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Practice in Argument
————Responding to a Controversial Statement————

Read the following selection from E.D. Hirsch's Cultural Literacy and respond.  Either agree or disagree with what he has to say and offer at least three reasons to back up your viewpoint.

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I have not yet found one single student in Los Angeles, in either college or high school, who could tell me the years when World War II was fought.  Nor have I found one who could tell me the years when World War I was fought.  Nor have I found one who knew when the American Civil War was fought.  Only two could approximately identify Thomas Jefferson.  Only one could place the date of the Declaration of Independence.  None could name even one of the first ten amendments to the Constitution or connect them with the Bill of Rights.

On and on it went.  On and on it goes.  I have mixed up episodes of ignorance of fact with ignorance of concept because it seems to me that here is a connection.  The kids I saw (and there may be lots of others who are different) are not mentally prepared to continue the society because they basically do not understand the society well enough to value it.  (6-7)

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Assignment:
These are serious charges about the "illiteracy" of our generation.  How do you answer Hirsch's charges?  Do you agree or disagree with Hirsch?  Offer at least three reasons to back up your viewpoint.  Write at least 300 words on your response to Hirsch.  Then e-mail your response to me with the word count noted.

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Answers to Hirsch's questions are listed for those who are curious: