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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 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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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 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.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan Bazzett-Griffith

    Having spent many years in the classroom as a very successful Language Arts teacher despite not having a degree in education, but one in English Literature, I agree with this author's thesis that reading cannot be taught in a vacuum, so much so that I want to hand out copies of the book to every teacher at my son's elementary school. Hirsch's book explains why it is, that despite tons of monies and decades of educational "research", that American students literacy and reading scores, no matter s Having spent many years in the classroom as a very successful Language Arts teacher despite not having a degree in education, but one in English Literature, I agree with this author's thesis that reading cannot be taught in a vacuum, so much so that I want to hand out copies of the book to every teacher at my son's elementary school. Hirsch's book explains why it is, that despite tons of monies and decades of educational "research", that American students literacy and reading scores, no matter socioeconomic background, go DOWN as they get older when compared to children of other nations. He explains that so very much time is used teaching the basics of reading, the phonics, and most importantly the "strategies" of reading comprehension, that our children are left with a huge knowledge gap about the world they live in. That gap of general knowledge makes reading comprehension a struggle for kids who don't have a well-rounded background of knowledge that they've learned on their own from home, as all subjects other than reading and math are put on the back burner in early elementary school these days. Amen, Mr. Hirsch, A-effing-Men. Reading comprehension strategies make me want to pull my hair out. Kids comprehend well when they have appropriate background knowledge of a topic and so they GET what they're reading about, not because we drill them on their abilities to predict and infer all day, every day. Having worked (and hated having worked) in a public school for only one year, I found that private schools are much more willing to embrace a different take on how to teach English/Language Arts, as long as the students are progressing adequately. Guess what? They progress better when teachers actually teach about the subject matter and vocabulary of the books (yes, BOOKS, not "passages", not "sample texts" written precisely for purposes of testing and/or not offending anyone, nor requiring any thought) as the class reads the books. They progress more when they learn from an integrated curriculum, and can understand the context and background of the material they're reading. They learn better when you can make reading interesting, fun, relevant, and when they are actually picking up new KNOWLEDGE about the world beyond their own lives. You can't expect a child to understand Number the Stars in fourth grade when they've never learned about World War II, know nothing about Europe, history, the Holocaust, etc. By not expecting children in kindergarten, first, second, and third grade to learn, even if they can't write about or read about at a high level, any real knowledge in social studies, science, music, art, physical education, etc, we are doing a grave disservice to our kids, who are capable of learning a TON of information between the ages of 5-9, before handing them a book and wondering why they don't "get it" automatically since they are perfectly able to decode the words. Education NEEDS to be based on not just measurable skills of reading and math, but on KNOWLEDGE as a whole. My favorite quote: "It is true that many American teachers are ill-informed about the subjects they teach, and it is also true that this reduces their productivity in the classroom. But this is not because of their inherent laziness or native incompetence. It is because they are subjected to antifact, how-to ideas during their training. American education schools consider it their job mainly to provide teachers with naturalistic and formalist ideologies." Word, Mr. Hirsch. I took two education courses in college-- they were both huge wastes of time where I learned a lot of pedagogical terminology that had exactly zero impact on anyone being able to be a successful teacher. So, yes, four stars, not five, because the book is dry, and if you aren't interested in education, particularly reading/literacy education, you'd hate it. That said, if you're a teacher or want to be a teacher? You should read this book-- it is important and it is RIGHT.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kamal

    This book was plagued by Henny-Penny-ism. Despite all the multiple proclamations that the sky is falling, I remain unconvinced. Hirsch is quick to dismiss any theories about poverty, racism and class being strong determinants of a child's performance in traditional school systems. However, one doesn't hear of an illiteracy epidemic in private schools. In the end, Hirsch's blind-spot for social injustice only belies his advocacy of middle-class norms as the be-all and end-all of any educational p This book was plagued by Henny-Penny-ism. Despite all the multiple proclamations that the sky is falling, I remain unconvinced. Hirsch is quick to dismiss any theories about poverty, racism and class being strong determinants of a child's performance in traditional school systems. However, one doesn't hear of an illiteracy epidemic in private schools. In the end, Hirsch's blind-spot for social injustice only belies his advocacy of middle-class norms as the be-all and end-all of any educational project. The last time I checked, democracy didn't mean all citizens adopting middle-class mores, which seems to be an underlying assumption of this book. This book candy-coats a very ugly sentiment: "Damn them for being so poor and stupid!" Hirsch then has the audacity to claim that his ideal reforms will help fix social injustices. This, in my opinion, is dubious. I had high expectations for this book, and it did not deliver.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Hava

