Monday, April 17, 2006

Building Core Knowledge into the Curriculum

Want to read a great article about the importance of a content-rich curriculum that includes a core of knowledge that's critical for students to understand and remember?

In an age where the education pendulum has swung over to the "teach students to think critically" side -- as opposed to the "teach students important subject matter/content" side (often referred to with disdain as rote memorization), E.D. Hirsh, Jr., details "The Case for Bringing Content into the Language Arts Block and for a Knowledge-Rich Curriculum Core for all Children." The article appears in the latest issue of the American Educator, a quarterly online publication of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

Hirsh's article has bucket-loads of relevance, particularly in an international community. Just mull over his lead example:

Consider the following sentence, which is one that most literate Americans can understand, but most literate British people cannot, even when they have a wide vocabulary and know the conventions of the standard language:

Jones sacrificed and knocked in a run.

Typically, a literate British person would know all the words in the sentence yet wouldn’t comprehend it. (In fairness, most Americans would be equally baffled by a sentence about the sport of cricket.) To understand this sentence about Jones and his sacrifice, you need a wealth of relevant background knowledge that goes beyond vocabulary and syntax—relevant knowledge that is far broader than the words of the sentence.
Good food for thought.


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