Tag Archives: Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know

Association of American Colleges and Universities report: Liberal arts graduates run a marathon to become successful in later life

22 Jan

One of the goals of education is to give the student sufficient basic skills to be able to leave school and be able to function at a job or correctly assess their training needs. One of the criticisms of the current education system is that it does not adequately prepare children for work or for a career. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/borrowing-from-work-schools-teach-career-mapping/ A liberal arts education has been considered the gold standard. A Washington Post article has some good tips about how a liberal arts education could be made valuable in the current economic climate.
Andy Chan, vice president of the Wake Forest University Office of Personal and Career Development, and Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Reynolds Professor of Computational Biophysics and dean of Wake Forest College write in the Washington Post about producing employable liberal arts grads. In the article, Six tips for liberal arts colleges to produce employable grads, Chan and Fetrow give the following advice:

Here are a few recommendations for liberal arts colleges to more deeply realize and communicate the value of the liberal education for the world of work today:
• Develop partnerships that bridge the career development office with the faculty and academic advisors. Students demand to know how their choice of major will affect their career options. By sharing these data and student examples with the faculty and academic advisors, the career development office becomes more vital to students and to the faculty. With the endorsement and influence of the faculty, students utilize the complete range of resources offered by the career development office starting from their first year on campus.
• Provide opportunities for faculty to understand the needs of employers. When professors understand why employers hire certain students, they can articulate how the academic material can be applied variety of work settings and help students recognize and better market this knowledge and skills. They can also more effectively mentor students and provide career advice and connections.
• Make internships and/or research projects an integral part of the student experience. Make sure the student demonstrates the drive to stick with a research problem for longer than a semester. A survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 84 percent of executives at private sector and non-profit organizations expressed a desire for students to complete a significant project before graduation to demonstrate their depth of knowledge and a passion for a particular areas, as well as their acquisition of broad analytical, problem solving and communication skills.
• Offer credit-based courses in career development so that students learn the fundamentals for lifelong career management. With projections that today’s graduate will have eight or more jobs in their life, they must be equipped with the knowledge, skills and tools to navigate the path from college to career as well as post-graduate career changes.
• Bring recent alumni from a variety of careers to campus and perhaps into the classroom to share their experiences for how they utilize their liberal education. Today’s students expect immediate answers and a direct line from major to career. At Wake Forest University, history professors require their students to participate in teleconferences with alumni who applied their bachelor’s degree in history to relevant but not directly related fields, such as journalism, law and marketing. Understanding the breadth of real-world opportunities dispels the myth that all history – and other liberal arts – majors are destined to become professors.
• Develop partnerships between the liberal arts college and the business school to enable faculty and students to work and learn across boundaries. Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise, now the most popular minor at Wake Forest, emerged from a college-business school collaboration. Alternatively, many students choose to acquire the Masters in Management degree at Wake Forest in their fifth year to develop the business knowledge and leadership skills to complement their liberal undergraduate education. These types of partnerships are essential to provide students with the skills to apply their liberal arts skills to business-world problems.
There are many possible solutions to help students realize and articulate the relevancy of the liberal education to the world of work. The one requirement is that liberal arts colleges must make personal and career development a mission-critical part of the undergraduate experience – and they must collaborate with faculty in the endeavor.
A liberal arts education, long regarded as one of America’s unique sources of strength, remains an important vehicle for nurturing young talent who will produce the answers for our future. However, a liberal education without regard to career relevance is not enough. Liberal arts colleges must begin rethinking success by demonstrating relevance beyond the classroom.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/college-inc/post/six-tips-for-liberal-arts-colleges-to-produce-employable-grads/2012/03/31/gIQAQb6EnS_blog.html

In the current economy more and more prospective students are wondering if college is a good investment.

Allie Grasgreen reported in the Inside Higher Ed article, Liberal Arts Grads Win Long-Term:

Liberal arts majors may start off slower than others when it comes to the postgraduate career path, but they close much of the salary and unemployment gap over time, a new report shows.
By their mid-50s, liberal arts majors with an advanced or undergraduate degree are on average making more money those who studied in professional and pre-professional fields, and are employed at similar rates. But that’s just one part of the paper’s overall argument that concerns about the value of a liberal arts degree “are unfounded and should be put to rest.”
“That’s a myth out there – that somehow if you major in humanities, you’re doomed to be unemployed for the rest of your life. This suggests otherwise,” said Debra Humphreys, a co-author of the report and vice president for policy and public engagement at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. “That sort of journey to professional success is more of a marathon than a sprint.”
The report, “How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment,” includes U.S. Census data from 2010 and 2011 and is a joint project of AAC&U and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. Humphreys and her co-author, Patrick Kelly, a senior associate at NCHEMS, looked at long-term career path and salary data as an answer to the many short-term studies on recent graduates that have fueled the assertion that liberal arts graduates are disproportionately un- or underemployed.
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/01/22/see-how-liberal-arts-grads-really-fare-report-examines-long-term-data#ixzz2rCYOkCTv

Back in the day there was a book entitled Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. It was published in 1988 and was written by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Moi liked the concept, some others, not so much. “Cultural Literacy” is defined by Education. Com:

Having sufficient common knowledge, i.e., educational background, experiences, basic skills, and training, to function competently in a given society (the greater the level of comprehension of the given society’s habits, attitudes, history, etc., the higher the level of cultural literacy). http://www.education.com/definition/cultural-literacy/

Marci Kanstroom wrote E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracy which was published in Education Next liked the concept. http://educationnext.org/e-d-hirsch-cultural-literacy-and-american-democracy/ Others, like Patrick Scott criticized the concept in articles like Scott’s A Few Words More about E. D. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/378146?uid=3739960&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=55881093943 Scott takes issue with Hirsch’s criticism of education icons Dewey and the NEA.

Bernard Schweitzer wrote an interesting 2009 piece for the NEA, Cultural Literacy: Is It Time to Revisit the Debate?

