- Hardcover: 169 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company; First Printing edition (24 April 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0618657312
- ISBN-13: 978-0618657315
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 21 cm
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 769,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Knowledge Deficit: Closing the Shocking Education Gap for American Children Hardcover – 24 Apr 2006
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In fact, the only critical variable in comprehension is what you know about the subject already. When we try to explain something, we have to vary our presentation to take into account what our audience already knows. All communication is based upon shared understandings, without which we would have to go on forever explaining what we mean. Our comprehension is subject-specific. A biology professor who can't understand a motorcycle magazine does not have a problem with reading comprehension skills--he, or she, merely knows nothing about motorcycles.
Prof Hirsch demonstrates that efforts to teach formal 'reading comprehension skills' are seriously counter-productive, in that they displace the teaching of knowledge which would enable children to improve their understanding. As a result, children from less advantaged homes fall ever further behind their more advantaged peers. On the other hand, in schools that make a serious effort to teach knowledge (derided as 'mere information' by ignorant educators), minority children are able to close much of the gap that separates them from middle-class whites and Asians.
'The Knowledge Deficit' is essential reading for anyone who wonders why the United States--a country where impoverished immigrants of previous generations could thrive--now has such intractable problems assimilating minorities. Nothing could be plainer than the contrast between the Mexicans who settled in my old hometown of Saginaw after working in our factories during the war, and the more recent wave of Hispanic immigrants. The former had no special help, and their kids went to old-fashioned schools that had never even heard of 'reading comprehension skills'. If you go to Saginaw now, you find that Mexican-Americans are one of us. You will see Spanish surnames on the signboards of professional offices, and they are no more remarkable than Italian or Polish surnames.
Prof Hirsch's book is essential reading for anyone who is concerned about the growing social divisions in the US. He makes the convincing case that without a shared body of culture and knowledge, we will never achieve the fusion of cultures which has made America great.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Forget about political correctness. What is the greater value of an education? Education is much more than just preparing someone to get a job. It is about becoming a well rounded person.
Today's emphasis on multiculturalism is reaction to years of indoctrination in a system that devalues the individual. The failure of public education is: compromising knowledge for the sake of political correctness. This is the "knowledge deficit."
The concept of core knowledge sets standards that are vital to a well balanced education. Commonality of knowledge bonds individuals from diverse backgrounds. Instead of having multiple cultures vying for attention, Core Knowledge enables individuals from different backgrounds to learn the universal language of knowledge. Having a common understanding brings people together; not "celebrating their differences." After experiencing the mutual benefit of "Core Knowledge" individuals can better appreciate other cultures and nurture their natural curiosity about the world around them. This is truly the foundation for mutual respect among people and lifelong learning.