2021 discount The Knowledge Gap: The hidden cause of America's broken outlet online sale education system--and how to fix online it outlet sale

2021 discount The Knowledge Gap: The hidden cause of America's broken outlet online sale education system--and how to fix online it outlet sale

2021 discount The Knowledge Gap: The hidden cause of America's broken outlet online sale education system--and how to fix online it outlet sale

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The untold story of the root cause of America''s education crisis--and the seemingly endless cycle of multigenerational poverty.

It was only after years within the education reform movement that Natalie Wexler stumbled across a hidden explanation for our country''s frustrating lack of progress when it comes to providing every child with a quality education. The problem wasn''t one of the usual scapegoats: lazy teachers, shoddy facilities, lack of accountability. It was something no one was talking about: the elementary school curriculum''s intense focus on decontextualized reading comprehension "skills" at the expense of actual knowledge. In the tradition of Dale Russakoff''s The Prize and Dana Goldstein''s The Teacher Wars, Wexler brings together history, research, and compelling characters to pull back the curtain on this fundamental flaw in our education system--one that fellow reformers, journalists, and policymakers have long overlooked, and of which the general public, including many parents, remains unaware.

But The Knowledge Gap isn''t just a story of what schools have gotten so wrong--it also follows innovative educators who are in the process of shedding their deeply ingrained habits, and describes the rewards that have come along: students who are not only excited to learn but are also acquiring the knowledge and vocabulary that will enable them to succeed. If we truly want to fix our education system and unlock the potential of our neediest children, we have no choice but to pay attention.

Review

“Essential reading for teachers, education administrators, and policymakers alike.” — STARRED Library Journal

“Education journalist Wexler mounts a compelling critique of American elementary schools…. An informative analysis of elementary education that highlights pervasive problems.”— Kirkus Reviews

“There''s a huge gulf between what teachers believe about how to teach reading and what scientists have found—which is why so many students have continued to struggle despite their teachers'' often heroic efforts. The key to success, it turns out, is exactly the thing teachers have been taught to scorn most: knowledge. It''s far more important than the supposedly transferable comprehension ''skills'' they''re trained to focus on. This critical volume, in which Natalie Wexler deftly lays out the case for knowledge, should begin tipping the scales back toward what best serves students of every age and background.”— Doug Lemov, author of Teach Like a Champion 2.0: 62 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College; co-author of Reading Reconsidered: A Practical Guide to Rigorous Literacy Instruction

“For parents, teachers, and anyone who cares about the potential of education to brighten kids'' futures, reading The Knowledge Gap will be an eye-opening experience. Through vivid classroom scenes and stories of would-be reformers, Natalie Wexler exposes a crucial aspect of education that is often overlooked: In most American elementary schools, teachers are not given the training and support they need to provide deep, rich content—about history, social studies, science, language and the world around them. And students, especially vulnerable ones, suffer for it.”— Peg Tyre, author of The Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Children the Education They Deserve
 
“The knowledge gap is real, and its effects are profound. This book offers an accurate, engaging, and clear description of the problem and how to solve it.  It’s a must-read for educators, parents and policy makers.”— Dr. Judith C. Hochman, founder of The Writing Revolution; co-author, The Writing Revolution: A Guide to Advancing Thinking Through Writing in All Subjects and Grades

"Natalie Wexler has identified a critical factor that has gone missing in public education, and although it sounds counterintuitive, that factor too often is education—foundational knowledge—itself. For more than three decades, reformers and politicians have lashed teaching and learning to accountability and test results in the name of raising expectations for all.  The Knowledge Gap boldly argues that in the process, they have underestimated and lost track of what children, particularly in elementary and middle schools, can and must learn in order to achieve."— Dale Russakoff, author of The Prize: Who''s in Charge of America''s Schools?