Some will say, “What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures, most of them dead White males? Our students are equipped with vibrant local cultural knowledges of their own.” Others will caution me not to expect too much from freshmen, saying that it is my job to ensure that they leave the academy armed with a degree of common knowledge that they may not have when entering it. Yet others may be more concerned, agreeing that while a basic fund of knowledge should be expected of freshmen, my students are perhaps performing so poorly on general knowledge issues because most of them come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., poor inner-city high schools) and diverse ethnic backgrounds (e.g., immigrants). But here’s the rub. If undergraduate students have never heard of Gandhi, Orwell, or Thoreau (or have no reason to remember them), they obviously have such a huge gap in general knowledge that four years of college education are not likely to make up for what has been missing since middle school. Although I may strive diligently to fill those gaps, I realize that we no longer live in a culture that encourages and reinforces a shared knowledge basis with regard to history, geography, literature, and the sciences. But that does not mean that this kind of cultural literacy has ceased to be relevant. Indeed, I believe it is still alive and well, but that it is now cultivated only in a narrow circle of the privileged classes. The reason I don’t see much evidence of this shared knowledge in my own classroom is that I do not, as a rule, encounter the products of the country’s elite preparatory school systems. What I’m saying, then, is that the issue of cultural literacy is socio-economically coded.
Some will say, ‘What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures,most of them dead White males?’
The problem with the argument that cultural literacy is irrelevant is that it does actually matter to some. It matters to the upper-middle and upper classes, who hold the reins of wealth and power. Those families who can afford to send their children to top schools can be sure that their offspring are inculcated with precisely the kind of cultural fluency that some are trying to persuade us holds no importance in today’s diversified world. The more we argue the unimportance of cultural literacy among the general populace, the more we relegate the possession of this knowledge to the province of a socio-economic elite, thereby contributing to a hardening of social stratification and a lessening of social mobility. In the upper echelons of society, cultural literacy indicates belonging, and it signals the circulation of knowledge within tightly knit coteries. http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/TA09CulturalLiteracy.pdf

Whether one wants to argue that certain cultures are not included or do not have a prominent enough place in the definition of cultural literacy, the real question is what is the baseline knowledge necessary to be upwardly mobile? That is the real value of a liberal arts education which helps to develop critical thinking skills which are transferrable to many occupations.

Here is the press release from the Association of American Colleges and Universities:

For Immediate Release
Contact:
Carrie Johnson
Associate Director, Marketing and Media Relations
AAC&U
johnson@aacu.org
202-884-0811
New Report Documents That Liberal Arts Disciplines Prepare Graduates for Long-Term Professional Success
Analysis of Census Data Tracks Long-Term Earnings and Employment Rates of Liberal Arts Graduates; Counters Stereotypes about Value of Liberal Education
Washington, DC—January 22, 2014—The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) released today a new report on earnings and long-term career paths for college graduates with different undergraduate majors. In How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment, authors Debra Humphreys and Patrick Kelly analyze data from the 2010-11 US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and provide answers to some common questions posed by students, parents, and policy makers who are increasingly concerned about the value of college degrees.
Responding to concerns about whether college is still worth it and whether liberal arts* majors provide a solid foundation for long-term employment and career success, the report compares earnings trajectories and career pathways for liberal arts majors with the earnings trajectories and career pathways for those majoring in science and mathematics, engineering, and professional or preprofessional fields like business or education.
“Recent attacks on the liberal arts by ill-informed commentators and policy makers have painted a misleading picture of the value of the liberal arts to individuals and our communities,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider. “As the findings in this report demonstrate, majoring in a liberal arts field can and does lead to successful and remunerative careers in a wide array of professions.”
In addition to providing useful information about long-term career success of liberal arts graduates, the report also shows “the extent to which degree holders in humanities and social sciences are flocking to a family of social services and education professions that may pay less well than some other fields (e.g., engineering or business management), but that are necessary to the health of our communities and to the quality of our educational systems.” The authors note that “the liberal arts and sciences play a major role in sustaining the social and economic fabric of our society.”
The report argues that “whatever undergraduate major they may choose, students who pursue their major within the context of a broad liberal education substantially increase their likelihood of achieving long-term professional success.”
Key Findings
Liberal Arts Majors Close Earnings Gaps—Earn More than Professional Majors at Peak Earnings Ages
• At peak earnings ages (56-60 years) workers who majored as undergraduates in the humanities or social sciences earn annually on average about $2000 more than those who majored as undergraduates in professional or pre-professional fields. These data include all college graduates working full-time, including those with only a baccalaureate degree and those with both a baccalaureate and graduate or professional degree.
Unemployment Rates are Low for Liberal Arts Graduates—and Decline over Time
• The unemployment rate for recent liberal arts graduates is 5.2 percent. The unemployment rate for mature workers with liberal arts degrees (41-50) is 3.5 percent—just .04 percent higher than the rates for those with a professional or preprofessional degree.
Liberal Arts Graduates Disproportionately Pursue Social Services Professions
• Relative to their share in the overall employment market, graduates with humanities or social science degrees are overrepresented in social services professions like social work or counseling.
Many Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Also Attain Graduate and Professional Degrees and Experience Significant Earnings Boosts When They Do
• More than 9.6 million individuals hold a baccalaureate degree in a humanities or social sciences field, and nearly 4 million of these individuals (about 40 percent) also hold a graduate or professional degree. These graduates with advanced degrees experience, on average, a yearly boost in earnings of nearly $20,000. More than half of science and math majors earn advanced degrees and experience, on average, a boost in earnings of more than $30,000 when they do.
Graduate and Professional Degrees Provide Earning Boosts for All; Largest Boost for Science and Math Majors and Smallest Boost for Professional Majors
• Graduate and professional degrees provide significant boosts in earnings for all majors. The largest graduate/professional degree earnings bump is experienced by those with science or mathematics degrees. The smallest bump is experienced by those with professional or preprofessional degrees.
Median Annual Salaries are Highest for Engineering Graduates; But, Whatever the Undergraduate Major, College Degrees Lead to Increased Earnings over Time and Protect Against Unemployment
• The median earnings of engineering graduates are consistently higher than the earnings of all other degree holders, but college graduates in all fields see their salaries increase significantly over time
“My educational background is in a STEM field, but in recent years I’ve become alarmed at the attacks on the liberal arts as being poor educational investments—for both students and the state,” said Dennis Jones, NCHEMS president. “This report makes a strong case that liberal arts degrees really do prepare their holders for successful careers. More importantly, it reminds us that these degrees also are the primary pathways to careers that society critically needs, but has been unwilling to compensate as well as others.”
Note on Methodology
The study analyzed public use files from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey for 2010 and 2011. These files include information related to the education and occupation of about 3 million US residents between the ages of 21 and 65. The report authors grouped together for purposes of comparison college graduates with four-year degrees in a humanities or social science field (e.g. philosophy, history, or sociology) and compared the employment status of these individuals with that of three other groups: those with degrees in a professional or pre-professional field (e.g. nursing or business), those with a degree in science or mathematics (e.g. chemistry or biology), and those with a degree in engineering.
*The term “liberal arts” is used in the report as a description for majors in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.
The publication of this report was supported with grants from The National Endowment for the Humanities, the Spencer Foundation, and the Teagle Foundation.
Credentialed media can obtain copies of the full report by contacting Carrie Johnson at Johnson@aacu.org or 202-884-0811.
________________________________________
About NCHEMS
Through its more than forty years of service to higher education, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) has been committed to bridging the gap between research and practice by placing the latest concepts and tools in the hands of higher education policy makers and administrators. Since its founding, NCHEMS has received widespread acclaim for developing practical responses to the strategic issues facing leaders of higher education institutions and agencies. With project support from multiple foundations, NCHEMS develops information and policy tools targeted at policy makers and institutional leaders that can help them set strategic directions and evaluate their effectiveness. NCHEMS also delivers research-based expertise, practical experience, information, and a range of management tools that can help institutions and higher education systems and states improve both their efficiency and their effectiveness. A particular hallmark of what we do is identifying and analyzing the data drawn from multiple sources to help solve specific policy and strategic problems.
About AAC&U
AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises more than 1,300 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive universities of every type and size.

