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ERIC Number: ED465657
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2002-Feb
Pages: 18
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
A Long View of the Literary Debate: E. D. Hirsch Jr. and His Forebears.
Reynolds, Richard J.
An immediate best seller when it was published in 1987, E. D. Hirsch, Jr.'s "Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs To Know" galvanized legions on both sides of the sociopolitical aisle that divides education. The book has become a revered text regularly referenced by those scholars who take up a position that may be loosely referred to as "on the educational right." For Hirsch, literacy means understanding what is read, and to understand what is read a person needs to have the appropriate background knowledge, or core knowledge. This paper discusses Hirsch's contention and how he outlines his case in a series of syllogistic statements in "Cultural Literacy." The paper notes that the link among culture, language, education, and individual and societal well-being appeared earlier in the work of the historian Arnold Toynbee. In the 17th century, the Czechoslovakia theologian and pioneer pedagogue John Amos Comenius struggled with the aim of universal education, proposing the concept of a central core of knowledge to which further knowledge is added sequentially. It considers what several critics of the core knowledge concept have to say about Hirsch's ideas--critics such as Peter McLaren, Edward DeBono, and Ivan Illich. The paper concludes that the chasm that exists between Hirsch and his critics is that, while Hirsch speaks to a method, his critics speak to a goal and that perhaps an argument can be fashioned for a concept of cultural literacy that pays greater attention to specific contexts. (Contains 15 references.) (BT)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A