From Publishers Weekly
In this revised edition, Hirsch (retired English professor and author of Cultural Literacy) presents the basic backbone of a fourth grade curriculum in language arts, history and geography, visual arts, music, math and science. The content reaches far, mixing the standard signposts of an elementary education with a new focus on understanding the world beyond American shores. In the literature section, for example, adaptations of the legend of King Arthur, Treasure Island and Rip Van Winkle are enriched by stories from around the globe. The visual arts and geography and history sections have a global accent. Students cover American and European history as well as that of Chinese dynasties, African kingdoms and the rise of Islam; in art, they examine everything from Medieval architecture to the Taj Mahal, and from Chinese silk paintings to Leutzes Washington Crossing the Delaware. The music section emphasizes both music-making and appreciation of masters like Mozart, Haydn and Handel, while the science and math chapters skirt the "joyless, soul-killing drudgery" of memorization and timed drills in favor of forward-looking lessons on basic geometry, meteorology and geology. While Hirsch offers expansive guidelines for parents and teachers in each subject, he acknowledges that this is not comprehensive and should be supplemented with additional lessons and materials. Overall though, this compendium sketches a coherent and creative curriculum that students and parents will find especially engaging in this era of education reform. Color illustrations not seen by PW.
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