AAC&U functions as a catalyst and facilitator, forging links among presidents, administrators, and faculty members who are engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Its mission is to reinforce the collective commitment to liberal education and inclusive excellence at both the national and local levels, and to help individual institutions keep the quality of student learning at the core of their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.

Information about AAC&U membership, programs, and publications can be found at http://www.aacu.org.

Citation:

How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment: A Report on Earnings and Long-Term Career Paths
Student, parents, and policy makers interested in the “return on investment” of college education tend to place unwarranted emphasis on the choice of undergraduate major, often assuming that a major in a liberal arts field has a negative effect on employment prospects and earnings potential. This new report—which includes data on earnings, employment rates, graduate school earnings bumps, and commonly chosen professions— presents clear evidence to the contrary. It shows not only that the college degree remains a sound investment, especially in these difficult economic times, but also that— as compared to students who major in professional, preprofessional, or STEM fields— liberal arts majors fare very well in terms of both earnings and long-term career success.
Also available in eBook Version (PDF).
Read an excerpt
Product Code: LASCIEMPL
Author: By Debra Humphreys and Patrick Kelly; With a foreword by Carol Geary Schneider and Peter Ewell
Year Published: January 22, 2014
AAC&U Bookstore: Publications, Books, Assessment, Curriculum, General Education, LEAP, Liberal Education
Member Price: $12.00
Non-member Price: $20.00
http://secure2.aacu.org/store/detail.aspx?id=LASCIEMPL

Related:

Critical thinking is an essential trait of an educated person https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/critical-thinking-is-an-essential-trait-of-an-educated-person/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

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New social studies framewok

17 Sep

Moi wrote in Cultural literacy: Is there necessary core knowledge to be academically successful? Back in the day there was this book entitled “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.” It was published in 1988 and was written by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Moi liked the concept, some others, not so much. “Cultural Literacy” is defined by Education. Com:

Having sufficient common knowledge, i.e., educational background, experiences, basic skills, and training, to function competently in a given society (the greater the level of comprehension of the given society’s habits, attitudes, history, etc., the higher the level of cultural literacy).http://www.education.com/definition/cultural-literacy/

Marci Kanstroom wrote E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracywhich was published in Education Next liked the concept. http://educationnext.org/e-d-hirsch-cultural-literacy-and-american-democracy/ Others, like Patrick Scott criticized the concept in articles like Scott’s A Few Words More about E. D. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/378146?uid=3739960&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=55881093943 Scott takes issue with Hirsch’s criticism of education icons Dewey and the NEA.

Bernard Schweitzer wrote an interesting 2009 piece for the NEA,Cultural Literacy: Is It Time to Revisit the Debate?

Some will say, “What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures, most of them dead White males? Our students are equipped with vibrant local cultural knowledges of their own.” Others will caution me not to expect too much from freshmen, saying that it is my job to ensure that they leave the academy armed with a degree of common knowledge that they may not have when entering it. Yet others may be more concerned, agreeing that while a basic fund of knowledge should be expected of freshmen, my students are perhaps performing so poorly on general knowledge issues because most of them come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., poor inner-city high schools) and diverse ethnic backgrounds (e.g., immigrants). But here’s the rub. If undergraduate students have never heard of Gandhi, Orwell, or Thoreau (or have no reason to remember them), they obviously have such a huge gap in general knowledge that four years of college education are not likely to make up for what has been missing since middle school. Although I may strive diligently to fill those gaps, I realize that we no longer live in a culture that encourages and reinforces a shared knowledge basis with regard to history, geography, literature, and the sciences. But that does not mean that this kind of cultural literacy has ceased to be relevant. Indeed, I believe it is still alive and well, but that it is now cultivated only in a narrow circle of the privileged classes. The reason I don’t see much evidence of this shared knowledge in my own classroom is that I do not, as a rule, encounter the products of the country’s elite preparatory school systems. What I’m saying, then, is that the issue of cultural literacy is socio-economically coded.
Some will say, ‘What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures,most of them dead White males?’
The problem with the argument that cultural literacy is irrelevant is that it does actually matter to some. It matters to the upper-middle and upper classes, who hold the reins of wealth and power. Those families who can afford to send their children to top schools can be sure that their offspring are inculcated with precisely the kind of cultural fluency that some are trying to persuade us holds no importance in today’s diversified world. The more we argue the unimportance of cultural literacy among the general populace, the more we relegate the possession of this knowledge to the province of a socio-economic elite, thereby contributing to a hardening of social stratification and a lessening of social mobility. In the upper echelons of society, cultural literacy indicates belonging, and it signals the circulation of knowledge within tightly knit coteries.http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/TA09CulturalLiteracy.pdf

