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A Brief History of Curriculum Development in the U.S.

The development of curricula can be thought of as the process by which specific information is transferred to a student or group of students. Curriculum development in the United States has an interesting history that follows the trends and patterns in population, industrial development and economic globalization. As a candidate pursuing a master’s degree in education in curriculum and instruction, it will benefit you to understand how curriculum has developed in the United States.

Early Education in the United States

In the 1700s and 1800s, apprenticeships were the primary form of education. Apprentices trained with experts in specific vocations, such as a blacksmithing or textile production. But as industry has evolved, education has moved away from apprenticeships. In the early 1900s, curricula maintained a strong agricultural focus, which reflected a thriving agricultural sector demonstrated by many families making their living by growing farm products. But as domestic agriculture has declined, education has begun to evolve into a study of broader subjects.

Introduction of Technology

As computers and other technologies have become available, they have become a cornerstone of curriculum development. Education has widely supported the learning of technology in order to maximize students’ success in a technology-driven world. If we consider that one of the purposes of school is to prepare students for entry into the workforce, it makes sense that encouraging systems-based learning and technological literacy would become a priority.

A More Holistic Approach Based on Research

Research has guided the development of important educational theories, which have deepened our understanding of how children and adults learn. This cognitive, social and cultural research directly affects curriculum development and shapes the way in which we communicate information to students. Today’s teachers can use a wide array of classroom practices and tools to effectively convey information to each student.

Curriculum development in the United States has evolved as trends in demography, economy and industry have changed. This fascinating history is further explored through coursework in a master’s of education program. As a teacher, you will gain perspective on the evolution of curriculum development over the decades as well as curricula in today’s educational systems.

Learn more about the LSUS online M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction program.


ASCD: Curriculum Development Since 1900

SCIRP: The Evolution of Curriculum Development in the Context of Increasing Social and Environmental Complexity

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