E.D. Hirsch, Jr. (1928- )
Founder and Chairman of the Board of the Core Knowledge Foundation, E.D. Hirsch, Jr., is the leading voice in what can best be described as the back to basics movement. Hirsch holds degrees from Cornell and Yale universities, and is University Professor of Education and the Humanities at the University of Virginia.
He is the author of several books on the fact-based approach to education. His series, What Your Kindergartner-Sixth Grader Needs to Know, is a compendium of essential knowledge for schoolchildren. Hirsch is best known for his 1980s bestseller Cultural Literacy What Every American Needs To Know which offered a list of facts, quotations and information considered by Hirsch to be essential knowledge for all Americans. The Core Knowledge Foundation provides curriculum to schools and conducts research and workshops for teachers. Currently, Core Knowledge schools operate in forty-six states nationwide.
Though Hirshs books have made the best-seller lists, his theories have been challenged by other educators on pedagogical and social grounds. Critics contend that students using the Core Knowledge curriculums are taught what to think not how to think. In the effort to cover all the essential facts, there is concern more emphasis may be placed on the amount of content covered rather than depth of understanding. The approach has also been criticized for its Eurocentric perspective and marginalized attention to other ethnic and cultural influences in shaping history.