News and Events
8 February 2018
Continually pursuing potential: Kumon celebrates its 60th anniversary
Kumon celebrates its 60th Anniversary this year, and remains committed to helping each and every child discover their potential for years to come.
Officially founded in 1958, the Kumon Institute of Education was created out of Toru Kumon’s love for his son, Takeshi Kumon. Four years earlier, when Takeshi failed a Year 2 maths test, Toru – who was then a high school maths teacher – made loose-leaf, handwritten, A5 mathematics worksheets to help his son to gradually build his mathematics skills.
Toru had Takeshi complete these worksheets every day and hand them back for marking. Every day, Takeshi would then have to correct his mistakes on the previous worksheet, as well as complete the new worksheet which Toru assigned him.
These were the precursors of today’s Kumon worksheets. By studying them Takeshi advanced from relearning addition in Year 2, to proficiently learning differential and integral calculus in Year 6.
“Thanks to this learning method, I didn’t have to study maths at home at all when I was a junior and senior high school student. It was enough for me if I just listened to lessons in schools,” Takeshi once said about his experience as the first Kumon student.
“Another result of my Kumon study was the realisation that I could master unknown content that I had not been taught.”
The original Kumon worksheets completed by Takeshi Kumon.
This success led Toru Kumon to realise he had developed a learning method that helps students tap into their own potential. He wanted to expand this method as he believed that while each and every child has great potential, they need to be taught how to harness it.
“What we aim for is not just to improve students’ school grades by simply developing their abilities in maths, English or Japanese … but for students to attain the mindset required for self-learning and to acquire enough self-learning experience so that it becomes a habit,” Toru Kumon wrote in Yamabiko, in 1990.
“We must allow children to experience the joy of self-learning and advancing on their own. We hope they will then continue learning by themselves even after going out into the real world, and grow up into people who are proactive in everything they do.”
Toru (left) and Takeshi Kumon (right).
And Kumon students go on to do just that; they are a group of conscientious people who have confidence in themselves and who go on to achieve.
One of these students is Marita Cheng, who completed the Kumon Maths Programme in 2006. Since then she has gone on to start-up and lead aubot, her own robotics company; cofound Aipoly, a smartphone technology developer which helps the visually impaired; and was awarded 2012 Young Australian of the Year for founding and leading Robogals, a women in technology advocacy group.
“I was already at the top of my class for maths but by doing Kumon I came to have more confidence,” Marita said in Kumon Australia and New Zealand’s Potential magazine, in 2016. “Beyond maths, Kumon taught me that there are some things in life with no easy path success.”
“Doing Kumon taught me to sit down, do the work consistently and keep striving toward my goals and I think that’s one of the best lessons anyone can learn.”
Toru Kumon died in 1995 and Takeshi died in 1997. However, their legacy lives on. Today, there are 4.3 million Kumon students enrolled in more than 24,700 Kumon Centres across 50 countries around the world. In Australia and New Zealand, as of September 2017 there were 53,686 students enrolled throughout 330 centres.
Furthermore, in today’s digital age where computers and tablets are commonplace in classrooms, Kumon’s pencil and paper approach to learning remains highly relevant . Thousands of parents choose to make Kumon study part of their children’s education.
Kumon is the world’s largest tutoring franchise, and through its method of learning it aims to discover the potential of each child and develop their abilities to the maximum. By doing this Kumon fosters sound, capable people and thus contributes to the global community.
Read the experiences of those students Kumon has helped nurture.
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