Wednesday, September 4, 2013

E. D. Hirsch Argues for the Common Core

E D. Hirsch has a column here arguing for the adoption of the common core curriculum.

Dr. Hirsch, I could agree with your argument if children were ketchup bottles, and all we had to do was pour in the right content. But children have dreams, abilities,background experiences, and passions all of their own. Trying to force all children into this narrow
stream of complex, classic studies will result in many children learning nothing at all.

I taught high school English for 37 years. I had students every year who could ace any test you threw at them. But their superior knowledge and skills did not come from being forced, at an early age,to read nothing but complex writing that some committee decided was good for them. No, these advanced kids spent their childhoods reading R. L. Stine, and Susan Cooper, and J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen King. They read books that excited them, and illuminated their world.  This avid, wide reading behavior gave them the skills to be able to read complex literature by high school.

The only Common Core curriculum I would support is one that made this a priority. Children need to develop a love and habit of reading.  Only after they are avid readers should we give them the kind of classical fiction and non-fiction that you are suggesting.

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