The Struggle for the American Curriculum, 1893-1958

The Struggle for the American Curriculum, 1893-1958

The Struggle for the American Curriculum, 1893-1958

The Struggle for the American Curriculum, 1893-1958

Synopsis

Published in 1987, the first edition of The Struggle for the American Curriculum was a classic in curriculum studies and in the history of education. This new third edition is thoroughly revised and updated, and includes two new chapters on the renewed attacks on the subject curriculum in the 1940s and 1950s, as well as the way individual school subjects evolved over time and were affected by these attacks.

Excerpt

At the heart of America's educational system in the nineteenth century was the teacher. It was the teacher, ill trained, harassed, and underpaid, often immature, who was expected to embody the standard virtues and community values and, at the same time, to mete out stern discipline to the unruly and dull-witted. But, by the 1890s, nineteenth-century society, with its reliance on the face-to-face community, was clearly in decline, and with the recognition of social change, came a radically altered vision of the role of schooling. As cities grew, the schools were no longer the direct instruments of a visible and unified community. Rather, they became an ever more critical mediating institution between the family and a puzzling and impersonal social order, an institution through which the norms and ways of surviving in the new industrial society would be conveyed. Traditional family life was not only in decline, but even when it remained stable, it was no longer deemed sufficient to initiate the young into a complex and technological world.

With the change in the social role of the school came a change in the educational center of gravity; it shifted from the tangible presence of the teacher to the remote knowledge and values incarnate in the curriculum. By the 1890s, the forces that were to struggle for control of the American curriculum were in place, and the early part of the twentieth century became the battleground for that struggle.

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