“Natalie Wexler adopts multiple perspectives—the scientist, the teacher, the philanthropist, the historian, and others—to offer a comprehensive answer to the simple question ‘Why don’t American students read well?’ This book is smart, important, and a fascinating read.”— Daniel T. Willingham, author of The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads; professor of psychology, University of Virginia
 
“Using concrete and compelling examples, Natalie Wexler reveals that most American classrooms follow a misguided approach to teaching reading that is especially damaging to students from low-income families. But she also shows that when educators rely on materials backed by research, they can go a long way toward producing the educated citizens we need. For anyone concerned about educational equity and excellence, The Knowledge Gap provides a way to think about both the problem and solutions.”— Karin Chenoweth, author of Schools that Succeed: How Educators Marshal the Power of Systems for Improvement; creator of the ExtraOrdinary Districts podcast

"Natalie Wexler is a powerfully engaging writer, and  The Knowledge Gap is a timely and sobering investigation of what is broken in the nation''s education system. Artfully weaving together portraits of teachers and students with scientific findings on the learning process, Wexler thoughtfully explores the power of knowledge—and makes a strong case for how and why the nation should harness it to improve outcomes for all students."— Ulrich Boser, author of  Learn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, or How to Become an Expert in Just about Anything

“As a teacher and the leader of a state school system, I have seen the debilitating impact on a child of an education devoid of historical, cultural, and scientific knowledge—and the human potential unleashed when that knowledge is allowed to develop. Natalie Wexler is not the first to boldly raise this issue, but The Knowledge Gap may be the clearest and most cogent telling of a story not told often enough. As an industry, education is often ignorant of its own past and of how the present came to be. Masterfully capturing a complex tale, Wexler shows us that something is wrong, explains how it happened, and reminds us that it doesn’t have to be that way.”— John White, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education
 
“Using real world examples, Natalie Wexler convincingly affirms the primary responsibility of elementary schools to empower the most disadvantaged students with knowledge of the words and worlds that a society assumes is necessary for human flourishing. She makes a compelling case that depriving students of this core knowledge in the name of teaching ‘skills and strategies’ or embracing the latest educational fads only exacerbates their disadvantage. The Knowledge Gap is a must read for educators genuinely interested in achieving better outcomes for kids.”— Ian Rowe, Chief Executive Officer, Public Prep Network

About the Author

Natalie Wexler is an education journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and other publications. She is a senior contributor to Forbes.com and the coauthor, with Judith C. Hochman, of The Writing Revolution: A Guide to Advancing Thinking Through Writing in All Subjects and Grades. Before turning to education, Wexler worked as a freelance writer and essayist on a variety of topics, as well as a lawyer and a legal historian.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

On a sunny November morning in 2016, Gaby Arredondo is try­ing to initiate twenty first-graders into the mysteries of reading.

Today’s particular mystery is captions. Ms. Arredondo recently gave a test that asked her students to identify a caption, and—even though she had spent fifteen minutes teaching the concept—many chose the ti­tle of the passage instead. Maybe they were confused because the cap­tions she had taught as examples were all at the top of the page, like a title, whereas the caption on the test appeared under the picture. Her goal today is to show her students that what makes something a caption isn’t where it appears on the page or what it looks like but what it does: it’s a label that describes a picture.

“What is a caption?” Ms. Arredondo begins brightly to the first group of five students gathered before her at a semicircular table. As she speaks, she writes caption on a whiteboard next to her chair. No one answers. Ms. Arredondo writes a second word: label.

“It’s a label,” volunteers one girl.

“What kind of a label?” Ms. Arredondo prods.

A boy chimes in: “It’s a label that describes things.”

“What kinds of things? Does it tell us the author or the title?”

 “It tells us the author and the title,” the boy repeats dutifully.

“No,” Ms. Arredondo says. “It tells us about the picture.

She shows them a photo from a book called Mothers, which has the words daughters, mother, and son superimposed in the appropriate spots. “So, what is a caption?”

“Words?” a girl named Nevaeh ventures.

