Social Studies in The Elementary Classroom

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In 1892, the National Education Association appointed a Committee of Ten to look at the general curricula for high schools. The Committee's report outlined, for the first time, a history program approaching the comprehensive programs seen in European education. In 1896, the American Historical Association appointed the Committee of Seven to make a thorough study of history in the secondary schools here and in Europe. The Committee's report had a considerable impact on the high school social studies curriculum. The Study of History in the Schools report recommended the high school history program should consist of Ancient History, European History, English History, and American History. These four blocks of study were recognized in high school courses of study and requirements for entrance to college. Textbook writers also adopted these blocks of study and teachers using the textbooks followed suit (Barth, 1996; Kliebard, 1987).

In 1912, the National Education Association created the Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education. In 1916, the Commission's Social Studies Committee issued a report, The Social Studies in Secondary Education. This report relied, in great part, on the historical perspective of James Robinson and the educational viewpoints of John Dewey, and changed the direction of the social studies from "scientific history" to citizenship and social efficiency (Davis, 1981; Thornton, 1994).

The Progressive movement viewed the schools, and the social sciences in particular, as the vehicle for training the early twentieth century's burgeoning student population for social efficiency. Educational objectives had to conform to social objectives, and public education meant society should determine what shoul...

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