Core Knowledge founder and ed reform pioneer E.D. Hirsch, Jr. turns 80 today. In honor of the occasion, the Core Knowledge blog asked a few friends to participate in something of an electronic surprise party. Join us as we raise a glass to an icon, a visionary, a fearless original and a great guy.
Happy 80th to a real gentleman and to a courageous pioneer and leader who has transformed the way we think about education. I can’t even begin to tell you how much your brilliant work and your persistence to infuse Core Knowledge principles into the business of teaching kids has taught me about quality thinking and inspired me to persist and work harder. Your vision and work is truly a gift to this country and I want to thank you for that.
Fortunate I’ve been to have you as a colleague. I much enjoyed our peripatetic walks at Stanford discussing philosophy and psychology including how Johann Friedrich Herbart’s “apperceptive mass” anticipated modern cognitive psychology. I’ve learned so much from you.
It has also been an honor for me to know you. If American K-12 education can be saved, your works and insights will serve as the foundation of curriculum content.
Happy 80th Birthday,
You have been an inspiration to me since I first met you in 1983 at a conference on the future of the humanities at Asilomar Center in California. You talked about this interesting idea that you had, which you called “cultural literacy.” I was smitten, you might say it was love at first listen. We chatted over a drink, and I told you that the world needed to hear you. I said, “Why don’t you write a book?” You did, and the rest is history.
Over this past quarter-century, you have been my intellectual lodestar. I will always treasure the memory of the night we sang a rap about curriculum to the crowd at the Hoover Institution.
Your ideas, your books, and your intellectual legacy will live forever. If American education is ever to meet its lofty ideals of equity and excellence, it will be because of your leadership and courage.
Thank you, my friend, for what you have given to me, to your beloved family, and to America’s teachers and children.
I’m mighty glad that umpteen years ago Diane and I encouraged you to write a book. The three you have since authored would themselves place you in the firmament of America’s most consequential education reformers even if you hadn’t done another thing. But you’ve done so much more. I’m wowed, appreciative, and honored to know you and be your colleague. Warmest congratulations.
What better time than your birthday to reflect on your enormous positive impact on education. Your voice has been so important in national conversations on school curricula and effectiveness. I, and countless others, are grateful for your contributions, your tenacity, your intellectual honesty, and your heart. I should add that you are, among other things, a hell of a cognitive psychologist.
On a personal note, you are more responsible than any other individual for my exit from experimental psychology and entrance to the world of education research. I offer sincere thanks and appreciation for your role as guide and mentor.
Many happy returns of the day!
In an educational age characterized by fragmentation, false idols, and damaging fantasies, you have shown us — in your writings, your schools, your leadership — what it is to take true responsibility for teaching our children. How lucky we are to build on your work, to support your vision! A very happy birthday to you — and many, many happy returns.
It is a privilege for each of us at the Core Knowledge Foundation, the organization that you founded in the name of educational excellence and equity for all children, to work side-by-side with you towards that goal. Your intellect inspires and challenges us on a daily basis. Your kindness and gentleness spurs us on when obstacles loom large. We — those of us at Core Knowledge and the American people — are so very lucky that you continue to lead us in the fight to improve American education and a create a more just society.
Happy 80th Birthday, Don!
Linda Bevilacqua (on behalf of the entire Core Knowledge Foundation)
P.S. to other bloggers: Ssshhh — don’t tell Don that most 8o year olds retire and go fishing!
One of the questions I have always asked myself in mulling projects and opportunities is, “If I do/do not try to do this, will I regret it when I’m 80?” I can see that I’ve gotten myself into loads of trouble in deferring to this question. Yet, I’ve also learned, and — do not be surprised — I’ve learned much of it from you, Don. You are an awesome source of inspiration. Beyond puzzling, learning, speaking, and writing, you have even created curricula and schools. So very, very, very, very much work. Such dauntless vision and devotion. And your efforts have mattered so very, very much.
I wish I had the command of literature to convey this to you beautifully, as you have so often done for others.
Congratulations on being 80. Enjoy it greatly.
With love, admiration, and much gratitude,
Marilyn Jager Adams
When, in early 1985, Don sent a manuscript to Al Shanker and Al sent it to me with his usual “What do you think?” scribbled across the top, little did I know that I was being introduced to the greatest education theorist in history. That’s as in all of history. Thus began a long professional collaboration and warm friendship. I am proud to say that, starting with the Spring 1985 cover article, “Cultural Literacy,” Don’s writings appeared in the pages of American Educator probably more frequently than in any other publication.
The nation will forever be in the debt of this brilliant and courageous patriot. How lucky we are that he became interested in how children learn, and then with great generosity and steadfastness translated his theories into a real-life movement. As the ideas embodied by Core Knowledge continue to spread, as they surely will, the great promise of the American experiment will be ever so closer at hand. For that — ah, that! — no praise is sufficient.
Eighty bright candles, eighty good wishes, eighty big hugs!
former editor, American Educator
Happy Eightieth! Here’s to your brilliant ideas and to your unique and incredible effort to get those ideas realized in real schools. Your books on educational ideas, all the What Your -Grader Needs to Know books, the fabulous teacher handbooks, the annual conferences for teachers implementing Core Knowledge, all those articles for American Educator magazine (!), … really, it’s hard to believe you’re only eighty. Along with Al Shanker, you’ve had more impact on my educational thinking than anyone. I’m so thankful for that, for the opportunities that I’ve had to work with you, for the great fights that you have made on behalf of good educational ideas, and for the huge efforts that you’ve made on behalf of good education for all. Thanks and cheers!
you remain my education mentor in virtually every regard. No other single person has given more shape to my thinking about education. I vividly recall my early visit with you in Charlottesville, the full day workshop you did for my board in Albuquerque, and the great debate with Stan Rounds in Orlando. Each of these events were milestones in the development of our education reform initiatives.
You have been so incredibly unselfish with your time and energy in guiding and helping our work in Hobbs, New Mexico. It’s hard to believe that our work has continued for twelve years!
I am deeply grateful for your guidance and friendship over these many years. Happy birthday and congratulations on such a distinguished and accomplished career.
J. F Maddox Foundation