    I just finished reading The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them last week, and then started The Knowledge Deficit right after that. I think that reading the two, one right after the other, is part of why I am only giving this book four stars. Much of what he said in The Schools We Need was repeated in Knowledge Deficit. When I say repeated, I mean word-for-word repeated - there were two whole pages that were a cut and paste without even a word different between the two books. That got to I just finished reading The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them last week, and then started The Knowledge Deficit right after that. I think that reading the two, one right after the other, is part of why I am only giving this book four stars. Much of what he said in The Schools We Need was repeated in Knowledge Deficit. When I say repeated, I mean word-for-word repeated - there were two whole pages that were a cut and paste without even a word different between the two books. That got to be a bit old after a while. However, there were portions that were completely new; you cannot just read one and then think you've read them both. He does cover some different ideas in the two books, so if you're really interested in learning more about his ideas on education, you will want to read both books. I think that the Core Knowledge style of school is by far the most logical set-up that I've seen, and when I start my own charter school, I absolutely intend on it being a Core Knowledge school. So I had no ideological disputes with the book - just a complaint that at times, it got to be quite boring if you had already read The Schools We Need. At least don't read them one right after another...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ng

    This was more of an essay than a book. Two main arguments. 1. Modern American education is paralysingly dominated by one ideology with roots in the Romantic movement - that learning should be natural (a la Emile). There's also what he calls the formalist ideology, that children should learn skills, not facts. I already knew from teaching GP that the latter was nonsense, but I hadn't realised how much I took the naturalist ideology for granted. 2. Reading proficiency requires not only decoding ski This was more of an essay than a book. Two main arguments. 1. Modern American education is paralysingly dominated by one ideology with roots in the Romantic movement - that learning should be natural (a la Emile). There's also what he calls the formalist ideology, that children should learn skills, not facts. I already knew from teaching GP that the latter was nonsense, but I hadn't realised how much I took the naturalist ideology for granted. 2. Reading proficiency requires not only decoding skills (phonics) but also background knowledge. You need to understand about 90% of the words in order to guess the other 10%. My father was getting at this long ago when he said everyone should know the Greek myths and the Bible, but I hadn't thought about it. Very convincing and easy to read, but having seen the summaries of some of his other books, I can see why some reviews thought this one was redundant. Am off to read them now.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erik Akre

    What an interesting book! I must honor E.D. Hirsch for his passionate and convincing argument. I must say that I'm both with him and against him. His point is that when American children learn, they don't really learn facts about the world, or at least not very many. He says that there are certain things that people must simply know, in order to be functioning members of society, both nationally and globally. He argues that without knowledge of these facts, students in our education system will f What an interesting book! I must honor E.D. Hirsch for his passionate and convincing argument. I must say that I'm both with him and against him. His point is that when American children learn, they don't really learn facts about the world, or at least not very many. He says that there are certain things that people must simply know, in order to be functioning members of society, both nationally and globally. He argues that without knowledge of these facts, students in our education system will fail to be truly successful in the world, and the United States will fail to be a strong competitive country on the globe. Cultural literacy is the term for this knowledge set. At the same time, he argues that these facts are fairly proscribed. There are definite things that everyone should know, and these things are determined (by someone?). In other words, everyone needs to know these things in order to be a fully valid human being. And so everyone should be taught these facts in school, regardless of interest level or developmental abilities. (Really developmental needs are not a high priority for Hirsch.) Everyone should be culturally literate in the same way, which leads to an obvious question... Who decides what the content of this standard curriculum is? It scares me to think of some distant committee making these decisions, based on their own biases of course, for an entire standardized nation of children (and by extension, adults). It sounds a little like fascism to me. Yet there are things that we might know to experience the world more fully. Perhaps it's just that first we need to be motivated to know anything at all, and then learn what we learn as we experience the world meaningfully thereby.

