I read 3 lengthy articles, all with scintillating titles:
When grad school gets you down, blahghe!
But really, titles aside, these are important pieces of writing that debate questions that determine our American experience. What should children know? What is literacy? Who gets to decide what is important to know?
Deborah Meier would remind you at this point that this is ALL OF OUR (THAT MEANS YOU) problem to examine these questions and participate in creating solutions.
The above-listed articles are good places to start informing yourself of the ongoing national debates over what to teach, and what defines literacy. E.D. Hirsch actually lists 5000 facts he believes every American should know, or at least have vague knowledge of, in order to be have “cultural” and “mature” literacy. It’s both hysterical and terrifying to think of this man sitting down to outline this uniform of literacy. (Does he know that GHWB doesn’t know these facts?) Hirsh might not be as ignorant as GHWB, but he certainly lacks self-knowledge, self-awareness, and dexterity as a writer; he goes on way too long and fails to win the sympathy of readers with culturally insensitive arguments. Why doesn’t he just call the book “Systematic Oppression of Black and Brown People and Anyone Else Who Ever Had an Independent or Original Thought?” He’d get the same support from the GOP and right wingers who love him anyway, without confusing unknowing grad students with such an innocuous title.
More interesting is Provenzo’s polemic, written as direct response to Hirsh’s work. Provenzo argues that his version, the iconoclastic, “un-American,” anti-canonical list of 5000 things Americans “ought” to know, is actually the path to the true Democracy that Hirsh and his cronies are so vociferously seeking. To Provenzo, individualism, debate, and the imperative to be “critical” (read “dissent”) lead us to actualizing Democracy and the American Dream.
Alright, it’s the best I can do after teaching 3 classes, learning 3 class, reading 3 texts, and pushing Adolescent Development HW to the 5AM wake up call.
Start a blahgh. Tell us what you think.
Good night and good luck.