A History of Curriculum Changes in Public Schools The curriculum of the public school system in America has transformed greatly over time. Its original roots that branch from early Puritan schools where the Bible was taught to where education was offered only to the privileged. Most schools had an educational system based on religious teaching methods. The government became involved, and developed an unconstitutional clause known as the separation of church and state. Schools were no longer simply based on training future theologians.
A more structural foundation for the American educational curriculum incorporated reading arithmetic and writing. The main focus of schools was from teaching moral values. The American public school curriculum especially changed after the Civil Rights movement. Integration had an impact on how certain concepts were taught in the classroom as well. American public education differs from that of many other nations in that it is primarily responsibility of the states and individual school districts.
Thomas Jefferson was the first American leader to suggest creating a public school system. He believed that education should be under control of the government, free from religious biases and available to all people regardless of their status in society. Others who were in support were Benjamin Rush, Noah Webster, Robert Coram, and George Washington. It was not until after the 1840s was public education available for people other than the rich. The first public supported high school was founded in 1635.
The attendance in schools was poor because the curriculum was hard. The attendance issues began to improve in the 20th century. It was also during this period participation in public schools increased as well. Elementary and secondary schools used to be centered around subjects such as reading, math, history, geography, language, and science. While a small portion of those subjects are still taught, the focus has been shifted from teaching academic to teaching way of life skills such as attitudes, beliefs, values, themes, behaviors, and job skills.
Left wing professors write the textbooks and the teachers unions control the public schools, so the ideology is what those groups deem politically correct (Chlafly, 2002). Within the literature on curricular revision, three major grounds were identified: First, the society and culture served by an educational community ordered the needs, obligations, and responsibilities expected of the educational program. Second, society enables itself with educational programming (educational curriculum). Third, systemic change, as in the form of changing educational curriculum, is often difficult at best and controversial at worst.
These three elements combine to offer a strong foundation from which educators can begin to address what is taught at all levels, the needs of a respondent society, and the changing roles of classroom practitioners. The presence of religion often triggered controversy on the elementary school level. Some schools districts now recognize that it is wrong to either promote or ignore religion in elementary schools. Some people worry about the separation of church and school. However, some feel that religion must be included in the curriculum for three reasons (Chlafly, 2002): (1)The civic argument: Public schools must be built on common grounds. 2)The constitutional argument: Public schools must be religiously neutral among religious and nonreligious. (3)The educational argument: If students are to be freely educated then they must understand a large amount about religion. Some people argue about why curriculum change is even necessary in public schools. One reason given was because of developments of researched-based teaching strategies. Another reason was geared directly towards public school students. “Students who attend…public schools are faced with more learning challenges than ever before” (Evans, 2004).
The changing needs in children demand that teachers expand their roles. “Academic freedom has its place, of course; but frankly, we know too much to ignore what is possible for our students”. In conclusion, credit must be given to new modern day technology and teaching learning strategies for bringing about a change in our current curriculum. However, there lies social problems that affects our public schools which includes violence, drugs, and alcohol. “Curriculum us more than pieces of information, more than subject matter, more than the disciplines.
Curriculum us an ongoing engagement with the problem of determining what knowledge and experiences are most worthwhile. With each person and with each situation, that problem takes on different shadings and meaning” (Ayers, 1993). References Ayers, W. (1993). To Teach the Journey of a Teacher. New York. Teachers College Press. Collins, Dupis, Johansen, Johnson (1990). Introduction of the Foundations of American Education. Allyn and Bacon. Pearson Chafley, P. (2002). How Public School Curriculum Changed. Volume 35 Evans. R. (2004). The Human Side of Change Jorgenson, O (2010). Why Curriculum is difficult and Necessary. NAIS. Washington.