I’m almost finished with this book and anxious to discuss it with others. I’m wondering if anyone has read this? As much as any education book I’ve ever read, this one really challenges some of my own philosophy around teaching and sort of makes me look at education from an entirely different lens than I am used to.
I became interested in this book after reading and listening to Emily Hanford’s reporting over the last year, which has detailed the ways that Balanced Literacy instruction in elementary schools has largely failed. (In case you missed it: “At A Loss For Words: How a flawed idea is teaching millions of kids to be poor readers.”) Essentially, we’ve misunderstood reading comprehension to be ‘set of skills’ when in fact cognitive science has repeatedly demonstrated that reading comprehension is entirely about background knowledge. In other words, when one reads a passage, their understanding of that passage is dependent on their knowledge of the topic at hand, not their ability to ‘find the main idea’ or ‘make inferences.’
The Knowledge Gap identifies ‘content-agnostic’ teaching that emphasizes skills and strategies over historical knowledge as the central problem in our education system. It points to the need for districts & states to adopt knowledge-rich curriculum and for teacher training and coaching to be primarily organized around content, not ‘skills and strategies.’ This has really been something to digest, for me, but the case made in the book is extremely compelling. I’d love some discussion if anyone else has read this!