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Biology Education in the United States During the Twentieth Century

William V. Mayer
The Quarterly Review of Biology
Vol. 61, No. 4 (Dec., 1986), pp. 481-507
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2827745
Page Count: 27
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Biology Education in the United States During the Twentieth Century
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Abstract

The problems facing science education in general and biological education in particular in the twentieth century have been carefully scrutinized and delineated. The lack of response to published studies and reports is primarily due to the absence of a mechanism to activate change and to overcome the inertia of an educational bureaucracy in which teacher preparation, textbooks, examinations, and, indeed, all facets of the system are mutually reinforcing. Critical recommendations of the past are cited, culminating in the only national activist educational project ever undertaken in the United States-the curriculum development movement of the 1950s and 1960s. This movement is viewed from the 25-year personal involvement of the author, and its successes and failures are delineated. About every 20 years the public seems to become exercised about the status of public education, but until a mechanism exists to which the educational system is responsive, efforts at educational reform are largely local, ad hoc, and ephemeral. Education is a problem of national concern, but in the United States the tradition of local control causes national involvement to be viewed as a threat. The curriculum development movement was an enterprise that introduced a pattern of hybrid vigor into the system while, in a apparently contradictory fashion, local control has fostered both parochialism and stasis that have resulted in an uncoordinated patchwork of educational objectives and varying degrees of success in their achievement. The author urges a national coordination of educational goals and the implementation of an acceptable mechanism for inducing change within the present system.

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