The Washington, D.C., charter school where Ms. Arredondo teaches, Star Academy, has a good reputation and has benefited from both philan­thropic and government funding. Located in a high-poverty African American community, the school has a staff that includes a full-time oc­cupational therapist, two speech-and-language therapists, and two school psychologists—critical resources, considering that 17 percent of the stu­dents need special education services and all families are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced school meals.

And Ms. Arredondo, in her second year of teaching, is a highly valued faculty member. She graduated from Princeton University, the first in her working-class family to go to college—an achievement that was possible, she feels, only because she managed to get into a selective public high school. She became a teacher in hopes of helping other kids transform their circumstances through education.

During the months I’ve been observing Ms. Arredondo’s class, I’ve seen that she’s skilled at classroom management techniques, firm when she needs to be but also warm enough to establish bonds with her students. She’s hardworking, dedicated, and patient with these often rambunctious kids.

But after Nevaeh suggests that caption just means words, Ms. Arre­dondo’s patience seems to be fraying. She starts pointing to the text on the page opposite the photo, asking, “Is this a caption? . . . Is this a cap­tion? . . . Is this a caption?” The kids repeatedly answer, “No.”

“It’s not just any word,” she says. “The words describe what? I’m a little upset right now, because I’ve said it.”

“A label?” one of the kids offers again.

“What does the caption tell us?” Ms. Arredondo says more softly.

“About the pictures,” a girl says at last.

 “The pictures,” Ms. Arredondo echoes.

The kids in the next group keep trying to pull the discussion away from the abstract nature of a caption and toward the concrete. One of the nonfiction books that Ms. Arredondo is holding up is about sharks, with vivid photos that pique the children’s curiosity—especially one showing a shark that has half-swallowed what the caption at the side simply iden­tifies as a “sea animal.”

“Oooh!” the students cry out. “What’s he eating? Oh my God! Is it a fish?”

“If you were going to write a caption on this page, what would you write?” Ms. Arredondo asks. The students don’t answer.

Next, she shows them a picture of a planet that the students decide is the moon. They point to the title, the subheading—anything but the cap­tion. Finally, she points to the caption herself and reads it aloud: “Now you can take a trip to Mars without ever leaving Earth.”

“Right there!” she exclaims. “That’s our caption. This isn’t the moon! It’s Mars! So we have to read the caption so we know what the picture is about!”

The kids aren’t buying it. “It’s the moon,” one student declares.

“I thought Mars was red,” a girl says skeptically. The photo is in black and white.

Ms. Arredondo doesn’t respond. It’s time to move on to the culminating activity she has planned: students will write their own captions. She shows them a funny photo of a group of goats perched on the branches of a tree, like absurd four-legged birds. I find myself wondering why goats would be up in a tree, but the students don’t ask, and Ms. Arredondo doesn’t volun­teer an explanation. The point of this lesson isn’t to learn about tree-climbing goats—or sharks or planets. It’s to learn about captions.

Ms. Arredondo goes off to check on the students who are working independently elsewhere in the classroom while the kids at the table write a variety of captions on Post-it notes, some legible and some not. One boy colors with markers. Another student writes riog. Two boys who are sitting next to each other both write goll. When I ask one of them what his caption says, he tells me it says giggles.

But when Ms. Arredondo comes back, the boy says the word is sup­posed to be goat. When another student objects that he hasn’t spelled the word right, Ms. Arredondo answers calmly, “That’s okay. That’s how he spells goat.” Her response reflects prevailing views on the best way to handle spelling errors in the early-elementary grades: she doesn’t want to get sidetracked into a spelling lesson, and she doesn’t want her stu­dents to lose confidence about writing down their ideas.

Ms. Arredondo sticks one of the Post-its with the word goll under the photograph of the tree-climbing goats, saying, “That tells us more about this picture.”

While Ms. Arredondo’s approach might seem peculiar, it’s the way she and virtually all other elementary teachers in the United States have been trained. If she’s having a hard time engaging her students, it’s not because she’s a bad teacher. In many ways, she does an excellent job.

