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Why Knowledge Matters: Rescuing Our Children from Failed Educational Theories

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  111 ratings  ·  19 reviews
In Why Knowledge Matters, influential scholar E. D. Hirsch, Jr., addresses critical issues in contemporary education reform and shows how cherished truisms about education and child development have led to unintended and negative consequences.
Hirsch, author of The Knowledge Deficit, draws on recent findings in neuroscience and data from France to provide new evidence for th
Paperback, 280 pages
Published September 20th 2016 by Harvard Education Press
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Chris Wejr
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So many conversations in education focus on skill development - creative thinking, critical thinking, comprehension, metacognition, etc. These are important but only if we keep our sights on the importance of knowledge development.

Hirsch makes it very clear that skills like reading comprehension and critical thinking cannot take place without core knowledge. He also challenges the reader to reflect upon much of the progressive ideas in education to ensure there is research and evidence to suppo
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Sehr viele gute Argumente dafür, dass Kompetenzen eben nicht alles sind und immer auf bestehendem Wissen aufbauen müssen. Allerdings sehr auf das us-amerikanische System ausgerichtet.
Samuel Lubell
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: education, nonfiction
This book continue's Hirsch's idea that instead of teaching reading skills, such as how to find the main idea, we should be teaching and testing content. I agree that students need more history and science content, but I believe we can teach vocabulary and reading skills that will help students with unfamiliar material, even if it is easier for students to read material about which they know something. Still, the material on the change in French elementary school is fairly convincing.
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pedagogik
For me, being a language teacher in a Swedish school, this book was extremely interesting! I recognize a lot of the problems raised by Hirsch and I would urgently like to see a way to improve reading comprehension amongst schoolchildren too. There was some very insightful material on the importance of an extensive vocabulary as well! This is well worth a read for anyone working with education.
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
This book really made me think about the educational system that we have built here in the US and what there is to be done to fix it. Hirsch gives some good suggestions. Being in an independent school myself, I embrace suggested moves toward a "lowercase core curriculum."

Thesis: "Imparting a well-rounded, knowledge-based curriculum will be the solution to many recalcitrant problems of our schooling, including preschool fadeout, unacceptable achievement gaps, and the tribulations of t
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: professional
Hirsch lays out a clear argument as to why educators need to d a much better job of stressing content as well and "critical thinking skills." Hirsch puts much of the blame on the Progressive Educators of the 1920s and 1930s for moving in this direction, but he does, potentially inadvertently, explain how progressive constructs can co-exist with content-rich curriculum programs. Uses the changes in French education in the 1990s as an illustrative example to support his argument.
Eric Kalenze
Essential reading if you're concerned about improving education in the US. Describes and justifies changes we must make to our approaches and practices, perhaps better than any of his previous work--and, as I've learned so much from Hirsch's previous work, that's saying something. Required.
Laura Gomez
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I cannot say that I completely agree with Hirsch (it’s hard to not feel at least a tinge of white elitism) BUT I have to give this book 5 stars because it profoundly altered the way that I think about education and knowledge. I’ve been an elementary school teacher for 6 years, read many books on education, and this far and away felt the most important of all I’ve read because of it’s stray from repetitive dominant thought in education and the courage to truly challenge the status quo, regardless ...more
Anh Hoang
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Cuốn sách này khiến cho mình liên tưởng đến hệ thống giáo dục nước nhà hiện tại, cũng có những điểm được và chưa được. Mình đồng ý rằng chúng ta cần chú trọng hơn đến các nội dung mang tính lịch sử và khoa học, nhưng mình cũng ko đồng tình hoàn toàn với cách nhìn nhận và các giải pháp mà tác giả đưa ra đối với các nội dung language.
Karla Winick-Ford
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this text! It's informative, supportive, and an enjoyable read. Addresses the crisis we have, as well as historical context and a suggested way to break the cycle.
The sections on France and Japan were especially interesting, as well as Hart/Risley's research which was built from Stich's research. Worth a look at.
Dec 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I appreciate the data Mr. Hirsch shares that shows how current educational philosophies are failing. We are not headed in the right direction. I don’t know if I agree with all of his solutions, but I appreciate his expertise and efforts to speak out.
Jenny Olechowski
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
Absolutely comforting, validating and reassuring that not everyone has blindly passed by the "let's stop and think before proceeding" pathway to school improvement.
Jeanette Speka
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. A must read for educators and others who care about improving our education system.
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Picked up this book because I was interested in the science of education, and it did not disappoint. Lots of great and unexpected points made in this book that are backed up by studies and statistics. The author works to show what Common Core could be if it were implemented in a more thoughtful way, as in the case of Core Knowledge Sequence schools. Opened my eyes to the reasons behind our nation's educational troubles and what really works instead.
Elizabeth Clayton-Bennett
I remember when Hirsch's first book on cultural literacy first came out. I was a graduate student and my main complaint was that his view of cultural literacy was much too limited, too "dead, white, male." Although he has tried to address that issue in this book, I think it is still a valid complaint. I read this current book, though, as a middle school teacher in a low-income school with numerous English Learners. I found myself agreeing, for the most part, with his assertion that students need ...more
Kelly Broersma
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Every educator should give this book a read. Hirsch has alway been an advocate for general knowledge in education and this book is interesting. I encourage parents to read as well, but might feel a little academic for the average reader.
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you're looking for reasons why we just aren't making better more consistent progress or any at all in some instances, in education, this book will give you a lot to think about.
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Sep 02, 2017 marked it as to-read
"Thinking skills cannot readily be separated from one subject matter and applied to other subject matters"
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“There are no significant shortcuts to intellectual competence. Domain-specific knowledge and long practice are essential to consolidating a skill in long-term memory. Neither computers nor general critical-thinking techniques can circumvent those arduous requirements.” 0 likes
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