Curriculum Development: The Beginning

The Technical Approach to curriculum development started with the work of Franklin Bobbitt and Werrett Charters in the early 20th century. These two men laid the foundation upon which Ralph Tyler would develop the quintessential curriculum development model in the middle part of the 20th century. Bobbitt and Charters were some of the first to see curriculum as something that could be developed scientifically.

Bobbitt believe that a general plan of the curriculum could happen through analyzing the various task of the curriculum. From these different task, came the objectives of the curriculum. For example, in an English class, one activity is developing paragraphs. Therefore, writing paragraphs should be one objective that is a part of the larger English curriculum.  The evidence of a well-written paragraph was an indication that the student had achieved the objective.

Bobbitt did not stop at analyzing task at this level. He developed hundreds of objectives for many different aspects of life. Many complain that he was too scientific in his quest to develop clear objectives for so many behaviors. Bobbitt was trying to capture as much of the human experience as possible in his development of so many objectives. By doing so, students would be better prepared for the world

Charters developed a simple four step process for developing curriculum.

  1. Select objectives
  2. Divide objectives into activities
  3. Place activities and and objectives into units
  4. Collect evidence of achievement

Charters believe that objectives were derived scientifically for practical use.  Successful completion of an objective was through providing observable evidence. This simple four step process would influence one of Charters greatest students, Ralph Tyler.

Each of these men were a product of their era. The age of modernism was a time in which people believed that science could solve the woes of the world. This mindset heavily influence Bobbitt and Charters desire for creating a scientific curriculum. The work that they did is still felt in classrooms today.

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