were organized around the themes “Seeking the Path” and “Education.” Groups discussing “Education” shared opinions on such issues as bullying, school refusal, social withdrawal, juvenile delinquency, slashing wrists, and child abuse. Child abuse, in particular, often goes unnoticed because it happens at home, although child counseling centers reported more than 40,000 inquiries regarding child abuse during the fiscal year 2007. Taking that into consideration, the participants talked about how to deal with the issue and the necessity to enhance collaboration with specialized agencies. They also shared some common concerns about interpersonal relationships among colleagues at school.
After presentations were made by representatives from working sessions on the previous day, Mr. Hirai gave a lecture entitled “Insights into Human Character.” He began by speaking about how he trained two Japanese Olympic medalists, Kosuke Kitajima, who earned gold medals in the men’s 100 and 200 meters breaststroke at both the Athens and Beijing Olympics, and Reiko Nakamura, who won bronze medals in the women’s 200 meter backstroke in Athens and Beijing as well. While explaining his basic coaching principles, he emphasized that he put as much focus on nurturing athletes’ character as on improving their skills. He stated that development of character played an essential role in bringing one’s talent into full bloom.
When he was talking about the 2009 World Aquatics Championships held in Rome from July 17 to August 2, he touched on the tragic news that Mr. Hironoshin Furuhashi, who had served as chairperson emeritus of the Japan Swimming Federation and also had enjoyed the friendship of the second Shinbashira, had passed away in Rome during the championships. Expressing his condolences, he reminisced about Mr. Furuhashi, who used to say such things as “Top athletes have to set examples as people of good character, too.” He concluded his lecture by saying, “I believe it is one of my important tasks as a coach to nurture athletes to become persons who can make positive contributions to society.”
“The number of young participants in this meeting has been increasing every year, and I was able to see them earnestly engage in exchanging opinions on various problems related to education,” says Tenri University Professor Masahiko Okada, chairperson of the steering committee. “I feel confident that this gathering has been of some help to the participants in nurturing their faith and―in accordance with the theme―in connecting their minds with God the Parent and Oyasama as well as strengthening their ties with other teachers and educators of the path.”