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Core Knowledge Sequence

The Core Knowledge Sequence (CKS) is the most content-rich curriculum now extant for Kindergarten through Eighth Grade in subjects from history and science to art and music. It focuses squarely on content whereas other curricula, particularly the similarly named Common Core, focus on skills.

Students memorize facts, dates, names, places, and events, which give them the basic pieces of geography, history, and science. With this wealth of knowledge students form reasonable and coherent opinions, craft good arguments, and seek out deeper and broader knowledge. Background knowledge is vital for increased reading ability, interest in school, improved memory, and understanding abstractions and meaning.

History of Core Knowledge Sequence

This sequence was developed and first published in 1988 to provide comprehensive order to K-8 education, with the intention of training students in the arts, literature, science, history, math, music and language from our rich cultural and intellectual inheritance and has been successfully employed and tested in hundreds of schools throughout the United States.

Daniel T. Willingham explained in his article, How Knowledge Helps, why large amounts of information and knowledge are tremendously beneficial.

Willingham explained that “chunking” items together greatly expands how much will fit into a person’s working memory. The important aspect of using background knowledge to chunk is that it leaves more free space for working memory. Utilizing CKS spiraling approach of building on previous knowledge will give all students the same background knowledge so they will all have more available working memory when taught new concepts and information. 

How CKS is Utilized at JXC

CKS is based upon E.D. Hirsch’s idea of cultural literacy, which makes it the ideal curriculum for a classical school. 

Providing a grade-by-grade sequence of specific topics to be taught in grades K-8, it will provide the basic curricular framework for history, geography, literature, visual arts, music, and science at JXC. With cultural literacy as the guiding principle, the Core Knowledge Sequence leads students through a comprehensive and grade-appropriate view of science, literature, art, music, and history.

Topics which are especially important for cultural literacy are repeated in a spiraling fashion that allows students to build and deepen their knowledge by grade and to make cross-curricular connections across subjects. Younger students build a firm but broad foundation in these topics while older students are able to achieve depth.  The order of the program allows for regular repetition of the most important topics, such that students are well-versed in the fundamentals by the time they reach high school. 

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