Milestones in the Development of Curriculum Theory

1829 The Mind as a Muscle—Original papers in relation to a course of liberal education. (1829). American Journal of Science and Arts. 15, 297–351.
1890 James, W. (1890). The principles of psychology, Vol. 1. New York, NY. Holt.
1891 Herbert Spencer (1820-1903): “What knowledge is of most worth?” fundamental curriculum question. He is best known for coining the phrase “survival of the fittest,” which he applied to social as well as natural systems, earning him the label “social Darwinist.”
1892 Appointment of the National Education Association’s Committee of Ten—recommended the standardization of American high school curriculum.
1896 Opening of the first Dewey School, January 1896—The Univ. of Chicago, Laboratory School.
1897 Dewey, J., & Small, A. W. (1897). My pedagogic creed (No. 25). EL Kellogg & Company.
1901 Woodworth, R. S., & Thorndike, E. L. (1901). The influence of improvement in one mental function upon the efficiency of other functions.(I). Psychological review, 8(3), 247. (3), 247–261.
1908 Jane Addams (1860-1935): “The public school and the immigrant child.” Often referred to as the founder of the field of social work. Second woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
1911 Opening of the first Montessori School, January 1911.
1912 Maria Montessori (1870-1952): “A critical consideration of the new pedagogy in its relation to modern science.” Italian, founder of Montessori method of schooling. Science requires a passion to understand nature. For teachers, that should include curiosity about the nature of the child.
Montessori, M., & Anne, E. (Trans.). (1912). The Montessori method: Scientific pedagogy as applied to child education. In The Children’s Houses, with additions and revisions by the author, pp. 1–27. New York, NY: Frederick A Stokes Company. Doi: 10.1037/13054-001
1916 Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education is published. The publication helps lead to the advancement of progressive education.
1918 Franklin Bobbitt (1876-1956): Curriculum development from theories of scientific management. Critics call his approach “scientistic.” He was part of the social efficiency movement, one branch of the progressive movement at the time.
Bobbitt, F. (2013). Scientific method in curriculum-making. First published in 1918. In: D. J. Flinders & S. J. Thornton (Eds.), Curriculum Studies Reader (4th ed.), pp. 11–18. New York, NY: RoutledgeFalmer.
1918 Kilpatrick, W. (1918). The project method. Teachers College Record, 19, 319–335.
1921 Boyd Bode (1873-1952): Leading progressive educator and philosopher of his time. Wrote Fundamentals of Education. Pragmatist. Critical of social efficiency.
1923 W. W. Charters (1875-1952): Created a process of “activity analysis” for curriculum development that was to be a “scientific” approach. Belongs to the social efficiency camp; also criticized as scientistic.
1924 Thorndike, E. L. (1924). Mental Discipline in High School Studies. Journal of Educational Psychology, 15(1), 1.
1926 The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is administered for the first time.
1928 Harold Rugg (1886-1960): Progressive educator who co-wrote The Child-Centered School, introducing the idea of child-centered pedagogy. Co-founder of the National Council for Social Studies.
1929 Piaget, J., & Tomlinson, J. (Trans.). (1929). The child’s conception of the world. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace. Piaget’s theory of cognitive development becomes influential in developmental psychology and education in the U.S.
1929 The Great Depression—mass school closings and thousands of teacher layoffs. Opinions differ as to when it really ended, late 1930s? Mid 1940s? The answer, I would assume, would be different according to whether or not you could afford to feed your family.
1929 John Dewey (1859-1952): “My pedagogic creed.” His name is synonymous with the Progressive education movement. Dewey has been generally recognized as the most renowned and influential American philosopher of education.
1932 George Counts (1889-1974): “Dare the schools build a new social order?” Like twenty-first century criticalists believed that schools always indoctrinated students. What interested Counts was the schools’ orientation: what kind of society did the schools favor and to what degree.
Counts, G. (1932). Dare progressive education be progressive? Progressive Education, 9(4), 257–263. Retrieved from http://courses.wccnet.edu/~palay/cls2002/counts.htm
1933 Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950): Teacher, scholar, publisher and administrator, Carter Godwin Woodson articulated ideas that are antecedents to the discipline of black studies; however, he is best known as the “father of black history.” Wrote The Miseducation of the Negro.
