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Hirsch 2012


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A Primer on

A Primer on

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  • 1. Cultural Literacy:What Every American Needs to Know By: Bridget Gaitor & Sarah Deuitch
  • 2. Who is E.D. Hirsch Jr.?Click the following hyperlink to readthe short biography written by theHoover Institute at Stanford Universitywhere Hirsch was a distinguishedvisiting fellow from 1999 to 2006
  • 3. Hirsch’s Theory: Cultural LiteracyHirsch believed that the education systemshould strive for universal literacy. Hebelieved that in order to achieve this we musthave large amounts of specific information.This theory lead to cultural literacy, thespecific information, needed to gain universalliteracy.
  • 4. What is Cultural Literacy?Cultural literacy defined by Hirsch is thenetwork of information that all competentreaders possess. It is the backgroundinformation, stored in their minds. Thatenables them to take up a newspaper andread it with an adequate level ofcomprehension. Cultural literacy: the set of cultural facts that is known in a society
  • 5. Cultural Literacy vs. LiteracyCultural Literacy LiteracyThe specific facts that The ability toeveryone should know comprehend andin order to engage in decipher words in aintellectual and text for knowledge.academicconversations.
  • 6. Cultural Literacy DictionaryHirsch’s book ends with an appendix thatincludes a list of 5,000 essential facts andpeople that every student should know. Hereare a few: Galileo Mozart The years of the Civil War The Book of Genesis The solar system
  • 7. Cultural Literacy DictionaryOpen the hyperlink below to read a full description of Hirsch’s updated Dictionary of_Cultural_Literacy.html?id=GAzOg4eQl2YC Think about it: How many of these things are you “culturally literate” about? How many are your students “culturally literate” about? Why do you think that is?
  • 8. Visual “List” of Hirsch’s Cultural Literacy DictionaryIf you have trouble viewing the video above, please click on the following hyperlink:
  • 9. Why is cultural literacy needed?Cultural literacy is needed to connect societytogether. It is the glue that allows us to holdconversations with one another and have acommon understanding.
  • 10. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy on McNeil/Lehrer News HourIf you have trouble viewing the video above, please click on the following hyperlink:
  • 11.
  • 12. Issues with Hirsch’s theoryEven though Hirsch’s cultural literacy theoryhas received much praise, some educatorsoppose his theory for these reasons: Who decides what information constitutes as cultural literacy? Why does cultural literacy outweigh other information? Cultural literacy is always changing with society.
  • 13. ReferencesCore knowledge. (2012). Retrieved from literacy. (2009). [Web Video]. Retrieved from Donald Hirsch Jr. (2012). Retrieved from and cultural literacy on Mcneil/Lehrer news hour. (2011). [Web Video].Retrieved from, E. D. (1988). Cultural literacy: What every american needs to know. New York:Vantage Books.