The theory that has shaped the American approach to elementary education goes like this: Reading—a term used to encompass not just matching letters to sounds but also comprehension—is a set of skills that can be taught completely disconnected from content. It doesn’t re­ally matter what students are reading. Teach them to identify captions in a simple text—or find the main idea, or make inferences, or any one of a number of other skills—and eventually they’ll be able to grasp the meaning of any text put in front of them.

And, the argument goes, through the third grade, children need to spend their time “learning to read” before they can progress to “reading to learn.” Social studies and science can wait; history is too abstract for their young minds and should wait. In the early years, the focus must be on the reading skills that will equip students to acquire knowledge about the world—later.

It’s not surprising, then, that reading has long dominated the elemen­tary curriculum. As far back as 1977, early-elementary teachers were spending more than twice as much time on reading as on science and social studies combined. Even in the upper-elementary grades, when students have presumably already acquired basic reading skills, teachers spent twice as much time on reading as on either science or social studies alone.

That focus only intensified after Congress passed the No Child Left Behind legislation in 2001. NCLB required annual reading and math tests in grades three through eight and once in high school—and threat­ened significant consequences if schools failed to get 100 percent of their students to proficiency by 2014, a goal that was widely recognized as im­possible to meet. As a result, the amount of time schools spent on reading and math grew, while time spent on other subjects—particularly social studies—correspondingly decreased.

By 2012, early-elementary teachers reported spending an average of only sixteen minutes a day on social studies and nineteen on science—figures that, because they are self-reported, may well be overestimates. The elementary “literacy block,” largely focused on reading, now con­sumes anywhere from ninety minutes to three hours each day. And teach­ers have shaped their reading instruction in ways they believe will prepare their students to do well on standardized tests, which aim to assess com­prehension skills. The rest of the day is devoted mostly to math.

The schedule may allot half an hour or forty-five minutes to social studies or science a few times a week, usually at the end of the day, when students are tired: a simple science experiment or a read-aloud about George Washington or Abraham Lincoln before Presidents’ Day. (Strug­gling readers are unlikely to get even that, because they’re often pulled from social studies and science to get extra help.) In any event—and es­pecially when the same teacher is responsible for teaching all subjects, as is usually the case—often that time ends up also being spent on reading or math.
The state-mandated tests each spring represent only a small fraction of the time consumed by related activities. Up to a quarter of the school year is spent preparing for tests, taking practice tests, and taking “bench­mark” tests designed to predict performance at the end of the year.
Opposition to testing began brewing soon after the passage of No Child Left Behind, but it reached a fever pitch after most states adopted the Common Core starting in 2010. The new tests created to align with those academic standards were longer and significantly tougher. Across the country, especially in affluent suburban districts, many par­ents joined an “opt-out” movement. Even then-Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, whom many blamed for the orgy of testing, acknowl­edged that the situation had gotten out of hand. In 2015, Congress re­placed NCLB with the Every Student Succeeds Act, which attaches fewer consequences to low scores. States are still required to give annual read­ing and math exams and report the results, however, and there is little evidence they’re reducing either the amount of testing or the impor­tance placed on it.

To be sure, there are compelling arguments in favor of testing. No Child Left Behind required that schools report scores for various subgroups—including minority and low-income students—which brought to light seri­ous and long-hidden inequities. And reading tests are seen as the only way to hold schools accountable for giving children the skills they’ll need to learn history, science, and other subjects later on. Students who aren’t read­ing on grade level by third grade are four times less likely to graduate from high school. If the child is poor, the odds are even worse.
Still, an overwhelming majority of teachers deplore the emphasis on testing and the consequent narrowing of the curriculum. Many would prefer to spend more time on social studies and science, and they know their students would as well. As Ms. Arredondo observed, “They love learning about things they don’t know anything about.”

But she feels that the time spent on reading is necessary. Teaching the concept of captions, she told me, was an important first step in helping her students understand the difference between fiction, which generally doesn’t have captions, and nonfiction. Captions also provide informa­tion in a more manageable format than lengthy paragraphs, which struggling readers like her students may find overwhelming.

