a backlash against the appalling results achieved in many American schools, a new Cultural
Literacy movement13 has emerged, sparked by Professor H.D. Hirsch Jr.
In his book of that name, he argues that there is a core of information that is essential
for anyone to be able to sensibly discuss and understand the world. He and colleagues
Joseph F. Kett and James Trefil have even produced The Dictionary of Cultural
Literacy: subtitled What Every American Needs to Know.
Fortunately the emerging fifth alternative is one that
combines the best of all. It is possible for all of us to absorb all that information that
Professor Hirsch and the European tradition urges. It is now simple for that information
to be available instantly, in easily accessible form, in a variety of interactive ways -
whenever we want it.
It's also desirable that everyone should emerge
from school able to read, write, spell and understand the basics of mathematics, history,
geography, the physical sciences, music, and much, much more. It's vital that we
continue to produce great academics and scientists. But, given the continual changes in
society, it's even more important that everyone emerges from school with the ability
to be self-acting, self-learning, self-managers of one's own future. And we can do
that by linking the best of the systems that have been proven to work.
We prefer to think of it as common sense. But,
given the way many theorists have elevated faulty theories into dogma, perhaps it's uncommon
10. Learning on four levels
Whatever subject or subjects
students tackle, the real test of tomorrow's education system will come from its
ability to excite them with the utter joy of learning. That means encouraging every
student to build the self-esteem that is vital for everyone to grow and develop.
In every successful system we have studied
around the world, self-esteem ranks in importance ahead of course-content.
Equally important for those who would otherwise drop
out is the need to learn the skills of coping with life. That means a four-pronged
curriculum is needed - one that stresses:
Self-esteem and personal development;
Learning how to learn and learning how
Contents Page Preface