Hirsch’s work and output span decades, but a principal thrust of his ideas can be summarized thusly: reading comprehension is not a “skill” we can teach directly, practice, or master. It is not like riding a bike, where if you learn on one you can ride another with ease. Once you learn to “decode” the words on a page, your ability to read with understanding is largely a reflection of how much knowledge and vocabulary you have and share with the writer.
In the film Dr. E. D. Hirsch Jr. sets out why he struggles to understand why English skills are assessed as a standalone subject. Hirsch would rather see a child being assessed on their ability to use their comprehension skills in context when applied to another subject.