In 1987, E.D. Hirsch sparked a national debate with his book Cultural Literacy, claiming that there is a foundation of common knowledge every American should know — and codifying it in a list of 5,000 facts and cultural references. Hirsch’s list was attacked, celebrated, and much discussed. Today, amidst giant demographic and social shifts, the United States needs such common knowledge more than ever. But a 21st century sense of cultural literacy has to be radically more diverse and inclusive. And it needs to come not from one person but from all of us. So, we ask: What do you think Americans should know to be civically and culturally literate? Give us your top ten!
A blog by Crystal Campos, a 12th-grade student at John Hancock College Preparatory located in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood of Chicago.
A blog by Araceli Hernandez, a 10th-grade student at Marie Sklodowska Curie Metropolitan High School located in the Archer Heights neighborhood of Chicago.
A blog by Tri Ho, a 12thgrade student at William Howard Taft High School located in the Norwood Park neighborhood of Chicago.
"What Every American Should Know” (WE-ASK) is a project of the Aspen Institute Citizenship & American Identity Program, and grew out of an essay by executive director Eric Liu. The Program was created in 2014 to explore how, in an age of increasing diversity and widening inequality, this country can cultivate a sense of shared destiny and common civic purpose. Learn more here.