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Cultural Literacy and Core Knowledge/Skills

Cultural literacy is shorthand for a defined body of shared knowledge, skills, and sensibilities that reflect the values, attitudes, and tastes of a dominant culture. Proponents of cultural literacy argue that if all members of a community can activate a common reference system, they will be able to communicate more successfully with one another, be more effective political participants, prevent grievous repetitions of history, avoid reinventing the wheel, and foster humanistic ideals through exposure to the best, most beautiful, and intelligent works of mankind. Altogether, cultural literacy is seen as laying the essential groundwork for advanced education and critical thinking. This conception of the humanistic and cultural benefits of general education is a legacy of the 19th-century British poet and thinker Matthew Arnold. This entry ...

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