1935 The breakdown of progressive education during the 1930s, as eclecticism became Kliebard’s buzzword (Kliebard, 2004, ch. 8).
1937–1942 Duncan McArthur’s seminal role in Ontario’s Department of Education, during the “dramatic reorganisation” of the education system (Christou, 2013, p. 677).
1949 Ralph Tyler (1902-1994)—Basic Principals of Curriculum and Instruction, a still commonly used textbook, outlines steps toward curriculum development that are now referred to as “The Tyler Rationale,” and are criticized by the reconceptualists for being overly mechanized, linear and a tool for controlling teachers’ work.
Tyler, R. (1949). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
1950 Herrick, V., & Tyler, R. (Eds.). (1950). Toward improved curriculum theory. Supplementary educational monograph, 71. Chicago, Il: University of Chicago Press.
1962 Jerome Bruner (1915-Present): From cognitive psychologist to humanist educator — MACOS, curriculum based on theories about the “structure of the disciplines.”
1962 Hilda Taba (1902-1967): Curriculum Theory and Practice. Curriculum theorist, curriculum reformer, and teacher educator, Hilda Taba contributed to the theoretical and pedagogical foundations of concept development and critical thinking in social studies curriculum and helped to lay the foundations of education for diverse student populations.
1969 Joseph Schwab (1909-1988): “The Practical.” Schwab is best remembered for the last and most comprehensive of his critiques of education, focused on curriculum making. His invited address in 1969 at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association challenged the field of curriculum research, which had become moribund because of inveterate unexamined reliance on direct application of theories, especially from the social sciences.
1970 Paulo Freire (1921-1997): A Pedagogy of the Oppressed – Brazilian dissident educator. Critical of what he called banking education, where it is the job of the teacher to deposit in the minds of the students, considered to be empty, the bits of information that constitute knowledge. To the contrary, he argued, it is the job of educators to help students to achieve a form of critical thinking (or conscientization) that will make possible an awareness of society as mutable and potentially open to transformation.
1970s Maxine Greene (1917-Present): A humanities curriculum should be emphasized. Works of art deliberately created to move people to critical awareness, to a sense of moral agency and to a conscious engagement with the world, should be central to any curriculum that is constructed today. Teachers need to bring themselves to school—use their own lives, knowledge, and explorations as elements within the curriculum.
1975 William Pinar (1947-Present): Known for his work in the area of curriculum theory, Pinar is strongly associated with the reconceptualist movement in curriculum theory since the early 1970s. In the early 1970s, along with Madeleine Grumet, Pinar introduced the notion of currere, shifting in a radical manner the notion of curriculum as a noun to curriculum as a verb.
Pinar, W. (1975, April). The method of “currere.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Washington, DC.

Talking Point: Each development in the timeline above can be interpreted as a positive contribution to one or more of Kliebard’s (2004) competitive movements in American curriculum development—humanists; developmentalists; social efficiency educators; social meliorists; and John Dewey’s progressive educators. Which item could be seen as furthering a particular movement? E.g., Tyler’s basic principles contributing to the social efficiency movement, or possibly more than one movement (e.g., Kilpatrick’s project method)? How and why?

Talking Point: On-going debates over curriculum theory and implementation rage over the merits of two main schools of thought…

Experiential – flexible – teachers as artist or facilitator of learning
Holistic – inclusive of the “whole child”
Agent of social change
Critiques of progressivism – “Baby knows best,” political indoctrination, “soft” or not rigorous, can’t be measured or accurately assessed.

Scientific, rigid approaches
Instruction based on behavioural (measurable) objectives
Doing “what works”
Critiques of scientism – Advocates are “technocratic,” “pseudoscientific,” blindly, or even hypocritically, supportive of the status quo.

What else might be said in favour or critique of either school of thought?

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