  6. 4 out of 5

    William Schram

    The Knowledge Deficit by E. D. Hirsch Jr. has an interesting title and tagline. If you feel that American Children need to buckle down and learn more things then this book might be for you. While it seems as though the book will focus on schools in general, it seems as though it mainly concentrates on reading comprehension. This book does not merely decry the problems inherent in our public school system, it also discusses ways to correct these issues. The problem might be that there are far too The Knowledge Deficit by E. D. Hirsch Jr. has an interesting title and tagline. If you feel that American Children need to buckle down and learn more things then this book might be for you. While it seems as though the book will focus on schools in general, it seems as though it mainly concentrates on reading comprehension. This book does not merely decry the problems inherent in our public school system, it also discusses ways to correct these issues. The problem might be that there are far too many solutions and not one unifying idea. I mean this in general, not in reference to the book itself. The book is quite short, checking in at under 200 pages. It uses a crisp and lucid style to convey its ideas. It explores some alternatives and discusses the idea of “Natural” Learning, which was somewhat surprising when I read it. I suppose if you think that language is a gift from the heavens rather than an invention of man then you could make such a mistake, but I don’t know. Other than that, the book was pretty good.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    An important book Hirsch here goes into so much about what is wrong in American education. But perhaps more importantly his ideas give insight into our current political climate and the increasingly divisive culture wars in our country.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    Reading is not just a skill; it depends on core knowledge. Definitely a revolutionary text since most policies focus on teaching reading skills believing knowledge develops naturally. This country could stand a bit of commonality among states’ curricula.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Olechowski

    A book with incredibly relevant, useful and reassuring studies...thank you!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Audrey Smith

    Intriguing. His ideas make a lot of sense, but I wish he had addressed second language education.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chase Parsley

    This is an extremely important book that all educators should read. It makes the case that American students are knowledge-poor, knowledge in our schools is under attack (in the guise of "skills"), and that background knowledge turns out to be extremely important in life. Reading, writing, and listening are all cognitively related, and they require the individual to have an extensive foundation of basic knowledge. This is why a hearty, well-rounded education of literature, social studies, scienc This is an extremely important book that all educators should read. It makes the case that American students are knowledge-poor, knowledge in our schools is under attack (in the guise of "skills"), and that background knowledge turns out to be extremely important in life. Reading, writing, and listening are all cognitively related, and they require the individual to have an extensive foundation of basic knowledge. This is why a hearty, well-rounded education of literature, social studies, science, and the arts is extremely important. Too often these subjects are dismissed in favor of "skill building" activities. As a history teacher, I agree. More and more, the knowledge of social studies is downplayed, and the emphasis on skills and English skills is high. More controversially, Hirsch argues that the romantic notion of allowing teachers and students to choose what they should learn is harmful. This isn't meant to be totalitarian, but the idea is that all students need a common foundation of knowledge to read, write, talk, and listen effectively in society. Very interesting and highly recommended.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    Although there is some repetition from previous books, as other reviewers have pointed out, sometimes repetition is necessary to get the point across. I believe he did this purposely. His argument remains the same across his books- that the American school system needs to establish some common curriculum content and sequencing in order to allow students to gradually acquire knowledge. That said, the main points of the book are different than his others. In this book, Hirsch explains how our curr Although there is some repetition from previous books, as other reviewers have pointed out, sometimes repetition is necessary to get the point across. I believe he did this purposely. His argument remains the same across his books- that the American school system needs to establish some common curriculum content and sequencing in order to allow students to gradually acquire knowledge. That said, the main points of the book are different than his others. In this book, Hirsch explains how our current education system rides on the beliefs of Romanticism, that learning naturally unfolds. If this were true, then there would be no need for formal education, nor explicit instruction. It is true that some learning happens through implicit instruction. Hirsch explains how vocabulary develops through exposure to rich content and communication. When considering how reading develops, he positions himself in a moderate position, recognizing the need for phonics instruction and grammar while still considering situated meaning and rich material. For Hirsch, one thing that can be removed from school instruction is the endless string of skill-based strategies, because he believes reading isn't about a skill, but rather it is about comprehension. We need to focus on developing background knowledge for that which is presumed to be self-evident. He also points out how testing is necessary, but that the standards don't match what is tested. How can they, when they are so generalized and vague? He points out that teachers are left in an uncomfortable predicament, "The tests are coming! We don't know what topics the children will be asked to read about. The tests will probe reading comprehension skills, so we must teach those skills!" (94). When nobody is sure what content will be on the examinations, and the examinations determine funding, there is no other reasonable approach to reading instruction than to view it as skills based. He points out that if standards were clear and tied to the tests, then schools would be able to fulfill the requirements for meeting AYP. Beyond the accountability issue, there is also the issue of a common culture. In order to trust each other, we need to share some things in common. He argues for somewhere between 40 to 60 percent. This would allow more than enough room for diversity and local tradition. But, he does question the concept of local tradition. Local districts don't have specific standards listed either. They want local control, then leave it to the teacher to decide what to teach. For Hirsch, this is a problem. As a high school teacher who has had 96% success on standardized tests, I am still critical of these tests. I don't mind standards, but I do wish they were more specific. I find myself playing a guessing game about what the state really wants. I'm not sure, so I try to find a combination of texts that I believe will build a diverse background. Combining selections from the textbook and things that I bring to the table, I do the best I can. But, my students are capable of so much more. They are hungry for information, and get excited when they see connections to their world or to other subjects. They like to be challenged, as long as the task is within their reach. There are many things wrong with our school system. One of them is that we do need a more coherent curriculum. Social Studies and English should work hand in hand to build background knowledge based on classical literature, history, and American values. The problem is the "nuts and bolts" question. What are we going to teach? Who will decide? In Cultural Literacy, Hirsch provided his list of suggestions. Harold Bloom also has a list of suggestions. Looking at both those lists, I agree with some choices, but not others. I would like to see a convention put together with the purpose of determining the list. Let a combination of people be represented. Make sure to include teachers in addition to professors, business leaders and politicians. Include leaders of minority and majority interest groups. Get the discussion started.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Selim Tlili

