Toru Kumon (公文 公 Kumon Tōru , March 26, 1914 – July 25, 1995) was a Japanese mathematics educator, born in Kōchi Prefecture, Japan. He graduated from the College of Science at Osaka University with a degree in mathematics and taught high school mathematics in his home town of Osaka. In 1954, Kumon began to teach his oldest son, who was doing poorly in mathematics in primary school, and developed what later became known as the Kumon method.
This method involves repetition of key mathematics skills, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, until mastery is reached. Students then progress to studying the next mathematical topic. Kumon defined mastery as being able to get an excellent score on the material in the time given, which is intended to benefit students in all their studies. Kumon strongly emphasised the concepts of time and accuracy.
As a result of the method, other parents became interested in Kumon's ideas, and in 1956, the first Kumon Center was opened in Osaka, Japan. In 1958, Toru Kumon founded the Kumon Institute of Education, which set the standards for the Kumon Centers that began to open around the world. The Institute continues today to focus on individual study to help each student reach his or her full potential. The underlying belief behind the Kumon Method is that, given the right kind of materials and the right support, any child is capable of learning anything. At any time, there are more than 4 million Kumon students worldwide, and since 1956, more than 19 million students have enrolled in Kumon Centers worldwide. Toru Kumon died in Osaka on July 25, 1995 at the age of 81, from pneumonia.