Curriculum Field in the Making: Influences That Led to Social Efficiency as Dominant Curriculum Ideology in Progressive Era in the U.S.

Armend Tahirsylaj


This article problematizes the development of curriculum field in the United States at the turn of the 20th century. During the time, the curriculum field was – and to some extent still is - far from a clearly defined, unified, well-established theory of education or education programme. The present article addresses the development of curriculum field in the United States through a historical lens. Specifically, it initially briefly discusses the four widely-recognized competing curriculum ideologies or approaches, namely humanists, developmentalists, social reconstruction, and social efficiency, as well as European influences on these approaches. In the second part, it discusses how social efficiency model became the prevailing education ideology throughout the 20th century to date in the U.S. context. It is concluded that prevailing interests and needs of the U.S. at the turn of 20th century aligned well with promises of social efficiency education ideology, thus, paving the way for it to become the dominant curriculum approach that we know today, while the other ideologies remained part of U.S. mainstream education to lesser extent, and never ceased to exist completely.

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Euro-JCS is indexed in CAPES/QUALIS (Category: Education |  Classification: B3)

ISSN: 2182-7168



Associação Portuguesa de Estudos Curriculares (NIPC: 506240061)

Instituto de Educação da Universidade do Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal

The journal is associated with the European Association of Curriculum Studies.