One father’s love for his son gave birth to the Kumon Method of Learning.
It all began in 1954 when a young boy’s mother found a maths test in his pocket. That boy’s name was Takeshi Kumon, and he was in his second year of elementary school. Seeing that his test results were not as good as they usually were, his mother consulted her husband about what to do. Her husband was Toru Kumon, a high school maths teacher. To address his wife’s concern, Toru Kumon began making maths worksheets for his son.
Toru Kumon believed that the work of an educator is to foster a mindset for self-learning in children. So he went through much trial and error when creating learning materials so Takeshi would be able to work comfortably with the materials each day and steadily develop his skills. Based on his experience as a teacher, Toru Kumon knew that many senior high school students had problems with their maths studies because of insufficient calculation skills. Therefore, he focused on developing these skills with Takeshi, and created materials that made it possible for his son to learn independently. This was because, through his own educational experiences, Toru Kumon knew that students could only gain genuine academic ability by making progress on their own.
Toru Kumon wrote out calculation problems on loose-leaf paper for Takeshi, and the materials that he created in 1955 became the prototype for today’s Kumon worksheets. Takeshi quickly developed his ability through studying the materials created by his father for half an hour every day. As a result, he was able to study differential and integral calculus when he was just a few months into the sixth grade (Year 8).
Following his success with Takeshi, Toru Kumon invited some children from the neighbourhood to come and study at his home, he took the same approach with them as had with Takeshi. As a result, all of them greatly improved their academic ability. Seeing this, Toru Kumon wished to develop the potential of as many children as possible with his learning method; in 1958, he decided to establish an office in Osaka and open more maths centres. From that year on the number of Kumon students increased steadily. With reaching high school level material through self-learning as the goal, Toru Kumon’s aim was to develop the ability of students to the maximum by enabling them to study at a level appropriate for each individual.
Toru Kumon (1914-1995)
Toru Kumon was born in Kochi Prefecture, Japan. After graduating from Osaka Imperial University (Faculty of Science, Department of Maths) he became a schoolteacher. During his 33-year career, he taught maths at his alma mater Tosa Junior/Senior High School, and later at Sakuranomiya High School in Osaka City, as well as at other schools. In 1958, he established the Osaka Institute of Mathematics, which in 1983, became the Kumon Institute of Education Co., Ltd. He devoted the rest of his life to improving the Kumon Method and making it available to more and more people around the world.
Kumon Toru Research Institute of Education
The Kumon Toru Research Institute of Education started out as a department of the Kumon Institute of Education in 1995 and was incorporated as a subsidiary in 2000. Its goal is to communicate and further develop the educational philosophy of Toru Kumon. Its mission is to ensure the correct implementation of the worksheets and instructional techniques in each of the countries around the world offering the Kumon Method. While carrying out surveys and researching educational information, it plays a central role in communicating the value of the Kumon Method within the Kumon Group.
Toru Kumon Museum
Built in 1982, Toru Kumon’s former residence was converted into the Toru Kumon Museum in 1998. Through examining the original handmade worksheets that Toru Kumon made for his son Takeshi and viewing the various other exhibits on display, visitors to the museum can learn about the essence of the Kumon Method and contemplate what constitutes ideal education.