A collective cry resounds from coast to coast: “We’ve got to fix our broken education system!” Yet what do we do? Young Americans are caught between schools’ requirements to maintain certain levels of testing and garner a valuable, useful education that can manufacture valuable, able-minded citizens.

E. D. Hirsch is a pioneer in the field of cultural literacy. Being literate on one’s culture is as important as being literate in letters — and the two are indeed married. When one’s ability to read and write at an appropriate level is below certain levels, of course their understanding of their environment and culture is retarded as well.

This is a heartbreaking conversation of critical importance to us all. Hirsch is still at it, now heading the Core Knowledge Foundation. For anyone who has ever cared about what their child is learning and why, this is an episode not to be missed.

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  1. sawatdeeka Member

    I have great respect for  E.D. Hirsch.  I need to listen to this.

    I got my start with him here and here.

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  2. T-Fiks Member

    Some colleagues and I read Cultural Literacy as part of a teachers’ workshop shortly after its publication and found it to be a good prescription for what ailed public education even then. What was fascinating to me was that many of the political liberals and educational progressives among my colleagues also found in it much with which to agree–that is until they learned that it challenged the educational orthodoxy of the day.

    What I find compelling even now about Hirsch’s argument is that it suggests a way to mitigate the disadvantages that confront children from disadvantaged homes. Much of the resentment towards Common Core among educators is that it’s seen by many of the public and the educational establishment as a rejection of the whole notion that a barren home environment puts kids at a terrible disadvantage.

    Content coherence, unlike the mishmash of skills promoted in Common Core, would provide students with the type of background knowledge that is, as Hirsch argues, essential for engagement in history and literature classes.

    Although retired, I still substitute teach in my old building. It’s horribly discouraging for me now to experience the level of cultural illiteracy the reigns in every classroom. It’s impossible to even have  the discussions I had five years ago. I can’t imagine the boredom for those sitting at their desks. Poor things.

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  3. Paul-FB Inactive

    An yet another eye opener from you, Milt.

    Thank you kindly for your effort to bring some common sense about our destroyed educational systems.  I think most of us old-timers agree that changes in the right direction are needed if the U.S. is survive in the future.  I do hope it is not too late.

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