Whether one wants to argue that certain cultures are not included or do not have a prominent enough place in the definition of cultural literacy, the real question is what is the baseline knowledge necessary to be upwardly mobile? https://drwilda.com/2012/03/12/cultural-literacy-is-there-necessary-core-knowledge-to-be-academically-successful/

Catherine Gewertz reported in the Education Week article, New Social Studies Framework Aims to Guide Standards:

A coalition of states and professional organizations today released a new social studies framework that is designed to offer states guidance when they revise their own academic standards.
The College, Career, and Civic Life Framework, dubbed “C3,” marks a major effort to represent the priorities of four of the social studies disciplines: geography, civics, economics, and history. The three-year project brought classroom teachers and subject-matter specialists from 22 states together with college faculty members and representatives of 15 professional organizations in the social studies to craft an overarching set of guidelines that states can use as they write more detailed sets of expectations for students.
Mindful of the political delicacy of specifying social studies content, the framework’s authors steer clear of subject-matter content, instead laying out an “inquiry arc” with four “dimensions” that span the disciplines: developing questions and planning inquiries; applying disciplinary concepts and tools; evaluating sources and using evidence; and communicating conclusions and taking informed action.
“The C3 framework focuses on inquiry skills and key concepts, and guides¬—not prescribes—the choice of curricular content necessary for a rigorous social studies program,” the document says. “Content is critically important to the disciplines within social studies and individual state leadership will be required to select appropriate and relevant content.”
The Silver Spring, Md.-based National Council for the Social Studies, which led the effort along with University of Kentucky associate professor Kathy Swan, published the 129-page document on its website today.
Leaders of the initiative emphasized that the framework is not a set of standards or a curriculum. Those are better left to states and districts, which vary in what content they want to emphasize in the classroom, they said. Montana, for instance, requires instruction about the culture and history of Native Americans, while North Carolina teachers might spend more time discussing the Civil War, since key events unfolded there, said Susan Griffin, the executive director of the NCSS…..
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/09/17/05socialstudies.h33.html?tkn=XRZFYBcduXD%2F1h5e%2BAw0XANzYTwlUAHTCFBK&cmp=clp-edweek

Here is a synopsis of the framework:

College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards
Submitted by TimDaly on Wed, 09/11/2013 – 11:26am
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards: State Guidance for Enhancing the Rigor of K-12 Civics, Economics, Geography, and History

The result of a three year state-led collaborative effort, the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards was developed to serve two audiences: for states to upgrade their state social studies standards and for practitioners — local school districts, schools, teachers and curriculum writers — to strengthen their social studies programs. Its objectives are to: a) enhance the rigor of the social studies disciplines; b) build critical thinking, problem solving, and participatory skills to become engaged citizens; and c) align academic programs to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies.
What are the guiding principles?
The C3 is driven by the following shared principles about high quality social studies education:
Social studies prepares the nation’s young people for college, careers, and civic life.
Inquiry is at the heart of social studies.
Social studies involves interdisciplinary applications and welcomes integration of the arts and humanities.
Social studies is composed of deep and enduring understandings, concepts, and skills from the disciplines. Social studies emphasizes skills and practices as preparation for democratic decision-making.
Social studies education should have direct and explicit connections to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.
What are the instructional shifts for social studies?
The C3 Framework, like the Common Core State Standards, emphasizes the acquisition and application of knowledge to prepare students for college, career, and civic life. It intentionally envisions social studies instruction as an inquiry arc of interlocking and mutually reinforcing elements that speak to the intersection of ideas and learners. The Four Dimensions highlighted below center on the use of questions to spark curiosity, guide instruction, deepen investigations, acquire rigorous content, and apply knowledge and ideas in real world settings to become active and engaged citizens in the 21st century.
C3 Framework Organization
Dimension 1: Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries Dimension 2: Applying Disciplinary Tools and Concepts Dimension 3: Evaluating Sources and Using Evidence Dimension 4: Communicating Conclusions and Taking Informed Action
Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries Civics Gathering and Evaluating Sources Communicating and Critiquing Conclusions
Economics
Geography Developing Claims and Using Evidence Taking Informed Action
History
Connections to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies
The C3 Framework changes the conversation about literacy instruction in social studies by creating a context that is meaningful and purposeful. Reading, writing, speaking and listening and language skills are critically important for building disciplinary literacy and the skills needed for college, career, and civic life. Each of the Four Dimensions are strategically aligned to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies.
Why do we need the C3 Framework?
There are a number of motivating factors that inspired this work:
Marginalization of the Social Studies – The loss of instructional time at the elementary level and the narrowing of instruction in response to multiple-choice, high-stakes testing has significantly impacted time, resources, and support for the social studies. The introduction of the Common Core provided an opportunity for social studies educators to re-frame instruction to promote disciplinary literacy in social studies in such a way as to allow social studies to regain a more balanced and elevated role in the K-12 curriculum.
Motivation of Students – Children and adolescents are naturally curious about the complex and multifaceted world they inhabit. But they quickly become disengaged when instruction is limited to reading textbooks to answer end-of-chapter questions and taking multiple-choice tests that may measure content knowledge but do little to measure how knowledge is meaningful and applicable in the real world. The C3 Framework addresses this issue in fundamental ways.
The Future of Our Democracy – Abundant research bears out the sad reality that fewer and fewer young people, particularly students of color and students in poverty, are receiving a high quality social studies educator, despite the central role of social studies in preparing students for the responsibilities of citizenship. Active and responsible citizens are able to identify and analyze public problems, deliberate with other people about how to define and address issues, take constructive action together, reflect on their actions, create and sustain groups, and influence institutions both large and small. They vote, serve on juries when called, follow the news and current events, and participate in voluntary groups and efforts. Implementing the C3 Framework to teach students to be able to act in these ways—as citizens—significantly enhances preparation for college and career.
Collaboration is Key
For these reasons and many more, thousands of social studies experts, curriculum specialists, teachers and scholars from across the nation, and the following organizations have been involved in the development of the C3 Framework.
http://www.socialstudies.org/C3

The National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies (NCSS) makes the case for social studies standards.

