By Stanley Aronowitz
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Extra info for Postmodern Education: Politics, Culture, and Social Criticism
This is Bloom's program. In part, this becomes clear not only in Bloom's complaint that "Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are not what they used to be—the last resorts of aristocratic sentiment within the democracy" (89), but also in his attack on ethnicity and subordinate cultures. According to Bloom, When one hears men and women proclaiming that they must preserve their culture, one cannot help wondering whether this artificial notion can really take the place of the God and country for which they once would have been willing to die.
At the same time, he would drive the vox populi from the genuine academy where the Absolute Spirit should find a home, but does not, because of the confusion that THE POLITICS OF LITERACY D 31 reigns amidst the dangerous and flabby influence of the discourses of social commitment, politics, and equality. Bloom identifies the impulse to egalitarianism as the chief culprit in the decay of higher learning, as well as the worst impasse of democracy. But university administrators bear equal responsibility for pandering to these base motives.
He is also intent on developing a programmatic discourse for constructing curriculum reform. Hirsch's message is relatively simple. He believes that since literacy is in a decline caused by an overemphasis on process at the expense of content, schools should begin to subordinate the teaching of skills to what he calls common background knowledge. For Hirsch, this common background knowledge consists of information from mainstream culture represented in standard English.