Book Review - Cultural Literacy by E. D. Hirsch Jr.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010




I picked up The New First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Your Child Needs to Know by E. D. Hirsch Jr. at the library in Florida for the ride back to New Orleans. I was hoping for an informative read (listen) that would be interesting enough to keep me occupied while driving and provide me with insight into the world of raising kids at the same time. Unfortunately the thing almost put me to sleep rather than keep me engaged. I totally and completely agree with the author's basic idea:

"The idea behind Core Knowledge is simple and powerful: knowledge builds on knowledge. The more you know, the more you are able to learn." - taken from the Core Knowledge Foundation's website

We take for granted what a person already knows for example only half of all people polled could locate the state of New York on a map. That core knowledge is something we take for granted and we shouldn't, as a parent it is my responsibility to teach my son this core knowledge so he will have a good foundation to build on that info in school and be prepared to face the world.

It's not the idea that is the problem, it's this book, I'm going to be flat out honest. This book sucks and the list (which took up 3 discs) of things we should all know is woefully incomplete even for 1985 (when the book was written). It is very very heavy on religious and political terms and nearly completely missing Artistic terms of any kind. I am almost ashamed to say I am a culturally literate person if this is the list used to judge such a thing.

The Core Knowledge website seems to be a bit more advanced today than those original thoughts back in 1985 so maybe it is worth a second look in 2010 but I have to say I am reluctant.

1 your two cents:

Nise' said...

Sorry it put you to sleep on your drive. It floors me to know that some could not locate NY on a map.

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