Dr Eric D Hirsch, Jr
Dr Hirsch claims that although schools are teaching the mechanics of reading, they fail to convey the knowledge needed for the more complex and essential skill of reading comprehension. Hirsch corrects popular misconceptions about topical issues in education, such as standardised testing, and takes to task educators' claims that they are powerless to overcome class differences.
He asserts that the problem with US education is not inadequate teachers; rather, it is a set of misguided ideas in which teachers have been taught to believe, such as naturalism or the notion that learning should proceed from experience rather than formal education. He also disputes formalism, or the notion that schools should attempt to teach generalisable skills, such as inferring and information gathering, rather than bodies of content knowledge; and, demographic determinism, the idea that teaching alone cannot overcome the achievement differences that result from socioeconomic inequality.
Hirsch argues that schools need to spend more time on academic content and a common base of knowledge. If this is taught to pupils at a very early age, it will have huge long-term effects not only on their individual reading comprehension, but on closing the inequality gap, since this is where disadvantaged pupils need the most help.
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