Knowledge Builds On Knowledge
The Core Knowledge Sequence movement is an educational reform based on the premise that a grade-by-grade core of common learning is necessary to ensure a sound and fair education. Simply put, knowledge builds on knowledge. The more you know, the more you are able to learn. The movement was started by Dr. E. D. Hirsch, Jr., author of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and The Schools We Need, and is based on a large body of research in cognitive psychology, as well as a careful examination of several of the world’s fairest and most effective school systems. Due to the completeness and rigor of the curriculum, students are able to achieve the most important goals for education — greater reading comprehension, the ability to think critically and solve problems, and higher test scores.
Core Knowledge Is...
Many people will argue that knowledge is changing so fast that what students learn today will soon be outdated. While current events and technology are constantly changing, there is nevertheless a body of lasting knowledge that should form the core of a kindergarten through eighth grade curriculum. This base of solid knowledge includes, for example, the basic principles of constitutional government, important events of world history, essential elements of mathematics and of oral and written expression, widely acknowledged masterpieces of art and music, and stories and poems passed down from generation to generation.
Knowledge builds on knowledge. Children learn new knowledge by building on what they already know. A curriculum that clearly defines the knowledge and skills required to participate in each successive grade can be excellent and fair for all students. For this reason, the Core Knowledge curriculum provides a clear outline of content to be learned grade by grade. This sequential building of knowledge not only helps ensure that children enter each new grade ready to learn, but also helps prevent the many repetitions and gaps that characterize much current schooling (repeated units, for example, on pioneer days or the rain forest, but little or no attention to the Bill of Rights, or to adding fractions with unlike denominators).
A traditional state or district curriculum states, “Students will demonstrate knowledge of people, events, ideas, and movements that contributed to the development of the United States.” But which people and events? What ideas and movements? In contrast, the Core Knowledge Sequence is distinguished by its specificity. By clearly outlining important knowledge in language arts, history and geography, math, science, and the fine arts, the Core Knowledge Sequence presents a practical answer to the question, “What do our children need to know?”
Literacy depends on shared knowledge. To be literate means, in part, is to be familiar with a broad range of knowledge taken for granted by speakers and writers. For example, when sportscasters refer to an upset victory as “David knocking off Goliath,” or when reporters refer to a “threatened presidential veto,” they are assuming that their audience shares common knowledge. One goal of the Core Knowledge Foundation is to provide all children, regardless of background, with the shared knowledge they need to be included in our national literate culture.
DaVinci Academy aligns Core Knowledge Sequence with current Minnesota State Standards. An overview of Core Knowledge topics covered by grade can be viewed by downloading the “At a Glance” documents below.