Understanding academic-level texts requires a certain level of cultural literacy. If a group of people were to read one article about cats and one about the quantum entanglement theory, it is quite clear as to which article would be better comprehended among the group. Ignorance of a particular subject will inevitably lead to confusion and misunderstanding among readers. Best-selling author and educator E.D. Hirsch, Jr. believes that a shared cultural knowledge is crucial to be able to understand advanced, academic-level texts. However, creating this common culture vocabulary will undoubtedly be a challenge. Although it may be impossible for older generations to suddenly gain all the necessary knowledge about the hundreds of cultures in the world, it is certainly not too late for future generations to start developing immense cultural knowledge. It is imperative that schools begin teaching more diverse curriculum in order for students to become culturally literate on an array of topics. Integrating multicultural subject matter into public school curriculum ensures that students begin developing common cultural background knowledge, and they will be able to apply this knowledge in reading to better comprehend academic-level texts.
Having background knowledge when reading is vital, especially in an academic setting. If a student was told to read a passage about Buddhism and had no prior knowledge on the subject, that student would struggle to comprehend the passage because of the unfamiliar content. The student would have to find context clues, apply them to earlier parts of the text, and continue to go back and forth to grasp everything. Most writers assume that their audience has an un...
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...wrong. If people are more exposed to other cultures they could learn to appreciate and respect them, rather than judge them for being dissimilar. By starting to teach children in school about the diversity of the world, a nationwide, shared cultural knowledge will gradually develop. Understanding and accepting other cultures is the first step towards ending culture wars altogether.
E.D. Hirsch, Jr. knew exactly what he was talking about when he said that a shared cultural knowledge is necessary for understanding academic-level texts. It is also necessary for understanding much of the world in general. Though the nation may not have discovered this common culture yet, it may reach this point over time with enough effort and commitment. By embracing cultural diversity and expanding school curriculum, it is possible for cultural knowledge to be shared among everyone.
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