The Knowledge Deficit: Closing the Shocking Education Gap for American Children

Overview

The Knowledge Deficit illuminates the real issue in education today—without an effective curriculum, American students are losing the global education race. In this persuasive book, the esteemed education critic, activist, and best-selling author E.D. Hirsch, Jr., shows that although schools are teaching the mechanics of reading, they fail to convey the knowledge needed for the more complex and essential skill of reading comprehension. Hirsch corrects popular misconceptions about hot issues in education, such as ...

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The Knowledge Deficit: Closing the Shocking Education Gap for American Children

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Overview

The Knowledge Deficit illuminates the real issue in education today—without an effective curriculum, American students are losing the global education race. In this persuasive book, the esteemed education critic, activist, and best-selling author E.D. Hirsch, Jr., shows that although schools are teaching the mechanics of reading, they fail to convey the knowledge needed for the more complex and essential skill of reading comprehension. Hirsch corrects popular misconceptions about hot issues in education, such as standardized testing, and takes to task educators' claims that they are powerless to overcome class differences. Ultimately, this essential book gives parents and teachers specific tools for enhancing children's abilities to fully understand what they read.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
With books such as Cultural Literacy and the Core Knowledge Series, educator E. D. Hirsch Jr. changed the American debate on learning. In The Knowledge Deficit, he argues that our students trail those of other industrialized nations because they are taught how to read, but not how to think. He insists that funding, testing, and teaching the mechanics of readings don't build comprehension; curriculum does. He tackles all the hot-button issues, including standardized testing, No Child Left Behind, regional and class differences, and school funding.
From the Publisher
"An important message, eloquently expressed."—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works

"If we did what E.D. Hirsch said, and made sure that all students, regardless of race, income, or neighborhood, were exposed to a rich, challenging, sequenced curriculum in important subjects, schools could make a much bigger difference than they already do."—Ed McElroy, president, American Federation of Teachers

"[Hirsch] wants to reverse the current emphasis on reading as a mechanical process and replace it with content-rich curriculum that will turn all children into knowledgeable readers. It's a worthy goal for our schools in an increasingly competitive globalized world." New York Post

"On many fronts, Hirsch's book challenges the conventional educational wisdown. Parents ought to check it out."—Rocky Mountain News

"[A] powerful argument . . . [Hirsch's] well-reasoned, common-sense proposals address a vital issue, and his book provides a valuable addition to the debate on public policy in education."—Richmond Times-Dispatch

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) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation, Hirsch(Cultural Literacy) offers another treatise on the need for core knowledge in U.S. education. While the reading scores of younger students in the United States stack up well against those of students in other countries, the scores show a troubling slump around fourth grade and continue to lag behind throughout the secondary grades. Hirsch believes the cause is a lack of general knowledge, which leads to a lack of comprehension. Rather than teaching reading as a skill or strategy independent of content areas, he feels schools should be teaching children general cultural knowledge and encouraging reading within the content areas. He provides solutions for teachers to enable students to gain this knowledge by reading widely in the classics and forgoing reading drills, thereby helping, he hopes, to close the gap between American and other children as well as the gaps between various income and racial groups in this country. This concise, well-written, and insightful book belongs in the collection of every academic and public library supporting teacher education and serving parents of children in all types of schooling situations. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/05.]-Mark Bay, Univ. of the Cumberlands Lib., Williamsburg, KY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618872251
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 190,907
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Table of Contents


Preface     xi
Why Do We Have A Knowledge Deficit?     1
The Achievement Crisis     1
The Curse of Romantic Ideas     3
Should Schooling Be Natural?     7
What About "Mere Facts"?     8
Is Knowing How Better than Knowing What?     11
Is Society to Blame?     14
Making Better Ideas Prevail     16
Sounding Out: Just the Beginning of Reading     23
What We've Recently Achieved     23
Is Reading Like Listening?     26
Filling in the Blanks     35
Are Some Kinds of Knowledge Better than Others?     39
Reading Strategies: A Path to Boredom     45
Knowledge of Language     51
Learning the Standard Language     51
Learning Grammar     54
Learning the Elaborated Code     56
Building Vocabulary     58
Can Disadvantaged Children Catch Up?     66
Knowledge of Things     68
What the Text Doesn't Say     68
Who Is the General Reader?     70
How Much Knowledge Do We Need?     73
Which Knowledge Do We Need?     74
Why Not in the Reading Program?     77
UsingSchool Time Productively     80
Wasting Students' Time     80
Blaming Teachers     83
Better Use of Time Leads to Greater Fairness     85
Using Time Effectively     88
Using Tests Productively     91
Are Tests Driving Our Schools?     91
The Flaws of State Tests     93
The Nature of Reading Tests     96
What Kinds of Tests Will Enhance Education?     102
Achieving Commonality and Fairness     107
Reading and a Wider Crisis     107
Fulfilling Our Nation's Highest Ideals     108
Constantly Changing Schools-A Critical Issue     109
Localism and a Perfect Storm of Bad Educational Ideas     112
Are There Decisive Advantages in Specifying Definite Content?     115
Thinking the Unthinkable: A Core of Common Content in Early Grades     119
The Critical Importance of an Adequate Theory of Reading     127
Notes     139
Acknowledgments     159
Index     161
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