Some teachers question the whole idea of trying to teach reading comprehension as a set of discrete skills. For most, though, it’s simply the water they’ve been swimming in, so universal and taken for granted they don’t question or even notice it. It’s not about test scores; it’s just the way to teach kids to read. And if kids don’t seem to be getting it, the solution is to double down, through middle school, if necessary.

But there’s a conundrum at the heart of these efforts: despite many hours of practice and an enormous expenditure of resources, American students’ reading abilities have shown little improvement over more than twenty years, with about two-thirds of students consistently scor­ing below the “proficient” level. Most fourth-graders aren’t actually ready to progress from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Writing scores are even worse: about three-quarters of eighth-and twelfth-graders score below proficient. International tests have shown that our literacy levels are falling, for both children and adults.

“We seem to be declining as other systems improve,” a federal official who oversees the administration of international tests has observed. “There is a lot to be concerned about.”

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Top reviews from the United States

Emily
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A must read for anyone with a stake in education
Reviewed in the United States on August 9, 2019
I read this book as a parent of young elementary students. Over the last several years, I''ve read Daniel Willingham''s and E.D. Hirsch, Jr.''s books and articles on reading and the importance of a content rich curriculum in the early grades. I''ve also read the book Natalie... See more
I read this book as a parent of young elementary students. Over the last several years, I''ve read Daniel Willingham''s and E.D. Hirsch, Jr.''s books and articles on reading and the importance of a content rich curriculum in the early grades. I''ve also read the book Natalie Wexler''s co-authored, The Writing Revolution. So I was very eager to get my hands on this book as soon as it came out!

Essentially, the majority of US elementary schools use language arts curriculum that attempts to teach vague "skills" like "finding a main idea," "finding supporting evidence" or "drawing conclusion" from texts. Wexler summarizes the substantial evidence showing that reading comprehension depends on a person''s background knowledge on the subject. Students from advantaged backgrounds will pick up some background knowledge at home, topics related to history, geography, science. But these subjects have been pushed out of elementary schools to make more time for reading instruction (for testing purposes). Children from disadvantaged homes suffer disproportionately with this system. It is truly a matter of social justice.

Unlike Hirsch''s Why Knowledge Matters, this book is written in a popular style and is highly readable. For someone who has followed this problem, there will be some information that feels repetitive, such as explanations of the reading wars or the baseball study. However, for someone new to this topic, it will thoroughly summarize how and why curriculum in elementary schools ended up focusing on "skills" instead of content.

I was particularly interested in the two classrooms Wexler followed through an entire school year--one following a typical skills-based curriculum, the other using Core Knowledge''s content rich curriculum. The lessons in the typical classroom were frustrating and confusing to an adult; in the content classroom kids were enthusiastically absorbing new material and demonstrating their understanding. I think it is important to note that Wexler is very respectful of all teachers, even when she disagrees with their methods. She is very aware that the choice of curriculum is out of the hands of a single teacher or even a single school.

Finally, what can be done? The solution is clear, but how to do it is not. District by district or school by school change to a content rich curriculum like Core Knowledge or Wit and Wisdom. Get this book into the right hands. For parents, if you can''t do that, buy books in the What Your 1st Grader needs to Know series. Or you can do what I do: use Core Knowledge''s free curriculum to homeschool.
58 people found this helpful
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Educator
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An decent book but the title overpromises
Reviewed in the United States on October 10, 2019
This book is well written and author Natalie Wexler seems to know her stuff even though she is a journalist rather than an education expert. Her online bio does not mention her having ever run a classroom. On the one hand, 60 pages in I absolutely loved this book as I found... See more
This book is well written and author Natalie Wexler seems to know her stuff even though she is a journalist rather than an education expert. Her online bio does not mention her having ever run a classroom. On the one hand, 60 pages in I absolutely loved this book as I found it substantive and persuasive. On the other hand, the rest of the book didn''t add anything. In my opinion this could and should have been a briefer read.

