The Cultural Literacy Movement

The historic tendency of educators to promote literacy lists goes today under the moniker of "Cultural Literacy." This current incarnation promises to be even more dangerous than usual. The Cultural Literacy movement has replaced the National Education Association committee's emphasis on living experience with an emphasis on static academic knowledge. This movement in its various guises has filled the bookstores with books that claim to explain exactly what it is that a person must know to be "literate" in fields as diverse as science, culture, religion, and art history. The philosophy of the literacy list is even being advocated for each grade level. E.D. Hirsch, Jr., the major proponent of Cultural Literacy, has edited a set of books called The Core Knowledge Series, which includes titles like "What Your First Grader Needs to Know." In this work, Hirsch explains that his goal is to define "a specific core of knowledge for each grade that motivates everyone through definite attainable standards."

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