Monday, March 7, 2011

The changing curriculum, then and now.

How has the curriculum changed (the content included) since the 1900s?  This is a question from a classmate, and I found it easy to answer with a quick google search.  As far as America is concerned, it has changed with the times, and changed according to what was happening in the world (not so much about bettering the world, but about how the world was affecting the US). 

Here's a breakdown of curriculum development (and its development) since the earliest part of this century (for high school):
  • From 1893-1930s, it was up to college professors to decide what was necessary "college prep."
    • by 1912, every state had a high school, but only 10% of America's youth were graduating from them
    • in 1917, after some complaining from farmers and labor groups, funds were authorized for high schools to have vocational programs.
    • When the depression hit, many high school graduates were not able to find work because of their "lack of preparation."
  • The period from 1931-1942 saw extensive curriculum development.
    • high school enrollment doubled because American youth couldn't find any jobs and therefore chose to stay on in school.
    • several studies were rolling out that revealed teachers did not follow curriculum models
    • teachers were also encouraged to get to know their students better so they could develop better units
  • Curriculum development was shelved when America got involved in WWII.
    • schools were expected to provide "preinduction training" and to provide war/military industry training
  • After 1946, schools were under pressure from many different groups who had vastly different ideas on curriculum
    • these included: environmental education, global understanding, free enterprise, one world emphasis, air-age education, and physical fitness.  Sounds familiar, eh?
  • In 1957, the Soviet Union launched a satellite into space, creating panic in the States
    • had we fallen behind Russia in general skill sets and knowledge?
    • in the next 15 years, more than $100 million was provided for math & science education
    • textbooks and lab guides were developed that took students away from memorization and toward scientific inquiry
  • In the late 1970s, the NSF (Nation Science Foundation) found that students interested in science careers liked the new courses, but most other students did not.  This sounds quite familiar!
  • After 1980, the structure of public high schools became very similar to what we know now.
  • By the 2000s, "standards-based education" had taken a foothold
    • this changed the measurement of success from "finishing 12 years" to "academic achievement."
And that's what I could come up with at 10pm on a Monday night!  To wrap up, I'd like to add a question or two about the last bullet point.  Was this a good change? Will we ever walk away from the state and national standards?

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