ERIC Number: ED319639
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989-Jan
Cultural Literacy and Testing. Content Assessment Project. Final Deliverable.
House, Ernest R.; And Others
A formidable national educational reform movement has developed, aimed at improving the cultural literacy of U.S. students. Ideas about the illiteracy of American students and the urgency of restoring the nation's cultural knowledge, if carried forward, have strong implications for the school curriculum at both the elementary and secondary levels and for the content of standardized achievement tests at all levels. This paper explores the core idea of cultural literacy as expounded by major proponents of the movement. Some of the conclusions reached are: (1) Teaching more cultural content in the schools is an attractive idea. (2) Cultural literacy is not an intellectual ability akin to reading literacy. (3) Formal education, culture, and literacy do play critical roles in modern industrial society but perhaps not in the way formulated by E. D. Hirsch, Jr., in his best selling book, "Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know" (1987). (4) In spite of his protestations otherwise, Hirsch's position is politically conservative in several different ways. (5) The list of what every U.S. citizen must know (for example, Hirsch's list) is politically conservative in what it includes and excludes. (6) The view of culture presented is one in which an individual passively receives culture rather than actively creates it. (7) The view of what is wrong with the poor and powerless of society is that they are culturally deficient, according to Hirsch. (8) More culture content should be taught in the schools and it should be taught to all students. (9) Multiple choice, factual recall tests are not the best way to assess humanities content. (10) Even though cultural literacy cannot possibly accomplish all the things claimed for it, the U.S. should continue to strive for more cultural literacy in the curriculum. The document includes an 80-item bibliography. (JB)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, Los Angeles, CA.