In National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: Introduction, the NCSS states:

What Is Social Studies and Why Is It Important?
National Council for the Social Studies, the largest professional association for social studies educators in the world, defines social studies as:
…the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. Within the school program, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences. The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.1
The aim of social studies is the promotion of civic competence—the knowledge, intellectual processes, and democratic dispositions required of students to be active and engaged participants in public life. Although civic competence is not the only responsibility of social studies nor is it exclusive to the field, it is more central to social studies than to any other subject area in schools. By making civic competence a central aim, NCSS has long recognized the importance of educating students who are committed to the ideas and values of democracy. Civic competence rests on this commitment to democratic values, and requires the abilities to use knowledge about one’s community, nation, and world; apply inquiry processes; and employ skills of data collection and analysis, collaboration, decision-making, and problem-solving. Young people who are knowledgeable, skillful, and committed to democracy are necessary to sustaining and improving our democratic way of life, and participating as members of a global community.

The civic mission of social studies demands the inclusion of all students—addressing cultural, linguistic, and learning diversity that includes similarities and differences based on race, ethnicity, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, exceptional learning needs, and other educationally and personally significant characteristics of learners. Diversity among learners embodies the democratic goal of embracing pluralism to make social studies classrooms laboratories of democracy.

In democratic classrooms and nations, deep understanding of civic issues—such as immigration, economic problems, and foreign policy—involves several disciplines. Social studies marshals the disciplines to this civic task in various forms. These important issues can be taught in one class, often designated “social studies,” that integrates two or more disciplines. On the other hand, issues can also be taught in separate discipline-based classes (e.g., history or geography). These standards are intended to be useful regardless of organizational or instructional approach (for example, a problem-solving approach, an approach centered on controversial issues, a discipline-based approach, or some combination of approaches). Specific decisions about curriculum organization are best made at the local level. To this end, the standards provide a framework for effective social studies within various curricular perspectives. http://www.socialstudies.org/standards/introduction

Resource:

C3 Framework – College, Career, and Civic Life

We desperately need an informed citizenry in this country.

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Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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No more reading To Kill A Mockingbird: The scourge of the ‘Common Core,’ Producing automatons in mass

9 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Common Core Standards have been introduced in most of the country. As the implementation of the standards proceeds, moi observation is the structure is geared to mass produce automatons which are defined:

automatons  plural of au·tom·a·ton (Noun)

Noun

  1. A moving mechanical device made in imitation of a human being.
  2. A machine that performs a function according to a predetermined set of coded instructions.

Moi wrote about Common Core Standards in Will ‘Common Core Standards’ increase education achievement?

There will continue to be battles between those who favor a more traditional education and those who are open to the latest education fad. These battles will be fought out in school board meetings, PTSAs, and the courts.

There is one way to, as Susan Powder says, “Stop the Insanity.” Genuine school choice allows parents or guardians to select the best educational setting for their child. 2012 Brown Center report from the Brookings Institution, How Well Are American Students Learning? raises questions about what effect, if any, the Common Core Standards will have on education achievement:

Discussion

What effect will the Common Core have on national achievement? The analysis presented here suggests very little impact. The quality of the Common Core standards is currently being hotly debated, but the quality of past curriculum standards has been unrelated to achievement. The rigor of performance standards—how high the bar is set for proficiency—has also been unrelated to achievement. Only a change in performance levels has been related to an increase in achievement, and that could just as easily be due to test score changes driving changes in policy, not the other way around.

The Common Core may reduce variation in achievement between states, but as a source of achievement disparities, that is not where the action is. Within-state variation is four to five times greater. The sources of variation in educational outcomes are not only of statistical importance but also bear on the question of how much state policy can be expected to change schools. Whatever reduction in variation between, say, Naperville and Chicago that can be ameliorated by common standards has already been accomplished by Illinois’s

state efforts. State standards have already had a crack at it. Other states provide even more deeply rooted historical examples.

California has had state curriculum frame-The Common Core may reduce variation in achievement between states, but as a source of achievement disparities, that is not where the action is. http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/rc/reports/2012/0216_brown_education_loveless/0216_brown_education_loveless.pdf

See, Common Core won’t likely boost student achievement, analysis says http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/common-core-wont-likely-boost-student-achievement-analysis-says/2012/02/16/gIQAOfZuJR_blog.htmlThe Common Core State Standards Initiative has some excellent information about the standards. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/19/will-common-core-standards-increase-education-achievement/

Some classic American literature may be dropped from the curriculum.

The U.K.’s Telegraph reports in the article, Catcher in the Rye dropped from US school curriculum:

Schools in America are to drop classic books such as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye from their curriculum in favour of ‘informational texts’.

A new school curriculum which will affect 46 out of 50 states will make it compulsory for at least 70 per cent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace.

Books such as JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird will be replaced by “informational texts” approved by the Common Core State Standards.

Suggested non-fiction texts include Recommended Levels of Insulation by the the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California’s Invasive Plant Council.

The new educational standards have the backing of the influential National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and are being part-funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Jamie Highfill, a teacher at Woodland Junior High School in Arkansas, told the Times that the directive was bad for a well-rounded education.

“I’m afraid we are taking out all imaginative reading and creativity in our English classes.

“In the end, education has to be about more than simply ensuring that kids can get a job. Isn’t it supposed to be about making well-rounded citizens?” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9729383/Catcher-in-the-Rye-dropped-from-US-school-curriculum.html

The Common Core seems to ignore the value of a liberal arts education in favor of a checklist.

Moi wrote in Cultural literacy: Is there necessary core knowledge to be academically successful?

