“Certain things then follow from that”: Notes on ED Hirsch’s Policy Exchange lecture

The Wing to Heaven

On Thursday evening I had the privilege of hearing ED Hirsch give the Policy Exchange education lecture.  Hirsch in person was much like Hirsch the author: self-effacing, erudite, quietly compelling and wryly humorous.  He spoke about what the best kind of early education should look like, and stressed the egalitarian effect of teaching knowledge to young children. In order to become good readers, children have to develop a large vocabulary and a lot of knowledge about the world, and both vocabulary and background knowledge are ‘plants of slow growth’. That’s why it’s so important to start in the early years. We also cannot rely on search engines to teach pupils this vital knowledge, because “Google is not an equal opportunity fact-finder”: to look something up on the internet requires knowledge to begin with.

One of the most interesting moments came near the end of the lecture, when in response to…

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