[News and Stories by Geiko’s student] 28th Design Fundamentals Seminar “Re-Designing Education: Opening the Landscape with Children to Society”

On October 3rd, we invited Mrs. Sakiho Sakai, a photographer and a nursery school principal to give a talk on “Re-Designing Education: Opening the Landscape with Children to Society” at the Design Library. Through Mrs. Sakai’s experiences as a photographer, she became interested in education and welfare. She captures images of diverse children and emphasizes the importance of design in the context of welfare rather than limiting it to affluent areas.

Mrs. Sakai has also authored a photographic documentary book titled “I’ve been there before.” She has gone to a small village in Himi City, Toyama, once a year for 10 years to take pictures of children there. The images reflect the transformation of the children over time. A boy initially felt embarrassed about having his photo taken, but he has grown beyond puberty and wanted to be photographed. In his coming-of-age ceremony, she could take a photo of his smiling.

In addition to her work, Mrs. Sakai has also traveled to Afghanistan, where she distributed disposable cameras to Afghan children. In exchange for taking photos and sharing them with her, she provided them with shoes. The resulting photographs captured a range of experiences, from children holding guns to studying in dimly lit spaces to capturing the beauty of fields filled with flowers.

Mrs. Sakai’s approach to education in her nursery school is notably unique. She views the city as an integral part of the learning environment, and this perspective is reflected in the nursery school’s logo and building design, both of which incorporate elements reminiscent of a cityscape. Children at her nursery school often explore the city and engage in interactions with its residents. They might, for example, ring doorbells and ask if they can pick fruit from residents’ gardens. Her educational philosophy emphasizes hands-on learning and encourages children to participate in creating things, fostering spontaneity and creativity actively.

Furthermore, Mrs. Sakai believes in the importance of adults actively listening to children’s opinions, including their emotional expressions such as crying. This mutual respect for each other’s viewpoints contributes to a nurturing and inclusive educational environment.

The talk event with Mrs. Sakiho Sakai and her unique approach to education prompts a reevaluation of Japanese education and suggests that by exploring and documenting different educational experiences, one can gain valuable insights into the possibilities for redesigning education in Japan.

About the writer

Kana Kusumi
I am a master’s first-year student in the Acoustic Design Course at the Graduate School of Design. I am learning English and Danish to study abroad in Denmark after graduation. Since becoming a Geiko student supporter, I enjoy interacting with various international students. If you have any problems with the language, please let me know! I can help to translate or be your interpreter!