facebook pixel
New Ideal - Reason | Individualism | Capitalism

Natalie Wexler’s Critique of the ‘Knowledge Gap’ in Schools

In this episode of New Ideal Live, Elan Journo and Sam Weaver discuss Natalie Wexler’s argument that many American elementary schools have abandoned the responsibility of teaching factual content, and that this rejection of the importance of knowledge is exacerbating the nation’s reading crisis.

Among the topics covered:

  • The outrageous failure of American schools to teach students how to read and to kindle in them a love of reading;
  • Natalie Wexler’s argument that this failure is related to the failure of schools to teach basic factual knowledge;
  • Wexler’s view that phonics is necessary but not sufficient for teaching reading, because knowledge is also necessary for understanding meaning;
  • Schools’ bizarre attempt to detach reading skills from the study of content;
  • How this approach destroys students’ motivation to learn;
  • Why government control of education is to blame for the entrenchment of these failed methods;
  • How the establishment has ignored evidence of the bankruptcy of its methods.

Mentioned in the discussion are Natalie Wexler’s book The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System – and How to Fix It, Ayn Rand’s essay “The Comprachicos”,  Leonard Peikoff’s essay “The American School: Why Johnny Can’t Think”, and a New York Times article about literacy theorist Lucy Calkins.

This episode was recorded on February 10, 2023. Listen to the discussion below. Listen and subscribe from your mobile device on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify or Stitcher. Watch previous episodes here.

Podcast audio:


If you value the ideas presented here, please become an ARI Member today.

Do you have a comment or question?

Share this article:

Dan Schwartz

Dan Schwartz, PhD in philosophy and formerly a professor, is a visiting fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.

Updates from New Ideal

Book Image  

Listen to New Ideal Live!

New Ideal Live is the podcast that explores pressing cultural issues from the perspective of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, which upholds the ideals of reason, individualism, and capitalism.

Subscribe here.

Ayn Rand University App

Explore unique philosophical content that challenges conventional views — in courses you can take on the go.

Available on Google Play and
the App Store.

Welcome to New Ideal!

If you like what you’re reading, be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter! You’ll also receive a FREE copy of our book, Illuminating Ayn Rand.