    A few years ago I was in a professional development course and I was given this beauty of drivel from the Assistant Principal: "The time of teachers being the 'sage on stage' is over. We need teachers to be the 'guide on the side' with the understanding that if we give students the proper ingredients they will be able to bake their own wonderful 'knowledge bread'" While I wouldn't have said anything out loud about that pile of nonsense I do wish I had read this book back then. ED Hirsch managed t A few years ago I was in a professional development course and I was given this beauty of drivel from the Assistant Principal: "The time of teachers being the 'sage on stage' is over. We need teachers to be the 'guide on the side' with the understanding that if we give students the proper ingredients they will be able to bake their own wonderful 'knowledge bread'" While I wouldn't have said anything out loud about that pile of nonsense I do wish I had read this book back then. ED Hirsch managed to articulate so many of my criticisms about educational policy and how we teach children in public schools. Our collective educational policy has seemingly decided that developing content related knowledge and the teaching of "mere facts" is anathema to true teaching. I have always thought this is short sighted thinking; knowledge should grow and the greater amounts of knowledge you accumulate and retain the greater expertise you can develop. Hirsch argues, convincingly in my opinion, for the development of some "common knowledge criterion" that students should attain throughout each grade. Given student mobility and the gap between educational opportunities between children of the rich and poor, a good case can be made for requiring certain specific content to be presented to student at specific grades. This content should essentially be our shared cultural knowledge that one is expected to know, but not explicitly stated, if one reads current events. I would rate this 3.5 stars if I could. My main criticism with this book is that Hirsch belabor his point excessively. I understood his essential Point about how teaching reading content strategies instead of teaching interesting and engaging literature is a mistake but Hirsch needed four of his six chapters to express this relatively simple point. I think it would have been more valuable if Hirsch had expanded upon his idea of what he believes should be within this "common knowledge core" of education. Hirsch also gives short shrift to issues of poverty and inadequate funding. I agree that throwing money at a school won't solve any problems but it strikes me as ludicrous for someone to say that a kid who goes to an an ancient urban public school taught mostly by brand new teachers should somehow get the same educational outcomes as kids who go to a suburban high school with brand new facilities, a golf team and well paid teachers, many whom have achieved terminal degrees. The idea that money doesn't matter much in the educational gap just doesn't sit right. Overall this book will be of minimal interest to anyone who isn't in education. I definitely wish more administrators, superintendents and educational policy makers took the ideas articulated by Hirsch very seriously.

