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ERIC Number: ED498008
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jul
Pages: 192
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 10
Beyond the Basics: Achieving a Liberal Education for All Children
Finn, Chester E., Jr, Ed.; Ravitch, Diane, Ed.
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Citing Aristotle, Franklin and Einstein as proponents of a broad, liberal-arts education, Finn and Ravitch promote the need for liberal learning as preparatory to the civic life needed for a well-functioning democracy. Drawing together the work of a number of educators, the editors have organized this volume in two sections. Part I, Liberal Learning: Its Value and Future, includes three papers that advocate both for liberal learning, and for a common curriculum. Part II, Restoring Liberal Art to the K-12 Curriculum, features eleven explorations of how to expand liberal learning by improving accountability systems, teacher training and education delivery. Maintaining that their support of liberal learning is well-documented, the editors conclude the volume by noting four opposing trends: (1) Gradual extinction of liberal learning in higher education; (2) Standards-and-Accountability movement focused on basics skills; (3) Support for math and science and the expense of the rest of the curriculum; and (4) Widening achievement gaps. Finn and Ravitch envision a future in which liberal education is so restricted as to create a less informed and less engaged populace, to the detriment of a democratic society, Recommendations to reverse this trend are appended under four headings: (1) Standards, Assessments, and Curriculum; (2) Teacher Education, Professional Development and Compensation; (3) Choice and Innovation; and (4) Public Engagement. This book begins with an Introduction: "Why Liberal Learning," by Chester E. Finn, Jr., and Diane Ravitch. It then divides into two parts and fourteen chapters. Part I: Liberal Learning: Its Value and Future, contains: (1) Pleasure, Beauty, and Wonder: The Role of the Arts in Liberal Education (Dana Gioia); (2) What Do They Know of Reading Who Only Reading Know?: Bringing Liberal Arts into the Wasteland of the "Literacy Block" (E.D. Hirsch, Jr.); and (3) W(h)ither Liberal Education?: A Modest Defense of Humanistic Schooling in theTwenty-first Century (David J. Ferrero). Part II: Restoring Liberal Arts to the K-12 Curriculum, contains: (4) Testing, Learning, and Teaching: The Effects of Test-based Accountability on Student Achievement and Instructional Time in Core Academic Subjects (Martin West); (5) Is A Default Curriculum in High School A Good Strategy For Promoting the Humanities? (Matthew Gandal, Michael Cohen, and John Kraman); (6) Time in School: Opportunity to Learn (Kate Walsh); (7) The Case for Broadening Veteran Teachers' Education in the Liberal Arts and What We Could Do About It (Sandra Stotsky); (8) Do We Need Strong Liberal Arts Curricular Materials?(Joan Baratz-Snowden); (9) Preparing Teachers to Teach the Liberal Arts (David Steiner); (10) Expanding Access to Liberal Education in Public Schools: The Promise and Perils of Charter Schools and In-District Choice (David J. Ferrero); (11) Virtual Education and the Liberal Arts (John Holdren and Bror Saxberg); (12) Instructional Time and Curricular Emphases: U.S. State Policies in Comparative Perspective (Aaron Benavot); (13) Comfortable With Big Ideas (John Backus); and (14) Excellence for Its Own Sake (Matthew Bogdanos). (Contains 18 tables and 3 figures.)
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation & Institute. 1701 K Street NW Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20006. Tel: 202-223-5452; Fax: 202-223-9226; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Collected Works - General; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, Washington, DC.