How to Educate a Citizen: The Power of Shared Knowledge to Unify a Nation (Hardcover)
“Profound, vital and correct. Hirsch highlights the essence of our American being and the radical changes in education necessary to sustain that essence. Concerned citizens, teachers, and parents take note! We ignore this book at our peril."— Joel Klein, former Chancellor of New York City Public Schools
In this powerful manifesto, the bestselling author of Cultural Literacy addresses the failures of America’s early education system and its impact on our current national malaise, advocating for a shared knowledge curriculum students everywhere can be taught—an educational foundation that can help improve and strengthen America’s unity, identity, and democracy.
In How to Educate a Citizen, E.D. Hirsch continues the conversation he began thirty years ago with his classic bestseller Cultural Literacy, urging America’s public schools, particularly at the elementary level, to educate our children more effectively to help heal and preserve the nation. Since the 1960s, our schools have been relying on “child-centered learning.” History, geography, science, civics, and other essential knowledge have been dumbed down by vacuous learning “techniques” and “values-based” curricula; indoctrinated by graduate schools of education, administrators and educators have believed they are teaching reading and critical thinking skills. Yet these cannot be taught in the absence of strong content, Hirsch argues.
The consequence is a loss of shared knowledge that would enable us to work together, understand one another, and make coherent, informed decisions. A broken approach to school not only leaves our children under-prepared and erodes the American dream but also loosens the spiritual bonds and unity that hold the nation together. Drawing on early schoolmasters and educational reformers such as Noah Webster and Horace Mann, Hirsch charts the rise and fall of the American early education system and provides a blueprint for closing the national gap in knowledge, communications, and allegiance. Critical and compelling, How to Educate a Citizen galvanizes our schools to equip children with the power of shared knowledge.
About the Author
E. D. Hirsch, Jr. is the founder and chairman of the Core Knowledge Foundation and professor emeritus of education and humanities at the University of Virginia. He is the author of several acclaimed books on education, including the New York Times bestseller Cultural Literacy, The Schools We Need, The Knowledge Deficit, The Making of Americans, and Why Knowledge Matters. He lives in Earlysville, Virginia.
“Profound, vital and correct. Hirsch highlights the essence of our American being and the radical changes in education necessary to sustain that essence. Concerned citizens , teachers, and parents take note! We ignore this book at our peril."
— Joel Klein, former Chancellor of New York City Public Schools
“Readers cautious about a nationalistic, uniform approach to educating youth will discover in Hirsch's manifesto several compelling reasons for doing so, including the indisputable fact that a unified nation is better equipped to cooperate on international matters than one as polarized as the U.S. in the 21st century. . . . A persuasive, scientifically sound case for an education revolution.”
— Shelf Awareness
“Education-policy thinker and provocateur Hirsch reignites the continuing debate over the content and value of contemporary elementary education in the United States.. . . Valuable for the ongoing education debate.”
"Hirsch’s call for 'a better-educated citizenry' should be heeded by educators and administrators alike."
— Publishers Weekly on Why Knowledge Matters
“Anyone [who's] struggled to read an article stuffed with technical or legal jargon, or with arcane references to obscure places and events, has had a taste of what it’s like to be a child who has been deprived of the cultural touchstones that literate adults take for granted. Hirsch is performing a brave and invaluable service by reminding us that proficient reading depends not just on skilled eyes and ears but on an educated mind.”
— Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, author of The Language Instinct and The Sense of Style on Why Knowledge Matters
“Hirsch has done it again. He has produced the most clear and well-grounded argument for why a knowledge-centric education is critical for enhancing educational equity. He pulls no punches. Why Knowledge Matters provides thoughtful solutions to important education issues.”
— Susan B. Neuman, professor and chair, Teaching and Learning Department, Steinhardt School, New York University on Why Knowledge Matters
“If you are frustrated and angry about the over-testing of students, the narrowing of the curriculum, the scapegoating of teachers, and the persistence of the achievement gap, you must read this brilliant book. Hirsch persuasively explains how all these phenomena are related, and points the way forward to a better education for all.”
— Daniel T. Willingham, professor, University of Virginia on Why Knowledge Matters
"A damning, highly provocative, full-scale assault on today's educational establishment."
— Publishers Weekly on The Schools We Need
"Offers a penetrating and compelling analysis of how, despite the good intentions of educators, bad ideas and failed theories now characterize American education."
— Indianapolis Star on The Schools We Need
"A brilliant, combative, and intensely practical discussion of how our education system got into its current mess and what we must do to pull it out."
— Donna Fowler, American Federation of Teachers on The Schools We Need