  14. 4 out of 5

    John King

    My son is in fourth grade. This analysis really hit home. The only thing I dispute is at 45% of public school children change their residences it every year. That seems too high, but maybe it's not too high in some places. My son is in fourth grade. This analysis really hit home. The only thing I dispute is at 45% of public school children change their residences it every year. That seems too high, but maybe it's not too high in some places.

  15. 5 out of 5

    James Carter

    I am a big fan of E.D. Hirsch, Jr.'s books, and I have read many of them. He makes a lot of good points in The Knowledge Deficit and backs them up with evidence. There are few that I didn't know before or didn't think about, so E.D. makes me aware of them. However, there are still lingering questions such as: 1. What can you do with the students who come from another country like Mexico, El Salvador, etc., especially at a late period? I mean, they have no background knowledge about the culture of t I am a big fan of E.D. Hirsch, Jr.'s books, and I have read many of them. He makes a lot of good points in The Knowledge Deficit and backs them up with evidence. There are few that I didn't know before or didn't think about, so E.D. makes me aware of them. However, there are still lingering questions such as: 1. What can you do with the students who come from another country like Mexico, El Salvador, etc., especially at a late period? I mean, they have no background knowledge about the culture of the United States of America. 2. What do you propose as solutions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing students with no functional hearing? Think about that since many of them have to rely on sign language, speechreading, and printed language to make up for their deficits in language development. 3. What about the kids with multiple disabilities? How can you overcome their cognitive impairments? 4. What are you going to do if education is not the number one priority of the child's family's culture? 5. What are you going to do if the parents aren't involved in their child's education because they are too busy working at least 40 to 80 hours a week since the U.S. economy depends on it and they have to make ends meet? 6. What can the teachers do if the school culture precludes them from using evidence-based teaching practices consistently on a daily basis? Few examples of this happening are: too many field trips, lax enforcement of disciplinary policies regarding absenteeism and behavior, and athletics. All in all, The Knowledge Deficit is a good read and can be individually implemented by someone who prefers homeschool over other forms of education or wants to be consciously aware of how to best educate their children in the proper way, covering the gaps in academic achievement for competitive purposes.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Donny

    I had some difficulty determining the method by which to rate this particular book, as three stars seemed too mild and four stars too dramatic for the personal reaction it elicited. Before beginning the first chapter, I ventured to its Goodreads page and spent a few moments perusing reviewers' comments on the contents. One review described the presentation of his theory to be too pompous, masking what he had to say with the big words employed to say it, and I did not find this to be the case; ne I had some difficulty determining the method by which to rate this particular book, as three stars seemed too mild and four stars too dramatic for the personal reaction it elicited. Before beginning the first chapter, I ventured to its Goodreads page and spent a few moments perusing reviewers' comments on the contents. One review described the presentation of his theory to be too pompous, masking what he had to say with the big words employed to say it, and I did not find this to be the case; neither did I find anything to logically justify the harsh censureship of another review, which accused him of turning a deliberately blind eye to the effect social injustice has on educational accomplishment and levelling derision at the "poor and stupid" lower class. Not having had any prior exposure to this author's philosophy or books, the repetition was helpful; however, he does indeed repeat himself, coming at various statements from slightly different angles. His writing style is clear, his reasoning cogent, and his theory — that contemporary American education is facilitating illiteracy by a misplaced educational methodology — fascinating. I read with notebook open and pen in hand, jotting passages into it for later reference, and, barring a more technical chapter which I did not process quite so easily as the rest of the book, for reason of sheer indifference to the technicalities of the topic being covered therein (the details of standardized testing), found much that I was grateful to have encountered. In consideration of its usefulness and the impact it has had on my perception of education, both contemporary and historical, I have given it four stars, realizing that another, more advanced, reader might find it to be less beneficial.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brian Ayres