Back in the day there was this book entitled Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. It was published in 1988 and was written by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Moi liked the concept, some others, not so much. “Cultural Literacy” is defined by Education. Com:

Having sufficient common knowledge, i.e., educational background, experiences, basic skills, and training, to function competently in a given society (the greater the level of comprehension of the given society’s habits, attitudes, history, etc., the higher the level of cultural literacy). http://www.education.com/definition/cultural-literacy/

Marci Kanstroom wrote E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracy which was published in Education Next liked the concept. http://educationnext.org/e-d-hirsch-cultural-literacy-and-american-democracy/ Others, like Patrick Scott criticized the concept in articles like Scott’s A Few Words More about E. D. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/378146?uid=3739960&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=55881093943 Scott takes issue with Hirsch’s criticism of education icons Dewey and the NEA.

Bernard Schweitzer wrote an interesting 2009 piece for the NEA, Cultural Literacy: Is It Time to Revisit the Debate?

Some will say, “What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures, most of them dead White males? Our students are equipped with vibrant local cultural knowledges of their own.” Others will caution me not to expect too much from freshmen, saying that it is my job to ensure that they leave the academy armed with a degree of common knowledge that they may not have when entering it. Yet others may be more concerned, agreeing that while a basic fund of knowledge should be expected of freshmen, my students are perhaps performing so poorly on general knowledge issues because most of them come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., poor inner-city high schools) and diverse ethnic backgrounds (e.g., immigrants). But here’s the rub. If undergraduate students have never heard of Gandhi, Orwell, or Thoreau (or have no reason to remember them), they obviously have such a huge gap in general knowledge that four years of college education are not likely to make up for what has been missing since middle school. Although I may strive diligently to fill those gaps, I realize that we no longer live in a culture that encourages and reinforces a shared knowledge basis with regard to history, geography, literature, and the sciences. But that does not mean that this kind of cultural literacy has ceased to be relevant. Indeed, I believe it is still alive and well, but that it is now cultivated only in a narrow circle of the privileged classes. The reason I don’t see much evidence of this shared knowledge in my own classroom is that I do not, as a rule, encounter the products of the country’s elite preparatory school systems. What I’m saying, then, is that the issue of cultural literacy is socio-economically coded.

Some will say, ‘What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures,most of them dead White males?’

The problem with the argument that cultural literacy is irrelevant is that it does actually matter to some. It matters to the upper-middle and upper classes, who hold the reins of wealth and power. Those families who can afford to send their children to top schools can be sure that their offspring are inculcated with precisely the kind of cultural fluency that some are trying to persuade us holds no importance in today’s diversified world. The more we argue the unimportance of cultural literacy among the general populace, the more we relegate the possession of this knowledge to the province of a socio-economic elite, thereby contributing to a hardening of social stratification and a lessening of social mobility. In the upper echelons of society, cultural literacy indicates belonging, and it signals the circulation of knowledge within tightly knit coteries. http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/TA09CulturalLiteracy.pdf

Whether one wants to argue that certain cultures are not included or do not have a prominent enough place in the definition of cultural literacy, the real question is what is the baseline knowledge necessary to be upwardly mobile?

Kenneth P. Ruscio argues in the Christian Science Monitor article, Why a liberal arts education is the best job preparation:

Although my own position, unsurprisingly, is that the fundamental philosophy of the liberal arts is more relevant today than it ever was, I base this belief on the strengths and weaknesses that today’s students bring to college. These strengths and weaknesses, in fact, are the opposite of what they were 20 years ago.

When I first started teaching, I found myself writing comments on term papers along the lines of, “You have a great thesis and you argue it with great passion and fluent writing. Unfortunately, you have no evidence to support it.”

When I left teaching a few years ago, I was writing comments like these: “Congratulations on the mass of data you have discovered. Unfortunately, you have no thesis or central argument. I have no idea what you are trying to prove.”

Students today can easily find information. The challenge is making sense of the whole, finding connections, evaluating the credibility of the information, taking a position, and dealing with complexity.

If ever there was a time when we should be emphasizing education – more than distributing information or training for specific jobs – if ever there was a time for the classic liberal arts, this is it. And I worry that in our enthusiasm to embrace new technologies, we will play too much to our students’ supposed strengths, ignoring the weaknesses they bring to us.

It is hard to find a commonly agreed-upon definition of the liberal arts. For those of us who experienced this kind of education, the definition would be personal. If we went to a college that claimed to be a liberal arts college, we would define a liberal arts education as what we got there.

For me, a liberal arts college is one premised on learning together what we cannot learn alone. A liberal arts education provides perspective and raises the “why” question along with the “what” question. In a hierarchy that starts with information, then moves up the ladder to knowledge, and then even higher to wisdom, a liberal arts college aspires to be operating at the highest rung.

One of the best books I have ever read on the liberal arts came out this year. “College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be” was written by Andrew Delbanco, a literature professor at Columbia University. Early on, he provides wonderful focus for what is to come.

“A few years ago,” he writes, “I came upon a manuscript diary – from 1850 – kept by a student at a small Methodist college, Emory and Henry, in southwest Virginia. One spring evening, after attending a sermon by the college president that left him troubled and apprehensive, he made the following entry in his journal: ‘Oh that the Lord would show me how to think and how to choose.’”

Mr. Delbanco considers that probably the best way to define the mission of the liberal arts: to teach people how to think and how to choose. http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2012/0919/Why-a-liberal-arts-education-is-the-best-job-preparation

We are developing a system to mass produce automatons.

Where information leads to Hope. ©                     Dr. Wilda.com

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Helping at-risk children start a home library

13 Jun

In Cultural literacy: Is there necessary core knowledge to be academically successful? moi said:

Back in the day there was this book entitled “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.” It was published in 1988 and was written by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Moi liked the concept, some others, not so much. “Cultural Literacy” is defined by Education. Com:

Having sufficient common knowledge, i.e., educational background, experiences, basic skills, and training, to function competently in a given society (the greater the level of comprehension of the given society’s habits, attitudes, history, etc., the higher the level of cultural literacy). http://www.education.com/definition/cultural-literacy/

Marci Kanstroom wrote E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracy which was published in Education Next liked the concept. http://educationnext.org/e-d-hirsch-cultural-literacy-and-american-democracy/ Others, like Patrick Scott criticized the concept in articles like Scott’s A Few Words More about E. D. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/378146?uid=3739960&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=55881093943 Scott takes issue with Hirsch’s criticism of education icons Dewey and the NEA.

