Digging Trenches: Nationalism and the First National Report on the Elementary History Curriculum
Theory and Research in Social Education 12/2004; DOI: 10.1080/00933104.2005.10473282
The objective of this historical analysis is to determine the origins of the American elementary history/social studies curriculum and to determine how nationalism affected the curriculum as it progressed in the early twentieth century. The Committee of Eight (Co8), established by the American Historical Association in 1905, created the first national report on the teaching of elementary history and civics. Factors influencing the resultant curriculum, such as the pressure for diverse membership, the curriculum established in European countries, the growth and development of American identity and pride, the massive expansion of public schooling, and regulations on teacher certification are examined. A combination of demands resulted in an elementary history curriculum that was nationalistic in perspective, as the report recommended American history to be the sole focus of study in grades one through eight. Comparisons and implications for the present day elementary history curriculum are discussed. (Contains 1 table and 4 notes.)
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ABSTRACT: This article offers a critical review of the historical literature on the National Education Association’s (NEA) 1916 Committee on Social Studies (CSS) report, the document generally believed to have launched the social studies movement in American secondary schools. The review begins with a critical analysis of the four most pervasive interpretations of the report. Drawing upon these interpretations, the author suggests that there are three central issues at the heart of these disputes. The first is over the ideological origins of the report; the second, its institutional origins; and the third, its epistemological position. It is argued that the influence of John Dewey is the key to overcoming these disagreements by suggesting that the members of the Committee agreed upon a core of shared beliefs that reflected his philosophical ideas.