The Knowledge Deficit

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E. D. Hirsch, Jr., author of the best-selling Cultural Literacy and our most insightful thinker on what schools teach, offers an urgent solution to the shocking national decline in children's reading ability.

How can it be, Hirsch asks, that American students score so low among developed nations in international comparisons—and that they perform worse the longer they stay in school?

Drawing on arresting classroom scenes, the history of ideas, ...

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Overview

E. D. Hirsch, Jr., author of the best-selling Cultural Literacy and our most insightful thinker on what schools teach, offers an urgent solution to the shocking national decline in children's reading ability.

How can it be, Hirsch asks, that American students score so low among developed nations in international comparisons—and that they perform worse the longer they stay in school?

Drawing on arresting classroom scenes, the history of ideas, and current understanding of the patterns of intellectual growth, Hirsch builds the powerful case that, while our schools excel at teaching the mechanics of reading, they fail virtually all American children—poor and middle class, in public and private schools—because of their inability to convey the more complex and essential skills of reading comprehension. Hirsch brilliantly reasons that literacy depends less on the formalistic reading "skills" taught in virtually every school across America and more on exposure to content-rich, appealing books.

His argument is compelling, for it - gives parents specific tools for enhancing their child's ability to read with comprehension; - shows how No Child Left Behind and SATs measure reading comprehension—a knowledge-based skill not successfully taught in our schools; - tackles the weaknesses of specific state-by-state curricula - explains in detail how American schools can serve as the strongest possible antidote to poverty and to our frustrating race-based achievement gap

A road map for all thinking parents, teachers, and citizens, The Knowledge Deficit shows exactly how we can convert all American schools into places where the skill of reading comprehension is effectively imparted—and why this goal is ever more essential to the democratic ideal.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618657315
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/24/2006
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2006

    The 'One, Two, Punch'

    E. D. Hirsch makes a remarkably plausible proposal about how we should teach our children to read. A premise of his 'plan' is that children should be equipped with the tools of phonics to enable them to ascertain the sounds of words. This book introduces, if you will, the next step in the process of reading instruction. His basic thesis is that children should understand words from their previous oral 'communications' before reading them in books. When children encounter unfamiliar words in their readings there are difficulties in determining their meanings whether it be from contextual inferences or from dictionary work. Thus his proposal is, in major part, to expose young children to many ideas, things, and activities so they can learn the words that apply to them. Then as they see these words in their readings (applying their phonetical abilities to link them to the words they already know) they will find reading more informative and enjoyable. He shows that current attempts to increase classroom time spent in reading reduces the time spent by the children learning other things. It is the learning of other things that builds their vocabularies- generally from the oral communications from the teacher. When these other learning activities are curtailed the child's vocabulary development is correspondingly retarded. I call this a 'one, two, punch' because this strategy for reading development depends on the two avenues of phonics and oral vocabulary development. And how does the title relate to all this? Well, 'Knowledge Deficit' simply suggests that children should be taught more facts which, of course, entails more words. With more knowledge they will have more vocabulary, which is the prerequisite for becoming accomplished readers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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