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The Ivy Bookshop welcomes Natalie Wexler to discuss her new book The Knowledge Gap.
Interweaving research and on-the-ground reporting , Natalie Wexler’s The Knowledge Gap reveals that the biggest challenges to narrowing the test score gap between low-income students and their wealthier counterparts is found in elementary schools, where teachers spend hours every week drilling students in supposed reading comprehension skills, giving little focus to what material the students are actually learning.
However, this flies in the face of how scientists say students learn. Reading comprehension is about topic knowledge, not decontextualized “skills” like finding the main idea. To help students succeed, schools should be expanding their knowledge by immersing them in history, science, and the arts—the opposite of current curriculum that focuses on reading and math in an effort to boost scores, especially in high-poverty schools. Kids with more educated, and generally wealthier, parents have opportunities to gain knowledge at home. Poorer students, typically students of color, are not so lucky. This lack of access to subject knowledge perpetuates academic failure and generational poverty.
Thankfully, The Knowledge Gap also shows us how we can right this ship, as demonstrated by knowledge-focused schools Natalie shadowed during her research. By consistently incorporating curriculum and material to broaden students’ knowledge and vocabulary, schools can guide students towards the academic success that grant money and policy reform alone have failed to create.
Natalie Wexler is an education journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and other publications. She is a senior contributor to Forbes.com and the coauthor, with Judith C. Hochman, of The Writing Revolution: A Guide to Advancing Thinking Through Writing in All Subjects and Grades. Before turning to education, Wexler worked as a freelance writer and essayist on a variety of topics, as well as a lawyer and a legal historian.
TIME & DATE
Tuesday, September 10, 2019 - 7:00pm