Why Do We Have a Knowledge Deficit?
The idea that reading skill is largely a set of general-purpose maneuvers that can be applied to any and all texts is one of the main barriers to our children’s overall low achievement in reading, argues Policy Perspectives author E. D. Hirsch, Jr.
It leads to activities that are deadening for agile and eager minds, and it carries huge opportunity costs. These activities take up time that could be devoted to gaining general core knowledge, which, according to Hirsch, is the central requisite for high reading skill. Writes Hirsch:
“We need to help create a public demand for the kind of knowledge-oriented reading program that is needed. If that demand arises, then the rest can safely be left to the cunning of the market, for most of us in the United States desire the same democratic goal—to give all children an opportunity to succeed that depends mainly on their own talents and character and not on who their parents happen to be. We also need to encourage an early curriculum that is oriented to knowledge rather than the will-o’-the-wisps of general, formal skills.”
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