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Hirsch shows why American students perform less well than students in other industrialized countries. Drawing on classroom observation, the history of ideas, and current scientific understanding of the patterns of intellectual growth, he builds the case that our schools have indeed made progress in teaching the mechanics of reading, but do not convey the more complex and essential content needed for reading comprehension. Hirsch reasons that literacy depends less on formal reading 'skills' and more on exposure to rich knowledge. His argument gives parents specific tools for enhancing their child's ability to read with comprehension; shows how No-Child-Left-Behind tests and SATs are measuring a kind of knowledge that is not being taught in our schools; and maps out how American schools can become a strong antidote to poverty and to the race-based achievement gap, and thus fulfill our democratic ideal for our children.--From publisher description.Provides an analysis of the state of modern American education to trace a link between a lack of reading comprehension and poor performance and furnishes specific tools for parents to enhance a child's ability to read with comprehension.
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E.D. Hirsch, Jr. is the Linden Kent Memorial Professor of English at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and the author of Cultural Literacy, The First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, and The Core Knowledge Series. Dr. Hirsch is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been a senior fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is president of the Core Knowledge Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to educational reform.From Publishers Weekly:
The notion of learning how to learn is a shibboleth in America's schools, but it distorts reading instruction, contends this provocative manifesto. Education theorist Hirsch decries a dominant "Romantic" pedagogy that disparages factual knowledge and emphasizes reading comprehension "strategies"—summarizing, identifying themes, drawing inferences—that children can deploy on any text. Such formal skills, he argues, are easily acquired; what kids really need is a broad background knowledge of history, science and culture to help them assimilate new vocabulary and understand more advanced readings. "Process-oriented" methods that apply reading comprehension drills to "vapid" texts waste time and slow kids' progress, Hirsch contends, and should be replaced with a more traditional, "knowledge-oriented" academic approach with a rich factual content. Hirsch repeats the call for a standard curriculum based on a canon of general knowledge (he touts his own core knowledge sequence as a model) made in his bestselling Cultural Literacy. That work drew fire from multiculturalists who accused Hirsch of promoting dead-white-male worship, but here he grounds his case in the latest cognitive-science research (with a healthy dose of common sense). Fluently written and accessible to teachers and parents alike, the book presents a challenge to reigning educational orthodoxies. (Apr. 24)
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