Japanese students have been scoring lower on standardized tests than their counterparts from South Korea and Hong Kong. In response to this, Japan is lengthening the textbooks that students will use to study. One of the textbooks that will see the biggest increase in the number of pages is science textbooks. While the average length of a Japanese textbook is 4,900 pages, the average number of pages is expected to go to about 6,100 pages. Science and math textbooks are expected to see 60 percent more pages than textbooks in English, history and other subject areas.
A similar debate took place in the United States, but parents and educators in Japan seem to be divided on the issue. One parent says that she thinks it is a good idea to lengthen the number of pages in the textbooks her kids use as school. She says she is appalled at the level of education they are receiving. On the other hand, a professor of education at a university in Tokyo, Koji Kato says that adding pages to a textbook and pushing students to memorize more information is not going to resolve the issue.
In addition to longer textbooks, Japanese students will also spend more time at school. Japan plans to add one or two more hours to each school week. How much time is added will depend on the grade level of the students. For now, the focus is on the fifth and sixth grade levels, but middle school and high school students may experience similar changes to textbooks and school hours in the near future.
All of these changes is also in response to a slinking Japanese economy, which is one similar to most of the countries in the nation. It remains to be seen as to whether or not teaching more science information to students and make their days a little longer results in higher test scores and a better economy.