How to Educate a Citizen: The Power of Shared Knowledge to Unify a Nation

E.D. Hirsch Jr. Harper, $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-300192-3
Hirsch (The Making of Americans), founder of the education nonprofit Core Knowledge Foundation, delivers an impassioned yet myopic call for U.S. elementary schools to adopt a “shared-knowledge curriculum” as a means of improving student performance and healing hyperpartisanship. A “common stock of knowledge” based on “key concepts, historical figures, and events” and shared ideals such as “liberty, equality, and kindness” is the foundation for a competent and unified citizenry, according to Hirsch. He contends that the child-centered approach of contemporary educational theory, with its emphasis on “standards devoid of specific content” and general skills like critical thinking, has driven down America’s reading and math scores and led to the current divisive political climate. He cites data from the Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy in Virginia and charter schools in the Bronx as evidence that a “shared-knowledge approach” raises test scores, narrows the achievement gap, and helps educators to achieve the “double goal of quality and equality.” Though he insists that “diversity is not inconsistent with national unity,” and presents some intriguing evidence to back his claims about student performance, Hirsch’s unwillingness to fully grapple with the question of whose knowledge best defines American history and culture weakens his argument. This well-intentioned treatise falls short. Agent: Marly Rusoff, Marly Rusoff & Assoc. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/29/2020
Release date: 09/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-06-300194-7
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