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As a fourth year doctoral candidate, in addition to having completed comprehensive examinations and prospectus and working on the dissertation, my thoughts are also turning towards the job market and securing that first academic position. This purpose of this blog is to chronicle the trials and tribulations of completing my Ph.D. and finding that first job.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What does your first grader need to know?

Sticking with my social science education theme, a few weeks ago the Blogging Baby had a post on Cultural literacy: who decides what we need to know? The basis of this entry was to discuss the “What Every First Grader Needs to Know?” books by E. D. Hirsch, Jr.

It is interesting that the authors of this entry list Hirsch goals as including:

  • “In an anthropological perspective (the name which Hirsch chooses for the Cultural Literacy point of view), the basic goal of education is acculturation, the transmission to our children of the specific information shared by the adults of the group or polis.”
  • “... literate culture has become the common currency for social and economic exchange in our democracy, and is the only available ticket to full citizenship…. Membership is automatic if one learns the background information and the linguistic conventions that are needed to read, write, and speak effectively.”
  • “Cultural literacy constitutes the only sure avenue of opportunity for disadvantaged children.”
  • “The achievement of high universal literacy is the key to all other fundamental improvements in American education.”
  • “Mature literacy alone enables the tower to be built, the business to be well managed, and the airplane to fly without crashing

The problem with this slanted view of the world is the number of people who actually buy into it. Take a look at the listing for this particular Hirsch book at Amazon.com (see http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0385319878/qid=1120609467/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-7436103-6026511?v=glance&s=books ). In particular, look at the customer reviews. Poor, misguided fools...

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