Monday, March 8, 2010

The Committee of Ten

So I started reading a new book, Curriculum 21-Essential Education for a Changing World, Edited by Heidi Hayes Jacobs. I'm only halfway through the first chapter, but it has immediately caught my attention. Some intriguing questions she has asked:
  1. What are the roots of our school-related habits and dated curriculum?
  2. What if sports where ran like education? Can you imagine preparing for a football game, and you get to another school and the field is actually the size of a soccer field? (Her point is that all states have different curriculum, yet we try to compare them)
  3. Do kids feel like they are entering time machines when they enter our schools?
We only have so much time (because our attention span for reading blogs are only so long), so I wanted to share a little history lesson on The Committee of Ten. This was a group of prestigious educators in 1892 who were asked by the National Educational Association to research how America needed to deal with the influx of students in schools. The reason there was an influx was because at this time in America there was a little thing called the industrial age, so there were less people living on farms and more people living in cities.

There was much debate! The core of the debate centered around the following:
  • Should schools focus on memorization or critical thinking?
  • Should schools group students into college-bound and working-trades?
  • Should there be standardized courses all students must take?
  • Should schools focus on teaching Latin and Greek OR more practical studies?
  • How should schools assess their accomplishments?
So what did they decide? Click here for full report.
  1. All students need the same curriculum.
  2. School calendars will be based on the Agrarian calendar (180 days)
  3. Schooling would take place over 12 years (8 Elementary and 4 High School).
  4. English, history, civics, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics would be the focus.
So there you have it! A century ago 10 guys sat around a table and decided the pedagogy that still exists in schools!

My question to you is this: how many of those same questions are we still asking ourselves today? Is our curriculum meeting the needs of our students for their future? Finally, knowing our current standards of how a school is ran was designed a century ago, what will it take to move forward for the betterment of future generations of students?

1 comment:

  1. Yes, many of the questions are still the same, with the exception of Latin and Greek teachings. :-) We are moving forward and will continue to do so as long as teachers/administrators continue to meet the needs of each student - not teach them as a mass. The goal should be to look at each child as an individual. We do this for our gifted and our special needs. We need to do this for ALL students. By discovering what their interests/talents are we can tailor their education and help them reach their fullest potential in the future!