Celebrating the Founder of the Kumon Method
Today we commemorate the 100th anniversary of Toru Kumon’s birth, the parent and math teacher who founded the Kumon Program. Sixty years ago, Toru Kumon helped unlock the potential of his son, Takeshi, through a series of calculation-based worksheets that eventually became the foundation for the Kumon Method. As we embark on the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Toru Kumon, we encourage you to explore the life and legacy of the man who has played a critical role in enabling millions of students around the world to realize their full potential.
On March 26, 1914, Toru Kumon was born in Otsu Village in Nagaoke County (now Kochi City). Listening to his grandfather’s stories and tales about the hardships faced while trying to grow rice, Toru’s first aspirations centered on agriculture. Although Toru’s ambitions changed to education, that initial aspiration to nourish the world was fulfilled.
As a student, Toru Kumon, like many children his age, had a dislike of studying that gradually developed into a love of learning. While a student at Tosa Junior High, his math teacher, Mr. Ono, fostered a sense of independent learning by explaining the fundamental aspects of specific problems at the beginning of class. He then provided his students with exercises to work on by themselves to practice that knowledge. Toru’s experience with this type of learning demonstrated the success that independent learning could have on a student’s confidence and abilities. However, it wasn’t until Toru Kumon saw the effects of this method of learning in his own son did he truly understand how he could help unlock the potential of students.
In 1954, Toru Kumon developed a series of calculation exercises for his son, a second-grade student, to practice every day for thirty minutes. Toru Kumon would closely examine these worksheets, noting any errors and mistakes before creating new worksheets for the next day. He also inserted notes on the previous worksheets in order to highlight important areas where additional study was needed. Such vigilant efforts at accuracy in study continue to be reflected in current Kumon Worksheets today. Starting with addition and subtraction problems, Takeshi gradually improved his math skills, eventually solving differential and integral calculus by sixth grade. After achieving success through the Kumon Method with his own son, Toru Kumon then became interested in sharing this method with as many children as possible.
From there, the Kumon Program gradually expanded from helping one student to helping millions achieve academic success and maximize their potential.