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Committee of Ten

Page history last edited by Gabriella Buru 9 years, 2 months ago

Committee of Ten

The Early Years of Influence on Middle School Education

Presented by Gabriella Buru

Historical Context of Work

Formed in 1892



CHARLES W. ELIOT, President of Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., Chairman.
WILLIAM T. HARRIS, Commissioner of Education, Washington, D. C.
JAMES B. ANGELL, President of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.
JOHN TETLOW, Head Master of the Girls’ High School and the Girls’ Latin School, Boston, Mass.
JAMES M. TAYLOR, President of Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N. Y.
OSCAR D. ROBINSON, Principal of the High School, Albany, N. Y.
JAMES H. BAKER, President of the University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo.
RICHARD H. JESSE, President of the University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo.
JAMES C. MACKENZIE, Head Master of the Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, N. J.
HENRY C. KING, Professor in Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio.


The national Education Association appointed the members to formulate and make recommendations on how to better prepare students for college starting at the secondary school level.


Education and Influences

An early study showed that secondary schools had a wide range of difference in subjects and context taught in different schools, where the length and the number of subjects greatly differed from school to school. The National Council of Education saw the need to establish uniform guidelines and recommendation with the help of Committee of Ten.


Work Life

When the Committee of Ten was formed in 1892, the National Education Association goal was to establish a more uniform secondary school system where subjects and skills are offered in all schools equally, hence the idea of standardizing of secondary schools was born. After initial discussions, the committee made the recommendation to form Conferences of ten members representing colleges and universities, school, and the community to oversee each subjects and make specific recommendations. These subjects were: Latin, Greek, English and other modern languages, mathematics, and later at the high school, physics, astronomy, chemistry, natural history, history civil government, political economy, and geography.


Impact on Best Practices

The schools started to adapt these guidelines and standards the following year which marks the beginning of standardized training, teaching and testing and helped shape today’s schools. These changes not only have affected on secondary schools, but also in high schools as well as modifying college entrance requirements.


Problems or Failures

Initially, adapting and changing to new standards was time consuming and expensive and met some resistance. Today, we are still struggleling with many of these issues partly because they are ever changing demographic of our society and partly because of the ever changing research, methods, discoveries, and available resources.


Other Interesting Facts

While state standards were established early on, today, we are still struggleling with adapting and following national standards and accountability.


Impact on Others

The Committee of Ten established general guidelines that we still use today in our secondary schools which paved the way to some high school subjects as well. The committee took the first step to provide strategies, guidelines, and teacher training that would help future generations. Tanner and Tanner 2007 states, “His (president Charles W. Eliot) concerns had been brewing for some time. Influenced by Spencer’s work, Eliot (1869) proposed a “new education,” based on the sciences (pure and applied), mathematics, and modern European languages. (pg. 29)  As stated in the report by the Center for the Study of Mathematics Curriculum “Many mathematics textbooks published during the next 20 years cited the Committee of Ten in their preface and purported to reflect their recommendations.” From early on the Committee of Ten made recommendation on five common content areas. According to Wiles and Bondi, “In the same year (1892, Eliot’s Committee of Ten began advocating five common content areas (his “windows on the soul”) to serve as college entrance prerequisites for all students, regardless of their home state. 2011 ( pg. 13)



Tanner, Daniel, and Tanner, Laurel, (2007). Curriculum development: Theory into practice. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.


Wiles, W. Jon and Bondi, C Joseph (2011) Curriculum development: A guide to practice. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.


http://www.archive.org/details/reportofcomtens00natirich (Full report available for download)






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