Wednesday, April 08, 2009

'Technically' a lot of things are 'Great'


Clay Burell on E.D. Hirsch.

You know what irks me, as a day-to-day classroom teacher? Quotes from Hirsch like this:
These much maligned, fill-in-the-bubble reading tests are technically among the most reliable and valid tests available.


Tests of what?

Burell wants to know: "Whose core knowledge?"

I want to know: "Tests of what?"

Is a child who knows the content necessary to read the allusions in 'The Waste Land' necessarily going to get much of anything out of the poem?

"What is reading a poem?" That's a much more interesting question. What does it mean to feel poetry through your bones? What bubble test assesses that?

Furthermore, and quite irritatingly, Hirsch employs the term 'technically'.

I can't stand the word 'technically'. Every musician out there knows exactly what I mean. Not to offend anyone, but among many musicians of a certain age and mindset there is a running joke that Neil Peart from the band Rush is -- technically -- the best rock drummer. But really, now...

Nothing against Rush. 'Closer to the Heart' does have its time and place. But I'll take 'Yo La Tengo' great over 'technically' great any day.

And that's kinda the way I feel about Mr. Hirsch.

ps -- Do check out this video if you haven't seen it before. This would make my own personal core curriculum.

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