It is the 1890s, and educators are concerned that students are not receiving the quality education they deserve—especially if those students plan to attend college. What became known as The Report of the Committee of Ten has now been replicated at varying intervals in the U.S. for 120 years: Competing interests declaring what students learn (and how students learn) as inadequate, and then setting out themselves to identify what students learn (and how students learn) to (i) save the children, (ii) save the country, (iii) save the economy.
This pattern of education reform is best captured, I think, in Herb Kliebard’s The Struggle for the American Curriculum, 1893-1958 because his guiding motif, “struggle,” reveals what is really going on when politicians, educators, researchers, and the public debate (often badly and in conflated ways) content, curriculum, standards, and then instruction.
Although content, curriculum, and standards as…
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