Bernard Schweitzer wrote an interesting 2009 piece for the NEA, Cultural Literacy: Is It Time to Revisit the Debate?

Some will say, “What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures, most of them dead White males? Our students are equipped with vibrant local cultural knowledges of their own.” Others will caution me not to expect too much from freshmen, saying that it is my job to ensure that they leave the academy armed with a degree of common knowledge that they may not have when entering it. Yet others may be more concerned, agreeing that while a basic fund of knowledge should be expected of freshmen, my students are perhaps performing so poorly on general knowledge issues because most of them come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., poor inner-city high schools) and diverse ethnic backgrounds (e.g., immigrants). But here’s the rub. If undergraduate students have never heard of Gandhi, Orwell, or Thoreau (or have no reason to remember them), they obviously have such a huge gap in general knowledge that four years of college education are not likely to make up for what has been missing since middle school. Although I may strive diligently to fill those gaps, I realize that we no longer live in a culture that encourages and reinforces a shared knowledge basis with regard to history, geography, literature, and the sciences. But that does not mean that this kind of cultural literacy has ceased to be relevant. Indeed, I believe it is still alive and well, but that it is now cultivated only in a narrow circle of the privileged classes. The reason I don’t see much evidence of this shared knowledge in my own classroom is that I do not, as a rule, encounter the products of the country’s elite preparatory school systems. What I’m saying, then, is that the issue of cultural literacy is socio-economically coded….

Whether one wants to argue that certain cultures are not included or do not have a prominent enough place in the definition of cultural literacy, the real question is what is the baseline knowledge necessary to be upwardly mobile?

Anna M. Phillips has an interesting New York Times article,Nonfiction Curriculum Enhanced Reading Skills, Study Finds, which will do nothing to quiet the debate. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/12/nyregion/nonfiction-curriculum-enhanced-reading-skills-in-new-york-city-schools.html?emc=eta1

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/cultural-literacy-is-there-necessary-core-knowledge-to-be-academically-successful/

People who are culturally literate, are readers.

Justin Minkel, who teaches 2nd and 3rd grade at Jones Elementary in northwest Arkansas. He is the 2007 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, a 2011 National Board-certified teacher, and a member of the Teacher Leaders Network reports in the Education Week article, The Home Library Effect: Transforming At-Risk Readers about his library project.

Melinda started 2nd grade with everything against her. She lives in poverty, her mom is not literate in English or Spanish, and she was severely abused at the age of 6. At the beginning of the year, she owned only one book.

Despite these barriers, Melinda made extraordinary academic progress. She moved from a kindergarten level (a four on the Developmental Reading Assessment) to a 4th grade level (a 40) in the two years she was in my class. Her demeanor changed: She began smiling and laughing more often, and she became a confident scholar.

Part of the reason for Melinda’s growth is elusive—that combination of resiliency, strength, and utter grit that awes those of us lucky enough to teach these remarkable children. But another reason for her success is simple—instead of one book at home, Melinda now has a home library of 40 books.

The Project

We called our classroom adventure “The 1,000 Books Project.” Each of the 25 children in my class received 40 books over the course of 2nd and 3rd grade, for a total of 1,000 new books in their homes.

The project was simple to launch. Scholastic donated 20 books per child, and I purchased the other 20 through a combination of my own funds, support from individuals and local organizations, and bonus points. The kids received three types of books each month: copies of class read-alouds, guided reading books, and individual choices selected from Scholastic’s website.

Working with family members, each child chose a space to become a home library, ranging from a cardboard box decorated with stickers to a wooden bookcase. Through class discussions and our class blog, the students talked about everything from how they organized their libraries to their favorite reading buddy at home.

The total cost for each student’s home library was less than $50 each year, a small investment to move a struggling reader from frustration to confidence.

Growing Readers

These 25 students made more progress in their reading than I have experienced with any other class. By the end of the project’s second year, they had exceeded the district expectation for growth by an average of nine levels on the DRA and five points on the computerized Measures of Academic Progress reading test. And they made this growth despite formidable obstacles to academic success—20 of the 25 are English language learners, and all but one live in poverty.

http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2012/06/12/tln_minkel.html?tkn=RNCCFBZesMUu%2FHLFXuXie61FaxwpDAC5G9Cd&cmp=clp-sb-ascd

Given the moderate expense of Minkel’s project, the academic gains are important for his children.

In Reading is a key component of learning, moi said:

The goal of parents, teachers, students, and society should be that all children succeed in obtaining a good basic education. In order to achieve this goal, children must come to school ready to learn. See, Illiteracy in America https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/illiteracy-in-america/

The University of Michigan Health Center explains why reading is important in the article, Reading, Literacy and Your Child:

What is literacy?

Literacymeans being able to read and write.

Why is reading important?

A child’s reading skills are important to their success in school and work. In addition, reading can be a fun and imaginative activity for children, which opens doors to all kinds of new worlds for them.  Reading and writing are important ways we use language to communicate….

There are many ways to include reading in your child’s life, starting in babyhood, and continuing through the teen years.  Focus on literacy activities that your child enjoys, so that reading is a treat, not a chore. http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/reading.htmhttps://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/reading-is-a-key-component-of-learning/

Education is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), the teacher(s), and the school. All parts of the partnership must be active and involved. Parents are an important part because they enforce lessons learned at school by reading to their children and taking their children for regular library time.

