E.D.Hirsch's Curriculum for Democracy in City Journal (Autumn 2009), he outlines Hirsch's work in education, work that disproves and seriously undermines the outdated ideas and practices of progressive educationalists.
E.D. Hirsch, beginning with his book Cultural Literacy, has worked for over twenty years, trying to get educators to see the light and listen to the facts:
More powerfully than any previous critic, Hirsch showed how destructive these instructional approaches were. The idea that schools could starve children of factual knowledge, yet somehow encourage them to be “critical thinkers” and teach them to “learn how to learn,” defied common sense. But Hirsch also summoned irrefutable evidence from the hard sciences to eviscerate progressive-ed doctrines. Hirsch had spent the better part of the decade since Cultural Literacy mastering the findings of neurobiology, cognitive psychology, and psycholinguistics on which teaching methods best promote student learning. The scientific consensus showed that schools could not raise student achievement by letting students construct their own knowledge. The pedagogy that mainstream scientific research supported, Hirsch showed, was direct instruction by knowledgeable teachers who knew how to transmit their knowledge to students—the very opposite of what the progressives promoted.
The “Massachusetts miracle,” in which Bay State students’ soaring test scores broke records, was the direct consequence of the state legislature’s passage of the 1993 Education Reform Act, which established knowledge-based standards for all grades and a rigorous testing system linked to the new standards. And those standards, Massachusetts reformers have acknowledged, are Hirsch’s legacy.We should be saying good-bye to outcomes, skills-based training, "guide on the side," and other dangerous educational practices. Stern sees a glimmer of hope for the American K-12 system.
Unfortunately, the nonsense has found its way into post-secondary education, probably because it serves corporate agendas and the agendas of those who see education as just another commodity.
We can learn how to learn until we drop, but we must eventually learn facts - especially the fact that outdated, disproven progressive educational methods just don't work!
Sol Stern is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.He is the suthor of Breaking Free: Public School Lessons and the Imperative of School Choice.
I would like to invite E.D.Hirsch Jr. and Sol Stern to my soiree.