Filling the Void: Lessons from Core Knowledge Schools
In the race to learn, there will always be students who begin with a generous lead. It is the responsibility of schools and teachers, according to the Core Knowledge Foundation's new report, Filling the Void: Lessons from Core Knowledge Schools, to ensure that those initial disparities between students don't become lasting (and widening) chasms. Building on arguments first forwarded by Core Knowledge founder E.D. Hirsch in his books Cultural Literacy and The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them, the report calls for a comprehensive, coherent curriculum that hands all students keys to the club of knowledge and power. "Knowledge is cumulative," say the authors, and children "need knowledge to gain knowledge." Creative teaching methods and individualized instruction are not enough; if students are to perform, they must have a base from which to work. The Core Knowledge curriculum is designed to "reduce repetitions and gaps in classroom teaching," make better use of teacher-student interaction, create structure and consistency for students, and provide a solid basis in the "world knowledge" necessary for future success. Filling the Void, though not particularly substantive, does offer the results of several studies that attest to the efficacy of Core Knowledge's philosophy. One hundred percent of the students at James A. Duff Elementary, a rural Kentucky school once labeled "in crisis," come from low income families. After implementing Core Knowledge as its curriculum, Duff Elementary experienced an achievement turnaround, and its 2004 test scores in several subjects surpassed the state levels. There are more promising stories like this one. Surf over the following links to read more about Core Knowledge Foundation and its curriculum and to read the report.