Harvard Educational Review
  1. Spring 1999 Issue »

    Essay Review - Questioning Core Assumptions: A Critical Reading of and Response to E. D. Hirsch’s The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them

    Kristen L. Buras
    TThe Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them
    By E. D. Hirsch, Jr.
    New York: Doubleday, 1996. 317 pp. $24.95.

    It is naive to think of the school curriculum as neutral knowledge. Rather, what counts as legitimate knowledge is the result of complex power relations and struggles among identifiable class, race, gender, and religious groups. (Apple, 1993, p. 46)
    In The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them, E. D. Hirsch presents his analysis of education in the United States and his vision of how schools need to change. This review deconstructs Hirsch’s ideological position and interrogates its relationship to broader rightist mobilizations. The Schools We Need is not a solitary work produced in a vacuum; it is symbolic of a body of literature situated within a conservative political landscape and growing educational movement. In providing a critical reading of and response to Hirsch’s text, my primary intention is therefore to discern its fundamental premises as they relate to ongoing cultural struggles and rightist mobilizations. It is my hope, however, that this review will not only reveal Hirsch’s core assumptions, but also call them into question. To accomplish this, Buras begins by locating Hirsch’s work within New Right politics. Next, Buras provides an overview of the book and lay out and respond to its fundamental assumptions. Lastly, Buras discusses the role these assumptions play in building political alliances and situate the book within the conservative restoration, particularly the Core Knowledge Movement, the educational initiative connected to Hirsch’s work.
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    Spring 1999 Issue

    Abstracts

    Opportunities and Obstacles in the Competency-Based Training of Primary Teachers in England
    Denis Hayes
    Good Readers, Good Teachers?
    Subject Matter Expertise as a Challenge in Learning to Teach
    Diane Holt-Reynolds
    Further Comment - Hollow Theory: A Reply to Rajagopalan
    Gary Thomas
    Essay Review - Questioning Core Assumptions: A Critical Reading of and Response to E. D. Hirsch’s The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them
    Kristen L. Buras

    Book Notes

    Critical Education in the New Information Age
    By Manuel Castells, Ramón Flecha, Paulo Freire, Henry A. Giroux, Donaldo Macedo, and Paul Willis

    Whose Judgment Counts?
    By Evangeline Harris Stefanakis

    Good Education
    By Ivor A. Pritchard

    The Curriculum
    Edited by Landon E. Beyer and Michael W. Apple

    And There Were Giants in the Land
    By John A. Beineke

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