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‘Age-appropriate teaching has no scientific basis’

ED Hirsch Jr, Nick Gibb’s favourite academic and the man credited as the inspiration for the national curriculum, argues that we are failing students by choosing received doctrine over proven research

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I was writing my new book, Why Knowledge Matters, when a controversy erupted over an early reading programme that I helped to develop called Core Knowledge Language Arts. It had been selected as the official early childhood reading programme of New York State; it was made available for free to New York schools and anybody else who wanted to use it. Such initiatives normally cost schools thousands of dollars. It also came with strong research backing its implementation – it had been shown to be outstandingly effective in a 20-school, three-year trial in New York City.

Despite the evidence of ...

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