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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2007
This is a fascinating and comprehensive look at the history of modern American education during its most formative time...roughly the first half of the 20th century.

What is most striking to me is that the debates I see in schools and classrooms today were fought on a national scale during this time. This is an important book for anyone who wants background on the relationship among philosophy, values, methods, content, educational practices, and institutions.

You can see the history of many of the fundamental elements of modern American concepts of schools (grades, subjects, testing). Looking at this history and seeing the causes, people, decisions, and debates--how our assumptions are a construct--can expand a reader's concept about what is currently possible. For example, viable models of education based on child development that are now echoed by contemporary calls for more learner-centered pedagogy were steamrolled with factory models based on calls for "efficiency." It's grist for expanding your thinking about what is possible today in least is was for me.

It's a good read as'll be writing in the margins and underlining passages, even if you don't have a paper due.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2011
The Struggle for the American Curriculum is not a book to entertain; it is a book to be read in order to understand the sordid history that begat today's subject-oriented, objective-laden, test-obsessed curricula. Kliebard reveals the American curriculum is not neutral. It was the results of many tense compromises (between racist pseudo-scientists and ideologues) and economic exigencies (the rise of industry, the Great Depression, and the Cold War). The curriculum that emerged from these struggles was a highly politicized animal, often divorced from actual research, teacher input, and students' needs. Perhaps the most tragic irony is how little we seem to have learned from these past struggles; in the ongoing debates on curriculum reform, we're racing back to where we started.

The Struggle for the American Curriculum helped me understand the multifaceted power relationships that shape curriculum. No longer do I see American curriculum as a neutral entity. Whether it is Charles Elliot reifying the Western ethnocentrism in the Committees of 10 and 15, or the Texas Board of Education approving ethnocentric history textbooks in today's draconian test culture, we cannot shake the value-laden decisions that prize one group's knowledge over another. Most frightening is the pervasive sense of déjà vu I felt in reading Kliebard's book. The curricular reforms we believe will ameliorate inequality are too often the ghosts of races already run. In our efforts to close achievement gaps, we may be stuck perpetuating them.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2006
Kliebard's "Struggle", now in its third edition, is considered by most to be one of THE most important books about the history of American education. Starting in the early 1890's with the Committee of Ten, Kliebard gives the reader a coherent version of a rather complex story, the story of how four factions have competed to build American schools in their own image. Interestingly, Kliebard shows how each faction was able to have profound influnece on public education and how we think about education in general.

Those who believe that schools should be a place where young people are intellectually engaged in worthwhile learning for the ultimate purpose of developing active democratic citizens may walk away from the book a little depressed since Kliebard does seem to indicate that the factions who believe schools are meant to 1) prepare young people for jobs 2)secure American hegemony in the global marketplace, or 3)indoctrinate students to be obediant patriots who conform blindly to whatever adults tell them are the ones who in the end have had the most influence on what our children are actually doing (or not doing) in public schools. Kliebard's quote of Joel Spring in the Afterword rings true for democratic educators who have dedicated their lives to improving education for the common good. Spring contends that the "social efficiency" faction has left such a deep impression on American education that any efforts at reform are hopeless because there are certain organizational features of our schools which we take for granted as normative inhibit freedom and individuality and demand social adaptation.

At any rate, this book is great for anyone who wants to learn more about the deep history of why our schools look the way they do and who is patient enough to read through an intelligent and scholarly work.
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on January 18, 2014
Great condition! Quick service! Book just as described in entry. Met my expectations and those stated in description. Thank you!
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on June 27, 2015
Very narrative style, but if you can navigate it, the information and insight are both amazing.
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on May 13, 2015
It is helpful for you to understand the history of American curriculum.
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16 of 26 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 9, 2006
This book by Kliebard is a classic in the world of college textbooks about American educational history and curriculum. However, if I might be so bold to say so, it is not a classic due to its own strength but rather to the paucity of books that cover this topic.

I have no problem with Kliebard's choice of years to write about (1893-1958) since they are the years when debate over what should be the proper curriculum in America's schools was at its most fierce, beginning with the Committee of Ten report in the 1890s, he documents several movements and ends with the federal government assuming more control over education right after the Sputnik incident caused the American government to doubt the quality of teaching science and math students were receiving.

Kliebard is a professor of education. This shows when he tells this story to his readers. Although he knows his material backwards and forwards, he clearly is an apologist for John Dewey and he has little tolerance for any other education movement. He openly mocks many of them as tools for social control by the ruling class. Other times he pulls out sexist and racist quotes that are intended to excite the reader into disliking educational movements. While it is a dependable (but cheap) tactic to score a few points in a debate, it is a very poor way to write history. It also distorts the true study of some of these movements.

Any history student can tell you that America in the late 1800s and early 1900s was a racist and sexist place. It serves no purpose to drag those facts into the discussions of the policy debates of the time. Rather, it clouds the issue behind the offending words and phrases. This book was the source of much discussion in my graduate level class I am taking and many of the students become upset with the words and phrases of certain educational movements and then utterly dismiss their main ideas. Thus, the true study of the philosophies of curriculum becomes obscured in the name of partisanship.

The only exception to these tactics is John Dewey. Kliebard admits in one of his prefaces (he has included each preface from each of his 3 editions of his book in this edition) that he is a big fan of Dewey. Unfortunately, Kliebard does not make it entirely clear why. He talks about Dewey's University School and some of the innovations in rather vague terms. Many other times in the book he points out that Dewey is incorrectly interpeted by other movements who claim Dewey as one of their own, but he does little to explain why this well-written, widely-published educational philosopher could not clearly lay out a plan that would not be misinterpreted by so many. Mr. Kliebard, if Dewey was so great why couldn't he more clearly express himself, especially when it came to curriculum for the secondary level?

So, this book gets a grade of C. He loses points for being biased in his reporting of history. He gets extra credit for being one of the few to document this facet of American history in a fairly reader-friendly format.
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on October 19, 2014
Used at Indiana State University for a course.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2006
Keliebard's book introduces the readers to the long history of American education. Essentially, education was something the wealthy used to keep their places in life, but eventually as education became more widespread, it became problematic and the fight for the American Curriculum began to take shape.

With its many twist and turns, the reader is given a glimpse into why education is the way it is, and the many voices and philosophies that helped shape it into its current hegemonic institution. The movement that has left the widest and most permanent imprint on education is that of social efficiency, rooted in the concepts of the Industrial Revolution - get them in and get them out. Sadly, that is the way things truly are.

The battle goes on. Recommended for anyone questioning the underlying beliefs of our current educational system.
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