Japan fattens textbooks to reverse sliding rank

Malcolm Foster:

When Mio Honzawa starts fifth grade next April, her textbooks will be thicker.
Alarmed that its children are falling behind those in rivals such as South Korea and Hong Kong, Japan is adding about 1,200 pages to elementary school textbooks. The textbooks across all subjects for six years of elementary school now total about 4,900 pages, and will go up to nearly 6,100.
In a move that has divided educators and experts, Japan is going back to basics after a 10-year experiment in “pressure-free education,” which encouraged more application of knowledge and less rote memorization.
“I think it’s a good move. Compared to the education I got, I’m kind of shocked at the level my children are receiving,” said Keiko Honzawa, a Tokyo resident and mother of Mio and her seventh-grade brother.