One of the arguments I’ve long made in support of Common Core is that properly understood and implemented, it’s a delivery mechanism for the ideas and work of E. D. Hirsch, Jr., and the Core Knowledge curriculum he created.
It’s gratifying—and, alas, too rare—when others connect the dots. But here is Politico, out with its list of fifty “thinkers, doers and dreamers who really matter.” Sharing number eight on the list is Hirsch and David Coleman, the principal author of the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts.
Hirsch’s work and output span decades, but a principal thrust of his ideas can be summarized thusly: reading comprehension is not a “skill” we can teach directly, practice, or master. It is not like riding a bike, where if you learn on one you can ride another with ease. Once you learn to “decode” the words on a page, your ability to read with understanding is largely a reflection of how much knowledge and vocabulary you have and share with the writer.
If schools understood and embraced this well-grounded insight, American education—and elementary education specifically—would look very different. There would be a lot less “question the author” and “find...