E.D. Hirsch, Why Knowledge Matters


For me, the most interesting chapter in this book is ‘The Educational Fall of France’.  Prior to 1989 France had a centralised educational system, and a national curriculum which specified what students should be taught and when.  It also had highly effective schools.  No other country in Europe could boast of higher levels of ‘achievement [or] equity’.  But in 1989, with the introduction of the Loi Jospin (the Jospin Law), all of this was to change.  The educational system was decentralised and the specific national curriculum of the past replaced by a ‘platform’ – a brief digest of ‘common national standards’.  The purpose of all this was to create a child centred curriculum.  The data suggest that all of this was a horrible mistake, and there is an extensive supply of data.  Every ten years, the French Ministry of Education collects extensive information on the test scores achieved by 10…

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