American Ethnicity: A Sense of Commonality
By E.D. Hirsch, Jr.
Thirty-five years after the publication of his seminal work, Cultural Literacy, E.D. Hirsch issues an urgent call to action by teachers, parents, legislators – anyone concerned with the future of America – in his newest publication.
As Hirsch explains in American Ethnicity,
Acquiring American literacy depends upon gaining American ethnicity. And, since literacy (coupled with numeracy) is a chief aim of the elementary school in modern nations, it is a chief duty of the American elementary school to impart American ethnicity to all its students. Ethnicity is not inborn; it is learned. … Historians of the modern world have shown that to impart to every young citizen the national ethnicity is the central purpose of the modern elementary school. [We]…need both to multicultural-ize and to American-ize the curriculum in a way that makes every group feel included, but that also enables Americans to understand books and lectures and newspapers and be able to communicate effectively with other literate Americans.
Of particular interest, Hirsch goes on to cite concrete examples of specific schools across the country that have successfully embraced this approach, noting that the level and the fairness of school achievement results have vastly improved.
Ideal as a title for book discussion groups, American Ethnicity is sure to serve as a basis for productive conversations among all who read it.