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American Education History and Curriculum Development Essay


Several critical historical perspectives have affected the nature of education and curriculum development in the United States. Among these is the inclusion of physical education in the curriculum, the effect of colonial-era on education, the influence of the common school movement as well as the progressive era on education curriculum. Ideally, this essay investigates the significant historical events that align with the core elements of educational thought and curriculum development, as well as the Influential elements of theory and people that guide curricular decision-making.

From the 1700s to the 1800s, the quality of education in America was influenced by Sweden, Germany, and England. First, the influence of Germans was felt through the introduction of the Turner societies, which advocated for gymnastics training the country, in pursuit of health and fitness. The English introduced sporting in America to promote moral development by engaging in physical exercise. Finally, the Swedish advocated healthy performance through prescribed movement, aided by light apparatus. It is under the influence of these three countries that the foundation for sports and physical education was taken up in America.

Thus, the 1800s were a time when the inclusion of physical education was used across schools in the United States. Therefore, physical education was integrated as an essential part of the curriculum, with the Round Hills School in Northampton, Massachusetts, is the first to incorporate this into its curriculum. Later in 1824, Catherine Beecher played an instrumental role in designing an exercise program for children in America (Lewis 6). Beecher pushed for the adoption of physical education in public learning institutions, an idea that was only implemented later in 1855.

Ideally, the education system in the United States before the 1700s accorded preferential treatment to white boys, a practice that was mainly pioneered by the Colonial Latin Grammar school. As a result, they were adequately prepared for university education. Consequently, by the 1700s, the establishment of civilized academies was realized, which was evident in the way they were a lot more practical and secular (Webb 89). They also offered opportunities for girls. According to Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, this new education system signified a break from the European Education System, which was viewed as classist.

Moreover, they saw it as a continuation of the democratic principles and instead championed for an all-inclusive educational structure, through the identification of natural aristocracies. Mostly, this new educational system was meant to identify people from all walks of life that were naturally talented and gifted. However, the African Americans had difficulties entering schools owing to the racial problems (Iorio and Yeager 3).

Over time, the American school curriculum became more developed from the rudimentary hornbook level to the more accommodating McGuffey Reader level (Iorio and Yeager 4). However, there is minimal or no comparison between the current and the former colonial educational system, as most of the problems that affected most public schools are associated with the past. Nonetheless, religion has been viewed to present questionable influence in the academic sector, in particular for women. Its role in the enforcement of standards, local control, as well as uneven opportunities for the poor and people of color has also been questioned.

Fortunately, the constitution came in handy in helping to address these challenges. One of the ways it has done this is through delegating the role of academic design and curriculum development entirely as the responsibility of the state rather than the federal government (Goldin and Katz 2).

Another historical event that shaped education in America and curriculum development is the common school movement. During the 9th century, there was a lot of public support for universal education. The thought spiraled this advocacy that schools should be beneficial for everyone in society and not just the wealthy (Iorio and Yeager 6). The most instrumental person that spearheaded this change was Horace Mann. Through his advocacy, common schools were designed, and the quality of education in regular schools improved. With the onset of the civil war, public elementary schools had become popular.

The progressive movement also played a key role in shaping education history and curriculum development in the United States. Notably, John Dewey was a principal advocate of progressivism, an ideal that significantly affected 20th-century education (Labaree 283). One of the fundamental tenets of this curriculum is that it is emphasized the need to foster learning through actions and shaped the curricula to revolve around the interest of the children. While this movement is no longer as common as it used to be, its children-centered curricula continue to thrive as a key influence to most educators presently.

The history of education in the United States is highly diverse. Ideally, every key historic reform played a role in how the education curriculum has changed over time. For instance, the advent of the Turner societies has been instrumental for the inclusion of the Physical education curriculum in education. Colonial governments led to the need to develop standard/ elementary schools, the influence of the constitution in boosting curriculum development, and the role of the progressive movement in encouraging the development of a curriculum centered on action learning and interest of the child. However, these events would not have been possible without the support of key personalities like Dewey, Mann, and the likes of Catherine Beecher, who eventually made it a reality.

Works Cited

Goldin, Claudia and Lawrence F. Katz. “The Shaping of Higher Education: The Formative Years in the United States, 1890-1940.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 13.1 (1999): 37-62. Print.

Iorio, Sharon Hartin, and M. E. Yeager. “School Reform: Past, Present and Future.” Wichita State University, College of Education, Wichita, 2014. Print.

Labaree, David F. “Progressivism, Schools and Schools of Education: An American Romance.” Paedagogica Historica 41.1-2 (2005): 275-288. Print.

Lewis, S. G. “Moral Philosophy and Curricular Reform: Catharine Beecher and Nineteenth Century Educational Leadership for Women.” 2010. Print

Webb, L. Dean. The History of American Education, Upper Saddle River: Merrill Prentice Hall, 2006. Print.

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IvyPanda. "American Education History and Curriculum Development." July 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/american-education-history-and-curriculum-development/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "American Education History and Curriculum Development." July 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/american-education-history-and-curriculum-development/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'American Education History and Curriculum Development'. 20 July.

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