    As an educator and someone who has spent 22 of the last 26 years in some form of public education, I was always reluctant to submit to a national curriculum, believing in "local control" of schools. But after reading E.D. Hirsch's latest critique of our knowledge gap in public schools, consider me a convert. Hirsch makes the case for core knowledge in the early grades to establish an even base for an ever-mobile student population to have stability in their schooling. Basing his ideas on modern c As an educator and someone who has spent 22 of the last 26 years in some form of public education, I was always reluctant to submit to a national curriculum, believing in "local control" of schools. But after reading E.D. Hirsch's latest critique of our knowledge gap in public schools, consider me a convert. Hirsch makes the case for core knowledge in the early grades to establish an even base for an ever-mobile student population to have stability in their schooling. Basing his ideas on modern cognitive psychology, Hirsch explains matter-of-factly how a focus on strategies, particularly reading comprehension, cannot come without content knowledge. Students cannot comprehend what they do not understand. Hirsch uses a great example to illustrate his point. Take this sentence: "Jones sacrificed and knocked in a run." A literate person can comprehend all the words in this sentence, but without knowing the context of baseball, one would not be able to understand the complete picture and "get it." Hirsch provides the sound argument for what most of us see and experience. Education cannot be process-based but knowledge-based. How else do we expect students to excel in the "knowledge" economy?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gayle

    E. D. Hirsch, Jr., author of the best-selling Cultural Literacy and founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation, takes a steely look at the failure of the American education system to teach a generation of children to read at a proficient level. His culprits are not the beleaguered teachers or the underfunded schools, but the educational philosophy that separates reading comprehension from content. He insists that in order to read with understanding, one must have a basic understanding of the body E. D. Hirsch, Jr., author of the best-selling Cultural Literacy and founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation, takes a steely look at the failure of the American education system to teach a generation of children to read at a proficient level. His culprits are not the beleaguered teachers or the underfunded schools, but the educational philosophy that separates reading comprehension from content. He insists that in order to read with understanding, one must have a basic understanding of the body of knowledge upon which our society is based. That just about covers it; it's a small book, and Hirsch eruditely restates his position from different podia in each chapter, each time taking another incremental step towards his final position: that the Core Knowledge Foundation has figured out what the knowledge is that children need to know at each stage, and that information is available to schools, teachers, even parents. I can't disagree with his position, and I won't delve into the minutiae. If you're serious about literacy for children whose lives you influence, you may find this interesting.

  19. 4 out of 5

    travelgirlut

    This book was hard work, so much so that I just couldn't bring myself to keep going. The author is trying too hard to make himself sound authoritative and intelligent and in the end it just comes off sounding pompous and preachy. I want to see the facts and be told how I can fix things, not have to wade through all your big words to get there. On the other hand, I don't disagree with his premise. There is good info to be had here if you want to wade through to find it. I think Why Don't Students This book was hard work, so much so that I just couldn't bring myself to keep going. The author is trying too hard to make himself sound authoritative and intelligent and in the end it just comes off sounding pompous and preachy. I want to see the facts and be told how I can fix things, not have to wade through all your big words to get there. On the other hand, I don't disagree with his premise. There is good info to be had here if you want to wade through to find it. I think Why Don't Students Like School? covers the same type of questions in an easier to understand way and answers them quite succinctly. I actually started reading it first before heading into The Knowledge Deficit, and that may have tainted it for me. I'll be heading back there for the answers to all that ails our school systems.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Yingtai

    This was more of an essay than a book. Two main arguments. 1. Modern American education is paralysingly dominated by one ideology with roots in the Romantic movement - that learning should be natural (a la Emile). There's also what he calls the formalist ideology, that children should learn skills, not facts. I already knew from teaching GP that the latter was nonsense, but I hadn't realised how much I took the naturalist ideology for granted. 2. Reading proficiency requires not only decoding ski This was more of an essay than a book. Two main arguments. 1. Modern American education is paralysingly dominated by one ideology with roots in the Romantic movement - that learning should be natural (a la Emile). There's also what he calls the formalist ideology, that children should learn skills, not facts. I already knew from teaching GP that the latter was nonsense, but I hadn't realised how much I took the naturalist ideology for granted. 2. Reading proficiency requires not only decoding skills (phonics) but also background knowledge. You need to understand about 90% of the words in order to guess the other 10%. My father was getting at this long ago when he said everyone should know the Greek myths and the Bible, but I hadn't thought about it. Very convincing and easy to read, but having seen the summaries of some of his other books, I can see why some reviews thought this one was redundant. Am off to read them now.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Griffin

