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The Important Role of Cultural Literacy and Education

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    To writers, education is an important factor. Being well educated helps to communicate and associate with other people or peers. Cultural Literacy by E. D. Hirsch’s and Literacies of Power by Donaldo Macedo’s view points in being literate are important. The means of how to be educated differs between E. D. Hirsch, who favors Western Culture, and Donaldo Macedo, who favors the underlying causes to get the truth and nothing but the whole truth out. Donaldo Macedo explains the reason why E. D. Hirsch’s Cultural Literacy is not right for us.

    Hirsch’s aim is to enhance the literacy of children, have mature literacy for all the citizens and hopes to contribute to making that information the possession of all Americans. Hirsch believes all of this can be accomplished through Western Culture and background information. Basically Hirsch is saying our performance level on how we interact needs to increase. We need to learn the same things, have common and basic knowledge to help us communicate efficiently with one another. Macedo on the other hand focuses on oppression, racism and multiculturalism.

    He also points out what Western Culture teachings would do to us. Macedo’s goal is to inform everyone about the truth and expose the lies that humans were not taught. According to Macedo, if we learn just the same things, we wouldn’t be able to know both sides, we would just learn one side and every story has two sides. It’s like when people get into fights both party sides differs in why the fight started. Both have different ideas but the common goal; to fix the educational system people learn, to increase literate rates, and help citizens communicate with eachother.

    Why is literacy so important? According to Hirsch some of the simple reasons which consists of the need to fill out forms or get a good job, other complex reasons may include the cooperation of many people with different specialties in different places. If communication fails so does the ability to comprehend with literacy. Hirsch wants everyone to be culturally literate, to gain information that all competent readers should posses. Hirsch is pushing for everyone to have background knowledge; he gives specific examples of people not knowing Thomas Jefferson or the Declaration of Independence.

    Hirsch wants the change to begin as early as elementary school. If people don’t know simple background knowledge of their own culture how can they possibly know universal culture? Hirsh states, “It is not a WASP (White Angle Saxon Protestant) culture; it doesn’t belong to any group. It is essentially and constantly changing and it is open. Cultural literacy is even more important in the social sphere. The aim of universal literacy has never been a socially neutral mission. ” (Page 11) Macedo disagrees, he believes the objective of a colonial education is de – skilling the teachers and students, to reduce them.

    Macedo also believes the educational system used now in United States is not a system to encourage independent thought and critical thinking. Macedo states, “Our colonial literacy model is designed to domesticate in order to enable the “manufacture of consent. ” (Page 36) “Western Culture hegemony and the barbarism Western cultures committed against other cultural groups in the name of “civilizing” “the barbaric” other. ” (Page 39) Macedo gave an example using the Vietnam War he states, United States started the war which resulted in the killing of women, children, and the elderly.

    Macedo also used the last invasion of Panama saying that is wasn’t a coincidence that it was named “Operation Just Cause” Macedo states, “The latter was an invasion that killed thousands of innocent victims in order to arrest a head of state – a thug created and supported by the U. S. government as a paid CIA informant who was considered “friendly” until he began to act too independently for our “democratic” taste. The arrest of a head of state through an invasion also violated the same international laws we claimed to protect during the Gulf War. ” (Page 39) What does the school need to do?

    According to Macedo schools need to eliminate the ideology of the Western Culture that E. D. Hirsch proposes. Macedo calls the Western Culture the web of lies which E. D. Hirsch states is the background information needed for educational systems to prosper. By proposing Western Culture, Macedo believes it enables students to be robbed of the critical tools to understand the “veil behind which human beings can hide their own ‘fallen existence’ their trivialization, and their adaptation. ” (Page 40) Hirsch deems it necessary for children to learn a common basis for communication and many countries knows the importance of the common basis.

    Macedo on the other hand believes that once the citizens are adapted to multiculturalism they would be rewarded with the knowledge of knowing the lies, the ones they ignored, and then that’s when they will live in reality. E. D. Hirsch states if the citizens can’t even know common facts or basic concepts how can they process or even begin to know what the true reality even is, Hirsch ideology should somewhat fix that and reality will set in place. Will these two authors ever been content with the educational system that will be revised, and set for the future?

    As of now multiculturalism and Western culture has never been a neutral topic. Many authors are in debate as to what is right, either way the aim or the goal is to make our educational system better and help increase the amount of literate citizen so we can all communicate with each other. In the end it is to help our future educational systems from more dropouts. Hirsch, E. D. Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987. Print. Macedo, Donaldo P. Literacies of Power: What Americans Are Not Allowed to Know. Boulder: Westview, 1994. Print.

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