Essay about Cultural Literacy According to E.D. Hirsch

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Cultural Literacy According to E.D. Hirsch

According to E.D. Hirsch, to be culturally literate is to possess the basic information to thrive in the modern world. It is the "grasp on the background information that writers and speakers assume their audience already has." In his book, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know, Hirsch sets forth 5,000 essential words and phrases of which each person should be knowledgeable. The list ranges from idioms to mythology, from science to fairy tales. Why has this list prompted a notable debate on our country's educational standards? E.D. Hirsch believes that the literacy of American people has been rapidly declining. The long range remedy for restoring and improving American
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It is in this way that Hirsch argues those in opposition of cultural literacy. Many opponents question Hirsch's view by questioning who would decide this common body of knowledge for everyone. People debate what is includedin "the list" on the basis of multiculturism. They ask, is the knowledge equally important to every citizen of the United States no matter what race, gender or religion? Hirsch responds by putting the emphasis on the other side of the hyphen - the American side.

When reading Hirsch's book, I strongly agreed with his big picture of cultural literacy and agree that it is important to establish a common body of knowledge for students consisting of important facts. However, I think Hirsch takes it a step too far by comprising a sample list that intentionally excludes Americans that are of different origin. Hirsch needs to keep in mind that the United
States was founded on the ideal that anyone and everyone should be free and equal -- no matter where they come from or who they are. In essence - multi- culturalism is a part of America's foundation and I think that students should be educated on that ground no matter what Hirsch's "list" says. I believe that
Hirsch's views regarding multi-culturalism and multi-lingualism are completely one sided and too extreme to be applied in today's typical American classroom.

Although it

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