What types of knowledge do people need when they communicate? Let's consider the process of reading. Here are eight key processes that people do when they read (taken from Schank, 1980):
The proponents of Cultural Literacy assert that simply by teaching children facts, they will become literate. But facts are only useful so far as they help with the processes which underlie communication.
Even when facts are involved, they are ancillary to other types of knowledge, like knowledge about the types of goals people hold and the plans they use to achieve their goals. If you read a story about Lincoln running for President, for example, and you didn't know who Lincoln was, you could infer who he might have been and still comprehend the story. If, on the other hand, you knew who Lincoln was but had no idea what the process of running for President might involve or the results that it might have, then you would not understand very much. Reading does indeed depend on background knowledge, but it depends on a lot more than that, with most of the latter stuff being fairly difficult to get into a list of what one should know.
Hirsch and Schema Theory
Where am I in the content of the book?