MAIN PURPOSE STATEMENT
Regarding the JOURNEY INTO AMERICAN . 2026.com Project
Introduced by Richard Burrill, M.A.
Editor-in Chief of The Anthro Company (Publishing Co),
Author-in-Residence, Adjunct Instructor Emeritus, Presenter.
MISSION STATEMENT: To help keep the people of the United States truly together as informed, creative, and productive Americans, keeping with the spirit that the children are the hope for our future, and elders the link to the past.
about this greater work in progress:
A People’s Cultural Literacy Reader of the United States (ISBN: 978-1-878464-13-2) is currently a work in progress. In 2019, its first four “chapters” are now published and available as books from The Anthro Company (Go to Shop for Books).
Richard Burrill: “This Reader is the projected culmination product that I whole-heartedly endorse. I believe in its direction and its potential to become an invaluable resource for the nation.”
FINAL DEADLINE? As soon as possible and/or no later than July 4, 2026. Why 2026? Because 2026 shall mark our country’s 250th birthday since Independence. Called the Sestercentennial celebration, it proffers the precious opportunity for we, the people, to apply critical thinking enablers to conduct skillful fact-finding, to take back science, and to learn from our diverse peoples their respective histories and customs in order to finally ‘get it right,’ and be truly together as one.
The Countdown Clock posted on this site helps to keep us on task.
WHAT IS THE AUDIENCE TO WHOM THIS READER IS WRITTEN?
Answer: This Reader’s content, once in place, shall be marketed to every home and library in the United States.
WHAT IS CULTURAL LITERACY? Simply put, it is shared knowledge by and for all Americans, which is credible and useful in scope. However, it must be substantive material taught, not shallow or simply core in scope. Sound cultural literacy teaching makes available to students selected bibliographies on the person or place being introduced. This instills the understanding that there is much more to learn. (Also a Selected Bibliography on American Studies by this researcher is available upon request).
Indeed, the real test of any educational idea is its usefulness. Imagine a majority of Americans who are informed throughout the land with shared knowledge about America’s diverse peoples, its traditions, its stories, the metaphors we live by, and the diverse histories of the people (that have been past down from generation to generation over time, and even earlier than 1776).
Imagine a majority of the people of the upper class and of the under class being equally literate, and thereby able to communicate and problem solve effectively together, with solutions that serve the common good. That WILL BE really something, and cannot happen soon enough!
WHO HAVE BEEN CULTURAL LITERACY PIONEER CONTRIBUTORS?
The four most significant and influential pioneers of cultural literacy movement for me, that began in about 1980, were: Howard Zinn, E. D. Hirsh Jr., Daniel J. Boorstin, and James Loewen.
1) Howard Zinn: American historian, playwright, and social activist.
Howard Zinn A People’s History of the United States 1492 –Present (1980). Zinn, in 1980, convinced Harper & Row:HarperCollins to publish his first edition. This work has been revised seven times (1995) (1998) (1999) (2003) (2004) (2005) and (2010).
Zinn’s main purpose for writing A People’s History of the United States, he explained, was to present the history from the point of view of the common people rather than from the point of view of historians or politicians.
(2) Daniel J. Boorstin: Pulitzer Prize winning historian, educator and author. Twelfth Librarian of Congress (1975) Professor of History University of Chicago.
Daniel J. Boorstin and Brooks M. Kelley with Ruth Frankel Boorstin A History of the United States (1986), Lexington, Massachusetts: Ginn and Company.
(3) English Professor E. D. Hirsh Jr., and lead organizer of the Foundation of Cultural Literacy Project.
E. D. Hirsh Jr., Joseph F. Kett, and James Trefil. The Dictionary Of American Cultural Literacy (1988). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
(4) James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me, Completely Revised and Updated 1995 . New York: Touchstone Book / Simon & Schuster.
Loewen has been a regular contributor to the History Channel’s History magazine, and professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Vermont. He lives in Washington, D.C., and most every day continues his research at the Library of Congress.
Speaking for myself, I entered the emerging cultural literacy movement, upon publishing my first trade book, The Human Almanac: People Through Time (Sierra Pacific Press, 1983). Some of my most outstanding students with whom I had the privilege of compiling American cultural literacy began in 1970. Thirteen years later, the stories, symbols, metaphors, and findings we collected, appeared in The Human Almanac.
* This writer, Richard Burrill, came on the scene officially back in 1983, when Charles and Marge Papp of Sierra Pacific Press in Sacramento, accepted my manuscript with artwork that they published 2,000 copies of The Human Almanac: People Through Time (1983). The Papps kept in the tumultuous book business for six years, before retiring. Fortunately, this writer barely had the resources enough in 1989, to purchase from the Papps all of the remaining HA copies ( nicknamed lovingly by the Papps, “Poor Richard’s Almanac.” Please note that from my last count, I have left about 200 copies remaining in stock (Go to Shop For Books).
WHAT QUALIFIES AS CULTURAL LITERACY INFORMATION?
One useful answer I have edited from the Introduction by E.D.Hirsch, Jr., J.F.Kett, and J.T. Trefil of their "Best seller,"The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (1988:ix-x) is their “Five Rules For Items To Be Included in their cultural literature Dictionary:
1) By definition, cultural literacy falls between the specialized and the generalized. Is the item so specialized that it is known only by experts and is therefore above of common knowledge? Is the item proposed too basic and generalized, such as the names of color and animals?
2) Is the subject known by the common and broad majority of Americans? If a major daily newspaper refers to an event, person, or thing without defining it, we can assume that the majority of the readers of that periodical will know what that item is.
3) The item must have lasting significance. For the sake of the dictionary, we arbitrarily chose a memory span of fifteen years. If a person or event has been widely recognized for more than fifteen year or seems likely to be recognized by a majority of people fifteen years from now, that person or event deserved consideration for a place in this dictionary.
4) Regarding the fields of sports and entertainment, there are outstanding exceptions only. “ . . . our collective memory of most of the people and events in the fields of sports and entertainment is too ephemeral to take a permanent place in our cultural heritage.” p. x.
5) Regarding the field of science, the item must be truly essential to a broad grasp of a major science. Is the science item what literate Americans ought to know to achieve the levels of communication expected for the humanities and social sciences?
The three compilers of their Dictionary, then concluded:
"We hope inclusion and exclusion will stimulates debate among our readers. e.g., American culture is not the property of the elite or even of the majority .—it belongs to us all "(1988:x).
I basically endorse their five rules, but, in my opinion the common knowledge descriptions must be substantive, not shallow. Mandatory, in my opinion, is that a selected bibliography and/or reputable web site link(s) should also be listed below each item of cultural literacy taught, as a kind of footnote. This will show students that the content about this shared item has substance, and that there is more to learn .
Also, it occurs to me that the skill of effective public speaking should be taught more in the schools. What good is American cultural literacy if the children, the hope for the future, cannot effectively convey and/or apply the knowledge they have learned to make for a better world?
YOUR INPUT AND REFERRALS ARE IMPORTANT TO US.
Collaboration in providing new item submissions and/or communicating good ideas are welcomed towards completing A People’s Cultural Literacy Reader of the United States. All good suggestions will be applied. This way the journeyintoamerica2026.com Project, is inclusive, that is to say is shared knowledge.
Review the COMING EVENTS CALENDAR, and consider attending one or more Speakerships and Seminars to come. We look forward to making new acquaintances and learning more together.
The Anthro Company (Press)
1036 Southampton Drive
Chico, CA 95926
(530) 809-2451 (Use for leaving a message)
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