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robertogreco : culturalliteracy   4

lalitha vasudevan on Twitter: "Overhearing tutoring session between adult tutor & suburban hs student. I despair at the extensive focus on relatability (between student & text) as strategy for responding to comprehension questions and essay writing, where
"Overhearing tutoring session between adult tutor & suburban hs student. I despair at the extensive focus on relatability (between student & text) as strategy for responding to comprehension questions and essay writing, wherein to relate to have personally experienced.

1/

Being able to relate, in and of itself, isn't the cause of my despair. It's the over-reliance on experience to the exclusion of other ways of creating conditions for understanding that worries me. This bent away from the traps of "cultural literacy" began w/good intentions;

2/

but this response -- understandably, in resistance to the hyper-testing mania that overtook and still dominates much of the schooling landscape -- may err too far in the direction of allowing some young people to never have to stray too far from their own thoughts.

3/

I want to know what young people think, what they notice and see, how they navigate and experience the world. AND, I want their insights on what others notice, see, conclude, design, and decide; for that, too, concerns young people --

4/

not only in their immediate, local, kinship networks, but about how they perceive others' perceptions of the they things they have noticed, or not. They are civic beings, active in their citizenry, and to deny this and allow otherwise is educational malpractice.

5/

I want young people to be seen and engaged as real interlocutors, not discursive window dressing to be written into curricula and grant proposals as the "participatory" element. I don't just want to hear what they think; I want to think with them, toward new questions.

6/

So, I return to a familiar, frustrating thought: My, how standardization, answer-driven teaching, & the greedy pursuit of efficiency-driven uniformity has royally screwed over kids & schools.
And (some) big data efforts want to help do more of the same.

7/7
#smalldatabigmoments"
lalithavasudevan  education  standardizedtesting  standardization  experience  relatability  teaching  learning  schools  schooliness  kinship  perception  culturalliteracy  howweteach  howwelearn  comprehension  essays  writing  howwewrite  teachingreading  teachingwriting  noticing  civics  citizenship  democracy  democratic  malpractice  participatory  participation  unschooling  deschooling  pedagogy  uniformity  efficiency  bigdata  testing 
august 2018 by robertogreco
E.D. Hirsch Jr.'s 'Cultural Literacy' in the 21st Century - The Atlantic
"much of this angst can be interpreted as part of a noisy but inexorable endgame: the end of white supremacy. From this vantage point, Americanness and whiteness are fitfully, achingly, but finally becoming delinked—and like it or not, over the course of this generation, Americans are all going to have to learn a new way to be American.

Imagine that this is true; that this decades-long war is about to give way to something else. The question then arises: What? What is the story of “us” when “us” is no longer by default “white”? The answer, of course, will depend on how aware Americans are of what they are, of what their culture already (and always) has been. And that awareness demands a new kind of mirror.

It helps first to consider some recent history. In 1987, a well-regarded professor of English at the University of Virginia named E.D. Hirsch Jr. published a slim volume called Cultural Literacy. Most of the book was an argument—textured and subtle, not overtly polemical—about why nations need a common cultural vocabulary and why public schools should teach it and, indeed, think of their very reason for being as the teaching of that vocabulary.

At the end of the book Hirsch and two colleagues tacked on an appendix: an unannotated list of about 5,000 names, phrases, dates, and concepts that, in their view, “every American needs to know.” The rest (to use a phrase that probably should’ve been on the list) was history.

The appendix became a sensation and propelled the book to the top of the best-seller list. Hirsch became that rare phenomenon: a celebrity intellectual. His list was debated in every serious publication and elite circles. But he also was profiled in People magazine and cited by pundits who would never read the book.

Hirsch’s list had arrived at a ripe moment of national anxiety, when critics like Allan Bloom and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. were bemoaning the “closing of the American mind” and “the disuniting of America”; when multicultural curricula had arrived in schools, prompting challenges to the Western canon and leading Saul Bellow to ask mockingly who the Tolstoy of the Zulus was, or the Proust of the Papuans; a time when Bill Bennett first rang alarms about the “dumbing-down of America.”

