Welcome to The Valve
Login
Register


Valve Links

The Front Page
Statement of Purpose

John Holbo - Editor
Scott Eric Kaufman - Editor
Aaron Bady
Adam Roberts
Amardeep Singh
Andrew Seal
Bill Benzon
Daniel Green
Jonathan Goodwin
Joseph Kugelmass
Lawrence LaRiviere White
Marc Bousquet
Matt Greenfield
Miriam Burstein
Ray Davis
Rohan Maitzen
Sean McCann
Guest Authors

Laura Carroll
Mark Bauerlein
Miriam Jones

Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

Event Archive

cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

Event Archive

cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Advanced Search

Articles
RSS 1.0 | RSS 2.0 | Atom

Comments
RSS 1.0 | RSS 2.0 | Atom

XHTML | CSS

Powered by Expression Engine
Logo by John Holbo

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

 


Blogroll

2blowhards
About Last Night
Academic Splat
Acephalous
Amardeep Singh
Beatrice
Bemsha Swing
Bitch. Ph.D.
Blogenspiel
Blogging the Renaissance
Bookslut
Booksquare
Butterflies & Wheels
Cahiers de Corey
Category D
Charlotte Street
Cheeky Prof
Chekhov’s Mistress
Chrononautic Log
Cliopatria
Cogito, ergo Zoom
Collected Miscellany
Completely Futile
Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind
Conversational Reading
Critical Mass
Crooked Timber
Culture Cat
Culture Industry
CultureSpace
Early Modern Notes
Easily Distracted
fait accompi
Fernham
Ferule & Fescue
Ftrain
GalleyCat
Ghost in the Wire
Giornale Nuovo
God of the Machine
Golden Rule Jones
Grumpy Old Bookman
Ideas of Imperfection
Idiocentrism
Idiotprogrammer
if:book
In Favor of Thinking
In Medias Res
Inside Higher Ed
jane dark’s sugarhigh!
John & Belle Have A Blog
John Crowley
Jonathan Goodwin
Kathryn Cramer
Kitabkhana
Languagehat
Languor Management
Light Reading
Like Anna Karina’s Sweater
Lime Tree
Limited Inc.
Long Pauses
Long Story, Short Pier
Long Sunday
MadInkBeard
Making Light
Maud Newton
Michael Berube
Moo2
MoorishGirl
Motime Like the Present
Narrow Shore
Neil Gaiman
Old Hag
Open University
Pas au-delà
Philobiblion
Planned Obsolescence
Printculture
Pseudopodium
Quick Study
Rake’s Progress
Reader of depressing books
Reading Room
ReadySteadyBlog
Reassigned Time
Reeling and Writhing
Return of the Reluctant
S1ngularity::criticism
Say Something Wonderful
Scribblingwoman
Seventypes
Shaken & Stirred
Silliman’s Blog
Slaves of Academe
Sorrow at Sills Bend
Sounds & Fury
Splinters
Spurious
Stochastic Bookmark
Tenured Radical
the Diaries of Franz Kafka
The Elegant Variation
The Home and the World
The Intersection
The Litblog Co-Op
The Literary Saloon
The Literary Thug
The Little Professor
The Midnight Bell
The Mumpsimus
The Pinocchio Theory
The Reading Experience
The Salt-Box
The Weblog
This Public Address
This Space: The Fire’s Blog
Thoughts, Arguments & Rants
Tingle Alley
Uncomplicatedly
Unfogged
University Diaries
Unqualified Offerings
Waggish
What Now?
William Gibson
Wordherders

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Announcements

Posted by Mark Bauerlein on 02/26/06 at 08:20 PM

The Core Knowledge Foundation held its annual conference in San Antonio this week, and a highlight was the release of founder E. D. Hirsch’s new book, “The Knowledge Deficit” (Houghton Mifflin). The book nicely encapsulates the rationale for the core knowledge curriculum, especially in the area of reading skills.  The premise is that reading comprehension depends not only on vocabulary and on reading aptitude, but on background knowledge as well, and there is a sizable research literature in reading and psychology to back it up.  Most of the reading instruction that takes place in schools as students gear up for the tests takes a piece of prose and asks students the standard questions: “What is the author’s intention? What is the central idea of the passage? What persuasive strategies are employed?” The problem with this instruction, Hirsch maintains, is that it develops abstract aptitudes but ignores the background knowledge that is key to comprehending most texts.  In sum, most of the passages that students read do not express all the content that is necessary for the passage to be comprehended fully.  This applies not only to overt allusions and citations, but to larger contexts that “familiarize,” so to speak, the content to the reader.  Without the background knowledge at hand, readers struggle to assimilate the text, to gauge its assertions, its unspoken contraries, etc. With every passage requiring a different background knowledge, there is no way to prepare for the test except to spend classroom hours imparting to students core knowledge.

The implications for this premise are broad, and they have been pursued with extraordinary success in the 500 or so Core Knowledge schools across the country.  One of them is to dim the enthusiasm for abstract cognitive skills such as “critical thinking.” The research Hirsch cites in earlier books finds that the critical thinking applicable to one issue/situation is quite different from the critical thinking applied to another.  Successful analysis requires a fair degree of “domain knowledge,” and domain knowledges don’t transfer.  Critical thinking in chess is different from critical thinking in literary analysis.  Take away the domain knowledge and critical thinking is a case of trying to understand a problem without knowing anything about it.

Another important implication affects classroom aims. As Hirsch put it, “If you want to prepare students for the test, give them a good education"--that is, more facts and figures, more events and personages, more history, civics, and science.

Another announcement: National Review is assembling a new blog about academia, and it would be interesting to see some liberal/left countercommentary appear on its pages.


Comments

I hope John Derbyshire is involved, is all I can say. Also, let me recommend Scott McLemee on Jonah Goldberg’s reading habits.

All of three of those questions are essentially unanswerable, the first one famously so. So why should we lie to children?

I don’t recall if Hirsch’s previous work on cultural literacy has pursued domain specificity, but I think it’s sensible. All thinking worth the name is “critical thinking,” certainly, but education has to defend against errors of prejudice and reasoning, no trivial pursuits, they.

By Jonathan on 02/26/06 at 10:06 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I hope you’ll post a link to the National Review blog when it goes live. Call me crazy, but I’m optimistic about it. I think that if academics make a serious effort to engage with each other, especially if we actually talk about exactly what we do in the classroom, we’ll find out how overblown the charges of indoctrination are.

By Clancy on 02/27/06 at 03:23 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I think it’s a case of just not reading enough.  I used to just sit down and read the Britannica when I was a kid and I acquired a lot of knowledge.  What the school offers can only be a fraction of what you really need to know.  You do need to be totally absorbed in quite a few different subjects to gain enough knowledge in enough “domains” so your critical thinking skill will be worth a damn. 

It is a little like learning to play and instrument--but only practicing a few hours a month.  Or learning to read poetry but only reading two three poems instead of thousands.  Or playing half dozen games of chess and then taking a test on chess.  You’ve got to have build up enough critical mass just to develop the skills.

By Jonathan Mayhew on 02/27/06 at 05:56 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Clancy, you want indoctrination? Just browse through the six extant Teaching Carnivals, a virtual “Who’s Who” of radical subversives.

By gzombie on 02/27/06 at 06:45 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Add a comment:

Name:
Email:
Location:
URL:

 

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below: