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ERIC Number: ED329440
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1988
Pages: 18
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Cultural Literacy and American History Textbooks.
Smith, Allen
Results on content-oriented national assessment tests have demonstrated that many secondary school students in the United States are culturally illiterate. E. D. Hirsch has compiled a list of 4,500 terms, dates, phrases, and sayings that he argues represents the broad knowledge base that culturally literate U.S. citizens should possess. Twelve historical sayings, speeches, and addresses containing cherished values and beliefs that transcend the time in which they were uttered or written, and which scholars consider worthy of student attention were chosen from that list. Fourteen junior high and senior high school social studies textbooks were examined to determine to what extent these speeches and sayings were depicted, whether they were merely mentioned or given sufficient contextual material to provide a better understanding of their importance, and whether there was a substantive difference in the coverage between junior high and senior high school texts. Analysis of data demonstrated that there was not much agreement between Hirsch's condensed list and textbook authors as to what information comprised a culturally literate person's vocabulary. Only 58 percent of the sayings and speeches were depicted by texts in both groups, with only half being covered by the junior high texts. There also was great variation within each group as to which items were covered. Many texts failed to provide information that would further the understanding of the speeches and sayings and their original contexts. Questions were raised concerning how educators could attain the goal of a culturally literate citizenry. Two tables of statistical data and a 7-item bibliography are included. (JB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A