A popular reform movement with the moniker "cultural literacy" has been proposed (and widely published) by E.D.Hirsch, Jr. and collegues. Its approach maintains that for one to be well educated, one must own certain information or facts about our world, i.e., be "culturally literate". His premises (from his 1987 book, Cultural Literacy ) are: .
• In an anthropological perspective, the basic goal of education is acculturation, the transmission to our children of the specific information shared by the adults of the group or polis. .
• literate culture has become the common currency for social and economic exchange in our democracy, and is the only available ticket to full citizenship. Membership is automatic if one learns the background information and the linguistic conventions that are needed to read, write, and speak effectively. .
• Cultural literacy constitutes the only sure avenue of opportunity for disadvantaged children. .
• Mature literact alone enables the tower to be built, the business to be well managed, and the airplane to fly without crashing. .
To be able to function and prosper in society, one must possess the background knowledge that literate writers and speakers assume their audiences already share. Those who know it are culturally literate; the opportunities of a free society are open to them. Schools that neglect to impart this core knowledge leave their students seriously deprived and our democracy weakened.
One can think of the school curriculum as consisting of two complementary parts, which might be called the extensive curriculum and the intensive curriculum. The content of the extensive curriculum is traditional literate knowledge, the information, attitudes, and assumptions that literate Americans share "cultural literacy. Of course, this curriculum should be taught not just as a series of terms, or list of words, but as a vivid system of shared associations.