Related:

More research about the importance of reading https://drwilda.wordpress.com/tag/reading-literacy-and-your-child/

The slow reading movement https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/the-slow-reading-movement/

The importance of the skill of handwriting in the school curriculum

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/the-importance-of-the-skill-of-handwriting-in-the-school-curriculum/

Resources:

US Department Of Education Helping Series which are a number of pamphlets to help parents and caregivers

How Parents Can Help Their Child Prepare for School Assignments

The ABCs of Ready to Learn

Getting Young Children Ready to Learn

Ebony Magazine’s How to Prepare Your Child for Success

General Tips for Preparing for Kindergarten

Louise Hajjar Diamond in an article for the American School Counselor Association writes about preparing a child for middle school

Getting Your Child Ready to Learn

Classroom Strategies to Get Boys Reading

Me Read? A Practical Guide to Improving Boys Literacy Skills

Understanding Gender Differences: Strategies To Support Girls and Boys

Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well and Often

Boys and Reading Strategies for Success

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Cultural literacy: Is there necessary core knowledge to be academically successful?

12 Mar

Back in the day there was this book entitled “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.” It was published in 1988 and was written by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Moi liked the concept, some others, not so much. “Cultural Literacy” is defined by Education. Com:

Having sufficient common knowledge, i.e., educational background, experiences, basic skills, and training, to function competently in a given society (the greater the level of comprehension of the given society’s habits, attitudes, history, etc., the higher the level of cultural literacy). http://www.education.com/definition/cultural-literacy/

Marci Kanstroom wrote E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracy which was published in Education Next liked the concept. http://educationnext.org/e-d-hirsch-cultural-literacy-and-american-democracy/ Others, like Patrick Scott criticized the concept in articles like Scott’s A Few Words More about E. D. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/378146?uid=3739960&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=55881093943Scott takes issue with Hirsch’s criticism of education icons Dewey and the NEA.

Bernard Schweitzer wrote an interesting 2009 piece for the NEA, Cultural Literacy: Is It Time to Revisit the Debate?

Some will say, “What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures, most of them dead White males? Our students are equipped with vibrant local cultural knowledges of their own.” Others will caution me not to expect too much from freshmen, saying that it is my job to ensure that they leave the academy armed with a degree of common knowledge that they may not have when entering it. Yet others may be more concerned, agreeing that while a basic fund of knowledge should be expected of freshmen, my students are perhaps performing so poorly on general knowledge issues because most of them come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., poor inner-city high schools) and diverse ethnic backgrounds (e.g., immigrants). But here’s the rub. If undergraduate students have never heard of Gandhi, Orwell, or Thoreau (or have no reason to remember them), they obviously have such a huge gap in general knowledge that four years of college education are not likely to make up for what has been missing since middle school. Although I may strive diligently to fill those gaps, I realize that we no longer live in a culture that encourages and reinforces a shared knowledge basis with regard to history, geography, literature, and the sciences. But that does not mean that this kind of cultural literacy has ceased to be relevant. Indeed, I believe it is still alive and well, but that it is now cultivated only in a narrow circle of the privileged classes. The reason I don’t see much evidence of this shared knowledge in my own classroom is that I do not, as a rule, encounter the products of the country’s elite preparatory school systems. What I’m saying, then, is that the issue of cultural literacy is socio-economically coded.

Some will say, ‘What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures,most of them dead White males?’

The problem with the argument that cultural literacy is irrelevant is that it does actually matter to some. It matters to the upper-middle and upper classes, who hold the reins of wealth and power. Those families who can afford to send their children to top schools can be sure that their offspring are inculcated with precisely the kind of cultural fluency that some are trying to persuade us holds no importance in today’s diversified world. The more we argue the unimportance of cultural literacy among the general populace, the more we relegate the possession of this knowledge to the province of a socio-economic elite, thereby contributing to a hardening of social stratification and a lessening of social mobility. In the upper echelons of society, cultural literacy indicates belonging, and it signals the circulation of knowledge within tightly knit coteries. http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/TA09CulturalLiteracy.pdf

Whether one wants to argue that certain cultures are not included or do not have a prominent enough place in the definition of cultural literacy, the real question is what is the baseline knowledge necessary to be upwardly mobile?

Anna M. Phillips has an interesting New York Times article, Nonfiction Curriculum Enhanced Reading Skills, Study Finds, which will do nothing to quiet the debate.

Children in New York City who learned to read using an experimental curriculum that emphasized nonfiction texts outperformed those at other schools that used methods that have been encouraged since the Bloomberg administration’s early days, according to a new study to be released Monday.

For three years, a pilot program tracked the reading ability of approximately 1,000 students at 20 New York City schools, following them from kindergarten through second grade. Half of the schools adopted a curriculum designed by the education theorist E. D. Hirsch Jr.’s Core Knowledge Foundation. The other 10 used a variety of methods, but most fell under the definition of “balanced literacy,” an approach that was spread citywide by former Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, beginning in 2003.

The study found that second graders who were taught to read using the Core Knowledge program scored significantly higher on reading comprehension tests than did those in the comparison schools.

It also tested children on their social studies and science knowledge, and again found that the Core Knowledge pupils came out ahead. Citywide, budget cuts and the drive to increase scores on the state reading and math exams have led many elementary and middle schools to whittle down their social studies and science instruction.

This data shows a promising option for principals to consider,” said Josh Thomases, the deputy chief academic officer for the city’s Education Department.

He said the new curriculum could be useful in helping achieve the new learning targets, known as the Common Core, that New York and most other states have adopted. “As we align curricula and materials with the new Common Core Standards, we look forward to working with this group and others toward a higher standard,” he said.

The pilot program and study were started in the 2008-9 school year by Mr. Klein, who worried that students suffered from what he called a “knowledge deficit.” The study was conducted by the Education Department and paid for with $2.4 million in private donations raised by the Fund for Public Schools, a charity that supports department initiatives.

But city officials said it was not an indication that balanced literacy methods should be abandoned. And several proponents of the longstanding approach, including Carmen Fariña, a former deputy chancellor, said the study focused on too few schools to be used in policy decisions.

I think it’s a very problematic study,” said Lucy Calkins, a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College and an architect of the city’s balanced literacy program.

As far as I can tell, they gave resources to 10 schools to support content literacy and then they tested all of the schools on content literacy,” she said, adding that there was no way of knowing with what fidelity the 10 comparison schools were using a form of balanced literacy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/12/nyregion/nonfiction-curriculum-enhanced-reading-skills-in-new-york-city-schools.html?emc=eta1

This debate will not be quieted anytime soon. Moi still likes the concept of “Cultural Literacy.”

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©