But my biggest critique is that the book''s subtitle, "The Hidden Cause of America''s Broken Education System and How to Fix It," is a raging overpromise. Our broken education system has a complex multitude of causes. The method by which low-income students are taught to read in elementary school -- while important -- is only one of them.

For a full analysis of what''s wrong with America''s public schools and how to fix them, a more thoughtful and comprehensive read is "Save Our Schools...and America too" by Stephen Weintraub, who is a former management consultant turned award-winning high school teacher. His book delivers on Wexler''s failed promise. I read them the same week and "Save Our Schools" won hands-down.
46 people found this helpful
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Robert N. Britcher
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
My Reading Comprehension is Poor
Reviewed in the United States on September 3, 2019
I cannot give a reasonable summary of this book because I do not understand the basics; for example, basal readers, core programs, and phonics. This is a book for experts in education: how to teach children to think, read, write, and understand what they are being taught,... See more
I cannot give a reasonable summary of this book because I do not understand the basics; for example, basal readers, core programs, and phonics. This is a book for experts in education: how to teach children to think, read, write, and understand what they are being taught, and then apply that to their real world. What a tall order! I now appreciate the difficulty inherent in the theory and practice of education. I have a working knowledge of genetics, chemistry, calculus, among other subjects, and have taught engineering at Johns Hopkins for over 30 years, many concurrent with a career in IBM. Nevertheless, I must say that I am lost when it comes to educating educators who educate children. The complexity of the issues is somewhat overwhelming, and the author does not succeed in untangling it. I am, however, grateful that my school years are behind me. So, after reading this book, I feel that joy at least. How did I learn? I have no idea. What has been the relationship between texts, my background, my teachers, my memory and language facilities, and my reasoning ability? I have no idea. The works of Jacques Derrida made similar demands on me, although I found his ideas more focused than the output of the Columbia Teachers College and the beliefs and concepts of the hundreds of other people and institutions discussed in this book.
27 people found this helpful
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MES0728
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Simplifies issues, but still a thorough work
Reviewed in the United States on May 14, 2020
The author lays out a strong case for content-based education. Knowing about a multitude of topics helps readers understand texts and it builds a foundation for discipline-specific subjects in middle and high school. I agree with her points and often get frustrated with... See more
The author lays out a strong case for content-based education. Knowing about a multitude of topics helps readers understand texts and it builds a foundation for discipline-specific subjects in middle and high school. I agree with her points and often get frustrated with primary grade lessons that focus on obscure skills instead of actually learning anything of substance. I also agree with her focus on reading aloud, discussing texts, and writing about what you learned. The author nicely explains some of the recent history of reading and writing instruction.