The culture wars were on. Into them ambled Hirsch, with his high credentials, tweedy profile, reasoned arguments, and addictively debatable list. The thing about the list, though, was that it was—by design—heavy on the deeds and words of the “dead white males” who had formed the foundations of American culture but who had by then begun to fall out of academic fashion. (From a page drawn at random: Cotton Mather, Andrew Mellon, Herman Melville).

Conservatives thus embraced Hirsch eagerly and breathlessly. He was a stout defender of the patrimony. Liberals eagerly and breathlessly attacked him with equal vigor. He was retrograde, Eurocentric, racist, sexist. His list was a last gasp (or was it a fierce counterattack?) by a fading (or was it resurgent?) white establishment.

Lost in all the crossfire, however, were two facts: First, Hirsch, a lifelong Democrat who considered himself progressive, believed his enterprise to be in service of social justice and equality. Cultural illiteracy, he argued, is most common among the poor and power-illiterate, and compounds both their poverty and powerlessness. Second: He was right.

A generation of hindsight now enables Americans to see that it is indeed necessary for a nation as far-flung and entropic as the United States, one where rising economic inequality begets worsening civic inequality, to cultivate continuously a shared cultural core. A vocabulary. A set of shared referents and symbols.

Yet that generational distance now also requires Americans to see that any such core has to be radically reimagined if it’s to be worthy of America’s actual and accelerating diversity. If it isn’t drastically more inclusive and empowering, what takes the place of whiteness may not in fact be progress. It may be drift and slow disunion. So, first of all, Americans do need a list. But second, it should not be Hirsch’s list. And third, it should not made the way he made his. In the balance of this essay, I want to unpack and explain each of those three statements."



"Not long after his original book came out, Hirsch published the first of several editions of a Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. Here the list could be supplemented with explanations and pictures. What’s striking about the most recent edition, from 2002, is how multicultural it is compared to the first appendix. Where the 1987 list mentioned China but never Chinese Americans, the 2002 dictionary describes the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Still, it’s notable that the 2002 dictionary was the last edition published. We’ve moved on. The tempo of meme creation and destruction has become too fast for one person, one book, to follow.

That’s because the Internet has transformed who makes culture and how. As barriers to culture creation have fallen, orders of magnitude more citizens—amateurs—are able to shape the culture in which we must all be literate. Cat videos and Star Trek fan fiction may not hold up long beside Toni Morrison. But the entry of new creators leads to new claims of right: The right to be recognized. The right to be counted. The right to make the means of recognition and accounting.

And as the pool of potential culture-makers has widened, the modes of culture creation have similarly shifted away from hierarchies and institutions to webs and networks. Wikipedia is the prime embodiment of this reality, both in how the online encyclopedia is crowd-created and how every crowd-created entry contains links to other entries. (It also demonstrates that democratization can yield something much richer than a lowest-common denominator result.)

What does this mean for this omni-American cultural literacy project? For one thing, the list for these times can’t be the work of one person or even one small team. It has to be everyone’s work. It has to be an online, crowd-sourced, organic document that never stops changing, whose entries are added or pruned, elevated or demoted, according to the wisdom of the network.

Everyone should make his or her own list online. We can aggregate all the lists. And from that vast welter of preferences will emerge, without any single person calling it so, a prioritized list of “what every American needs to know.”

It also means that every entry on this dynamic list can be a node to another list. So an entry on “robber barons” (present in the 1987 list) should open up to “malefactors of great wealth” (TR’s line, not on the 1987 list) and “economic royalists” (FDR’s, not there either) and “the 1 percent.” There should be an entry on “Southern heritage” that links sideways to other euphemisms for white supremacy. Or an entry on “women’s suffrage” that links to other suffrage movements.

This will be a list of nodes and nested networks. It will be a fractal of associations, which reflects far more than a linear list how our brains work and how we learn and create. Hirsch himself nodded to this reality in Cultural Literacy when he described the process he and his colleagues used for collecting items for their list, though he raised it by way of pointing out the danger of infinite regress. “Where should such associations stop?” he asked. “How many are generally known by literate people?”