    Why are so many well-intentioned educational reforms failing to achieve the desired results? In this book, E.D. Hirsch argues that we're spending too much time teaching kids to "decode" combinations of letters when what we really want is to teach them to read and comprehend, something that requires basic background knowledge. He challenges the idea that learning is "natural" and that students can pick up reading as instinctively as they pick up the spoken world. He argues that test scores will g Why are so many well-intentioned educational reforms failing to achieve the desired results? In this book, E.D. Hirsch argues that we're spending too much time teaching kids to "decode" combinations of letters when what we really want is to teach them to read and comprehend, something that requires basic background knowledge. He challenges the idea that learning is "natural" and that students can pick up reading as instinctively as they pick up the spoken world. He argues that test scores will go up when we agree to a standard, national curriculum that includes broad background knowledge of history, science and culture and that gives all kids - whether coming from advantaged or disadvantaged homes - the same mental inventory of references, something they need to become proficient readers. It's a short, easy read, but it doesn't leave you with much hope that it is possible to transform the public education system.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    First of all, it's important for you to know that I had to read this for a class. That being said... The first chapter was great! It really grabbed my attention and I thought "Wow, for an educational book, this one is going to be pretty amazing!". That was short lived unfortunately. The beginning of each subsequent chapter grabbed me but after the first paragraph, the information became repetitive. Towards the end, the last few chapters were repetitive on the previous ones. There were others in m First of all, it's important for you to know that I had to read this for a class. That being said... The first chapter was great! It really grabbed my attention and I thought "Wow, for an educational book, this one is going to be pretty amazing!". That was short lived unfortunately. The beginning of each subsequent chapter grabbed me but after the first paragraph, the information became repetitive. Towards the end, the last few chapters were repetitive on the previous ones. There were others in my class who thought this book was fantastic. I just didn't feel it like they did. I *wanted* to like this book but I don't do repetition well (except for in writing this review about how repetitious this book is!) I'm disappointed that I still have a knowledge gap when it comes to closing education gaps in American Children. I believe my professor might as well.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matt Fitz

    Assigned reading from my son's school, a classical academy built around a core knowledge/cultural literacy framework. Hope the other parents read it as well. Having read Cultural Literacy in the 90s as part of my own education as a teacher, Hirsch still espouses that the downfall of the American education system is the use of "process-learning" versus "content learning." In essence, we are teaching reading as a skill transferable to any subject needed to be learned as opposed to ensuring childre Assigned reading from my son's school, a classical academy built around a core knowledge/cultural literacy framework. Hope the other parents read it as well. Having read Cultural Literacy in the 90s as part of my own education as a teacher, Hirsch still espouses that the downfall of the American education system is the use of "process-learning" versus "content learning." In essence, we are teaching reading as a skill transferable to any subject needed to be learned as opposed to ensuring children have a broad knowledge based among various domains from which reading is incorporated. Having seen the disparity in student preparedness for high school reading and beyond as a teacher brought about by a lack of core knowledge (national curriculum), there is a lot of good information for educators, administrators, and policy makers to divine from this.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Raquepau

    Be ready to have the current education pedagogy discredited by statistics and scholars. Advocatesreturning to the education model that has been used for centuries, and throwing away all education theories that do not have several years worth of quantifiable studies proving that theory is valid it shouldn't be used by the majority of the schools. This book if for the parent who wonders if some of the learning activitiestheir kids do is worthwhile and helps them understand what they might be missi Be ready to have the current education pedagogy discredited by statistics and scholars. Advocatesreturning to the education model that has been used for centuries, and throwing away all education theories that do not have several years worth of quantifiable studies proving that theory is valid it shouldn't be used by the majority of the schools. This book if for the parent who wonders if some of the learning activitiestheir kids do is worthwhile and helps them understand what they might be missing. It also can be injoyed by those that guestion the Accelerated Program and other very expensive computer programs that are new but have many anecdotal rave reviews, but not many scientific rave reviews.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    I'd give it no stars if I could. It's one big rant about how the author pretty much thinks all teachers are bad teachers; but not because they're bad teacher, because they had bad teachers. He also gives no specific recommendations for what this specific knowledge we all need to teach our children (you'd probably have to buy and implement his curriculum for that) and he uses facts out of context for his own benefit. While the idea is a good one (teaching children knowledge to help them better un I'd give it no stars if I could. It's one big rant about how the author pretty much thinks all teachers are bad teachers; but not because they're bad teacher, because they had bad teachers. He also gives no specific recommendations for what this specific knowledge we all need to teach our children (you'd probably have to buy and implement his curriculum for that) and he uses facts out of context for his own benefit. While the idea is a good one (teaching children knowledge to help them better understand what they read and therefore be better readers), there has to be a better book out there talking about how to do this in our current system. I would have stopped after the first 3 pages if I didn't have to read this for class.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Not very long, but a fairly dense read, heavy on the theory. Convincing arguments regarding the need for specific "core knowledge" to increase reading comprehension competence. The last chapter addressed the lack of continuity in education, across states, communities and even within the same school, which leads to more wasted time in the classroom since more review is required to ensure that all of the students are starting from the same point. Not bad, but I've liked some of his other, more pra Not very long, but a fairly dense read, heavy on the theory. Convincing arguments regarding the need for specific "core knowledge" to increase reading comprehension competence. The last chapter addressed the lack of continuity in education, across states, communities and even within the same school, which leads to more wasted time in the classroom since more review is required to ensure that all of the students are starting from the same point. Not bad, but I've liked some of his other, more practically applicable books better. For more book reviews, visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Harmon

