New Staff for Education, IISIA: Maria Tanaka


Do you ever read “The Diary of a Young Girl”? Her book had a great impact on my life.

My name is Maria Tanaka, and I’ve been joined to the Corporate Planning Group since April 1st.

Let me introduce myself.

I heard about the Holocaust for the first time when I read “The Diary of a Young Girl” in junior high school. I was much into the history of Jews, and I read many books at the school library. I went to a public high school in my hometown. In my second year of high school, I went to study abroad in the Netherlands with the hope of someday visiting Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam. The Secret Annex where Anne Frank hid for more than 2 years during World WarⅡ and where she wrote her diary, still exists as a museum; it takes 20 minutes by walk from the central station.

I spent a year in the Netherlands with my thoughts on Anne Frank, but not everything went well. As a high school student, my English, which I thought I was good at was actually not good enough, and when I got to the Netherlands, I could only introduce myself in Dutch, which I had learned by heart.

In the Netherlands, I joined a local school as a foreign exchange student, but I couldn’t speak Dutch at all. During the break time called “pauze”, I wrote a diary in Japanese to escape from reality. However, thanks to my warm host family, I gradually expanded my vocabulary in Dutch. After returning to Japan, I was eager to learn more about the Netherlands, so I entered a Japanese university that had a partner university in the Netherlands.

One day, I came across the term “Montessori education” in a lecture given by a professor who specialized in the sociology of education at university. At that time, I was a part-time brain training coach at a cram school for kindergarten through fourth grade students in elementary school. I was of course interested in education itself, so I was attracted to the term “Montessori education” and looked up the details.

Then I found out that it described a liberation from the one-way teaching style from teachers to children which I always had felt ashamed in compulsory education in Japan. Of course, adults support children, but “Montessori education” guarantees a space where children can learn independently. I was sure that this would be a great method to support children’s lives. (I felt a certain synchronicity, when I heard that Anne Frank went to a Montessori school in the Netherlands.)

The Montessori method was established by Maria Montessori (1870-1952), the first Italian female doctor. The first Montessori school; “Casa dei Bambini” was established in Rome in 1907 and since then Montessori education is mainly provided for children from 0 to 18 years all over the world. Recently, Montessori education for the elderlies and the field of “Montessori sports” are also in the spotlights.

However, most Montessori education in Japan is provided for infants and toddlers in nursery schools and kindergartens. I majored in sociology and Dutch culture at university, so I had no chance to study about childcare. Soon after my exchange year in the Netherlands when I was in my third year of university, I studied hard for the nursery teacher exam by using textbooks and YouTube videos effectively, and I finally obtained my nursery teacher certification. After graduating from university, I was determined to get involved in Montessori education. I decided to attend an international Montessori teacher training center for getting early childhood (3-6) diploma, while working as a part-time teacher at a nursery school for children 0-6 years.

You may wonder why I joined IISIA. As a student, I participated in the “IISIA Summer School 2023” that IISIA conducted last year as part of its social contribution program. The group work I did with my peers and the experience of being showered by the knowledge of Mr. Harada, our CEO, provided me a very valuable opportunity to realize my apathy towards society. At the same time, I thought that nothing would make me happier than to contribute to society through “information literacy education” for young people who will become future leaders. As a new staff member, I will continue to engage in education with a passion to contribute to the realization of our vision “Pax Japonica”.

Thank you for reading.

Corporate Planning Group, Maria Tanaka