His conclusion, appropriate to his times, was that you had to draw boundaries somewhere with the help of experts. My take, appropriate to our times, is that Americans can draw not boundaries so much as circles and linkages, concept sets and pathways among them.

Because 5,000 or even 500 items is too daunting a place to start, I ask here only for your top ten. What are ten things every American—newcomer or native born, affluent or indigent—should know? What ten things do you feel are both required knowledge and illuminating gateways to those unenlightened about American life?"
ericliu  us  history  culture  race  racism  whitesupremacy  whiteness  edhirsch  socialjustice  equality  culturalliteracy  via:davidclifford 
july 2016 by robertogreco
I’m just a working-class guy trying to take part in the conversation that all the smart people are having. What books should I read?
QUESTION (in part):

"I’m just a working-class guy trying to take part in the conversation that all the smart people are having. This brings me to my question: What books should I read? There are so many books out there worth reading, that I literally don’t know where to start."

ANSWER (in parts):

"We’re not on a ladder here. We’re on a web. Right now you’re experiencing a desire to become more aware of and sensitive to its other strands. That feeling you’re having is culture. Whatever feeds that, go with it. And never forget that well-educated people pretend to know on average at least two-thirds more books than they’ve actually read."

"Come up with a system of note-taking that you can use in your reading. It’s okay if it evolves. You can write in the margins, or keep a reading notebook (my preference) where you transcribe passages you like, with your own observations, and mark down the names of other, unfamiliar writers, books you’ve seen mentioned (Guy D. alone will give you a notebook full of these). Follow those notes to decide your next reading. That’s how you’ll create your own interior library. Now do that for the rest of your life and die knowing you’re still massively ignorant. (I wouldn’t trade it!)"

"Ignore all of this and read the next cool-looking book you see lying around. It’s not the where-you-start so much as the that-you-don’t-stop."

SEE ALSO: the books recommended

[Orginal is here: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2012/08/31/dear-paris-review-john-jeremiah-sullivan-answers-your-questions/ ]
books  reading  literacy  2013  advice  learning  lifelonglearning  canon  wisdom  ignorance  readinglists  lists  recommendations  curiosity  booklists  notetaking  notes  observations  education  religion  libraries  truth  howilearnedtoread  readingnotebooks  notebooks  howwelearn  culturalliteracy  culture  hierarchy  hierarchies  snobbery  class  learningnetworks  oldtimelearningnetworks  webs  cv  howweread  borges  film  movies  guydavenport  huntergracchus  myántonia  willacather  isakdinesen  maximiliannovak  robertpennwarren  edithwharton  denisjohnson  alberterskine  karloveknausgaard  jamesjoyce  hughkenner  richardellmann  stephengreenblatt  harukimurakami  shakespeare  vladimirnabokov 
march 2013 by robertogreco
The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We're All Going To Miss Almost Everything : Monkey See : NPR
"Culling is easy; it implies a huge amount of control & mastery. Surrender, on the other hand, is a little sad. That's the moment you realize you're separated from so much. That's your moment of understanding that you'll miss most of the music, dancing, books & films that there have ever been & ever will be, & right now, there's something being performed somewhere in the world that you're not seeing that you would love.

It's sad, but it's also ... great, really. Imagine if you'd seen everything good, or if you knew about everything good. Imagine if you really got to all the recordings & books and movies you're "supposed to see."…That would imply that all the cultural value the world has managed to produce since a glob of primordial ooze…can [be] gobble[d up]…in one lifetime…

If "well-read" means "not missing anything," then nobody has a chance. If "well-read" means "making a genuine effort to explore thoughtfully," then yes, we can all be well-read…"
culture  books  history  future  npr  music  films  cantkeepup  needfrequentremindersofthis  content  flow  control  culling  curation  curating  lindaholmes  rogerebert  humans  life  lifetime  reading  listening  watching  hearing  literature  science  fiction  nonfiction  beingwell-read  takethatedhirsch  culturalliteracy  beauty  insignificance  love  happiness  wisdom  thesumofhumanproduction  numbers  tv  television  art  cv 
april 2011 by robertogreco

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