My one big issue with this book is her simplification of the gap in test scores based on income and race. She seems to believe that simply creating content-based curriculum will level out the playing field. She brushes aside the devastating effects of poverty and racism in all forms. Content focused curriculum has its merits, but it’s not a magic wand.
15 people found this helpful
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TiWhi
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The importance of knowledge has been overlooked
Reviewed in the United States on August 12, 2019
What I learned: Content knowledge can not take the backseat Foundational skills and knowledge development must occur simultaneously Teaching content is teaching reading...Teachers can help struggling readers by helping them build background knowledge on a... See more
What I learned:
Content knowledge can not take the backseat
Foundational skills and knowledge development must occur simultaneously
Teaching content is teaching reading...Teachers can help struggling readers by helping them build background knowledge on a variety of topics
Public schools can no longer ignore the fact that high quality education must integrate knowledge with reading skills, especially in the early grades
22 people found this helpful
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A reader from Maplewood
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A convincing and powerful argument for knowledge and content
Reviewed in the United States on August 25, 2019
A very well written book. Describes real scenes from observed classrooms and leads us right into the center of the debate. it makes a very persuasive argument for content. The author is a journalist, but surprisingly well informed about the scientific debates about the role... See more
A very well written book. Describes real scenes from observed classrooms and leads us right into the center of the debate. it makes a very persuasive argument for content. The author is a journalist, but surprisingly well informed about the scientific debates about the role of knowledge vs skills. Knowledge is the key! Curriculum is the key. When we forget this simple truth, disaster happens.
A great read for teachers, principals, parents, and everybody interested in serious debates on education.
9 people found this helpful
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Karen Oneil
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A highly readable, comprehensive, and persuasive analysis of literacy instruction
Reviewed in the United States on October 17, 2019
As a long time teacher who has come only lately to urban education, I have been puzzled about why improving reading comprehension remains such an intractable problem, particularly in high poverty schools. Surely it is not lack of attention, nor of creative thought nor of... See more
As a long time teacher who has come only lately to urban education, I have been puzzled about why improving reading comprehension remains such an intractable problem, particularly in high poverty schools. Surely it is not lack of attention, nor of creative thought nor of ample resources that can explain why our progress has been so uneven. Wexler''s book offers an eye opening account of the limitations of our current approach to reading instruction and a persuasive case for how we might improve it. The book begins with carefully observed and beautifully described accounts of actual classroom instruction in reading. It continues with meticulously researched analysis of the history of reading instruction and the pedagogy and cultural influences that have led to our current approach. It goes on to make a highly persuasive case for teaching reading as part of a stimulating, content rich curriculum, one which will not only make our students better readers and writers, but will provide them the background knowledge that will assure their success as they continue their education. Wexler brings unique skills to this undertaking. As a journalist, she is a superb writer, whose accounts of children and teachers are charming and perceptive. As an education researcher, she provides comprehensive context for each of her assertions, and as a lawyer she makes a most persuasive case for how we can do dramatically better for our students.
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Mike the Geology Teacher
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Yes we stopped teaching knowledge
Reviewed in the United States on November 6, 2020
I routinely call on my high school students to read bell work questions in my Science class. Recently I''ve been paying close attention to whether or not I believe a student knows a particular word. Among the words my students didn''t know this week are... inverse,... See more
I routinely call on my high school students to read bell work questions in my Science class. Recently I''ve been paying close attention to whether or not I believe a student knows a particular word.

Among the words my students didn''t know this week are... inverse, proportional, percent, plummet, resistance, sphere, volume...and that''s just this week. You can forget about them having much in the way of internalized understanding of science or history. It''s truly frustrating that so many students don''t have much in the way of knowledge to build on.

But how, or why, should they know these things? As Natalie Wexler points out, they haven''t been taught the basic ideas of science, history or culture that would be expected. The educational machine that I''ve been a minor cog in for the last 23 years has consistently de-emphasized knowledge when compared with reading comprehension, critical thinking and ...most importantly...group work. A couple years ago an assistant superintendent said to a group of us that it didn''t matter if a student knew what photosynthesis was, because he could look it up in Google. That''s hardly a new attitude. A century ago, progressive educators might have said that it didn''t matter if a kid knew what sedimentary rock was because he could go to the library and look it up. The problem is that we have so de-emphasized knowledge that many adults and near adults don''t know enough to be aware of what they don''t know. They wouldn''t know where to start looking up photosynthesis in Google, and if they found it they might lack the vocabulary needed to understand the definition on anything but the most superficial level.

While I wouldn''t say that Wexler''s The Knowledge Gap is as concise an indictment of our institutional bias against knowledge as E.D. Hirsch''s Why Knowledge Matters, it''s still an important contribution to the struggle for better schools.
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S Singhal
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Important ideas slightly belaboured
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 1, 2020
This book contains an essential idea for all educators, which it presents in a clear and compelling manner. In particular, it explores the implementation challenges with detailed insight. My only quibble is that it takes rather too long and becomes somewhat repetitive after...See more
This book contains an essential idea for all educators, which it presents in a clear and compelling manner. In particular, it explores the implementation challenges with detailed insight. My only quibble is that it takes rather too long and becomes somewhat repetitive after a point.
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