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Support and Advice from TNPC's Parenting Experts

Recent books, such as Allen Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind and E.D. Hirsch’s Cultural Literacy have focused new attention on the issue of how little our kids really know about their own culture.

Studies suggest that high school students don’t even know when the Civil War took place and can’t identify Stalin or Churchill in world history. So the cultural literacy movement emphasizes providing adolescents with a common fund of information about Western culture, so that every student has some knowledge about a broad range of topics and ideas.

The plus side of this movement is that schools are increasingly replacing skill-oriented worksheets and textbooks with culturally significant literature. On the negative side, students are expected in many cases to memorize numerous bits of information that deal with cultural history. This threatens to turn our nation’s schools into one large game of Trivial Pursuit.

Ask your teen’s school what’s being done to address cultural literacy, and make sure that any changes being made go beyond triviality and ensuring that your son or daughter receives an in depth perspective on our rich cultural heritage.

Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. is an award-winning author and speaker with twenty-eight years of teaching experience from the primary through the doctoral level, and over one million copies of his books in print on issues related to learning and human development. He is the author of nine books including Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, In Their Own Way, Awakening Your Child’s Natural Genius, 7 Kinds of Smart, The Myth of the A.D.D. Child, ADD/ADHD Alternatives in the Classroom, and Awakening Genius in the Classroom. His books have been translated into sixteen languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Hebrew, Danish, and Russian.

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