    Hirsch succeeds at arguing that a common base of knowledge, if it is begun to be taught to students at a very early age, will have huge long-term effects not only on their individual reading comprehension, but on closing the inequality gap, since this is where disadvantaged students need help the most. But while he successfully demonstrates that this element is lacking in today's American schools, he is not successful at demonstrating that it should replace or upend the current theories of teach Hirsch succeeds at arguing that a common base of knowledge, if it is begun to be taught to students at a very early age, will have huge long-term effects not only on their individual reading comprehension, but on closing the inequality gap, since this is where disadvantaged students need help the most. But while he successfully demonstrates that this element is lacking in today's American schools, he is not successful at demonstrating that it should replace or upend the current theories of teaching reading comprehension; he is often forced to admit (to his credit!) that there is some merit to the "formalism" he criticizes in the first part of the book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Annie Kate

    This is an excellent book for anyone involved in education, whether at home or in a traditional school. I plan to write at least one blog post based on this book, but for now I'll just point out Hirsch's main point: Good reading comprehension is based on learning an enormous amount of content. As a homeschooler, I believe that Charlotte Mason's methods are the best way to teach this content, but classical education, active unschooling, or even lots of reading aloud are also wonderful ways to do This is an excellent book for anyone involved in education, whether at home or in a traditional school. I plan to write at least one blog post based on this book, but for now I'll just point out Hirsch's main point: Good reading comprehension is based on learning an enormous amount of content. As a homeschooler, I believe that Charlotte Mason's methods are the best way to teach this content, but classical education, active unschooling, or even lots of reading aloud are also wonderful ways to do it. To read my upcoming blog article (planned for April 2016), search for 'Hirsch' at http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bullcitytaheel

    Interesting book. Author is major force behind the "core knowledge" curriculum. His argument in this book is that students have to have a certain amount of basic, cultural knowledge for reading comprehension to grow. (A theory for the 4th grade slump where students should move from decoding to comprehension.) He mentions that a reader must be familiar with 90% of a text's subject for it to make sense. It made sense to me; I'm curious if his thoughts are mainstream in the education community. I g Interesting book. Author is major force behind the "core knowledge" curriculum. His argument in this book is that students have to have a certain amount of basic, cultural knowledge for reading comprehension to grow. (A theory for the 4th grade slump where students should move from decoding to comprehension.) He mentions that a reader must be familiar with 90% of a text's subject for it to make sense. It made sense to me; I'm curious if his thoughts are mainstream in the education community. I guess I'll find out in my upcoming literacy class...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    did I read this? I have no idea. and it's not age--it's throughput. So many books end up on my radar that I lose track of things I do a quick reading of and then return to the library so someone else can read it. My own belief is that E.D. Hirsch and Mark Bauerlein are on the right track in their approach to education. you have to learn words and match them to things, and it builds up background knowledge. Without the background knowledge to understand what you read, you will hit a wall and not did I read this? I have no idea. and it's not age--it's throughput. So many books end up on my radar that I lose track of things I do a quick reading of and then return to the library so someone else can read it. My own belief is that E.D. Hirsch and Mark Bauerlein are on the right track in their approach to education. you have to learn words and match them to things, and it builds up background knowledge. Without the background knowledge to understand what you read, you will hit a wall and not comprehend what you are reading.

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