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The Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education

Page history last edited by Theresa H. Alonso 12 years, 10 months ago

The Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education (Link to Bulletin)

Presented by Theresa Alonso

Historical Context


Created by the National Education Association

Clarence D. Kingsley -- Chairman of the Commission during 1918


The Commission focused on making secondary education purposeful and common across the United States in preparing pupils for purposeful lives and college opportunities. The climatically publication within the education system for The Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education was the development of the 7 Cardinal Principles, published in 1918.



The Commission was formed of sixteen committees whose sole responsibility was issuing various reports based on the performance of schools and the curriculum. In 1913, a reviewing committee was added to revise reports and have continued correspondence between all other committees throughout the year. The reviewing committee also met at least twice a year for up to six days. In 1918, after three years of revision, the reviewing committee published a report on the fundamental principles of secondary education, becoming the foundation for education throughout the country.


Purpose of Reform

"Secondary education should be determined by the needs of the society to be served, the character of the individuals to be educated, and the knowledge of educational theory and practice available" (Bureau of Education, 1918, pg. 7).

  •      Society is always changing, therefore education should change to meet the new needs presented within the societal structures.
  •      Change within the amount and type of students is constant, therefore education requires changes to meet those needs.
  •     Knowledge of education theory and practice is changing, therefore educational practices and goals should change to accommodate those findings.


7 Cardinal Principles Established by Bulletin, 1918, No.35

  • Health
Instruction in the area of Health is vital to the student population in cultivating healthy work and play habits that incorporates physical activities with a sense of clean sports. It is vital and important to society to provide Health instruction from competent teachers in a clean facility where hygiene will be promoted.  
  • Command of Fundamental Processes
Continued education in the areas of reading, writing, and arithmetic should be found within the secondary education system to provide adequate preparation for students. Instruction should include theory and practice at incremental gains
  •  Worthy Home-Membership 
Boys and girls should receive education in the development of the qualities of roles needed to make a household the fundamental institution of social interactions. Girls should predominately understand the importance of the arts to help create a more beautiful home through music and art. Girls should also understand the importance of household budgets, sanitation, and food values as they will not be in industry long and will take care of the household.  
  • Vocation
Surveys and personal best abilities should guide a student to securing himself a livelyhood. Education in the area of home, shop, farm, and office will be dependent upon school facilities and vocations of interest so students will receive adequate training and preparation. 
  • Civic Education
The duties of men within the cooperation of the neighborhood, city, state and nation should  be presented with relations to other nations. Students should feel responsible for the nation through the use of education presenting historical references
  •  Worthy Use of Leisure
Students should be educated in the areas of music, art, literature, and drama to help cultivate avocations for the recreation of mind, body, spirit, and personal development. Opportunities within the  school setting will provide students with the needed models for later in life such as the school pageant and school festival. 
  • Ethical Character 
The development of ethical character is paramount for the secondary education system and should be found within all subject areas as an underlying tone of personal responsibility, initiative, and service from interactions between students, teachers, and principles.  


Impact on Best Practices

Education now became centered on students lives after secondary education where the roles of individuals were instructed and prepared based on the needs of society at that time. Girls were educated in reference to their gender role during the time period, expecting to understand the needs of a household and to acquire the skills necessary to complete those tasks within a family oriented home foundation. While girls could go into the work force, the time frame of this expenditure would be short lived and a side journey to the necessary purpose of family life. Boys were expected to receive education in the areas of a skill where they could support their family monetarily while gaining interests in another area such as music or art. The Commission was constructing an education based on their idea of an ideal society and the needs and skills necessary for those citizens to be productive and populous.


Other Interesting Facts

While the pinnacle publication in the history of education for the Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education is found within the 7 Cardinal Purposes, there were other publications presented to the public including one on Morality.



Department of the Interior Bureau of Education. (1918). Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education a Report of the Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education.(Bulletin, 1918, No. 35). Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.


Neumann, Henry. Moral values in secondary education. (Bulletin, 1917, No. 51 \). Washington, DC: Govt. Print. Off. 


Teachers College Record Volume 56 Number 6, 1955, p. 295-308 http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 4696, Date Accessed: 5/28/2011 10:09:06 AM 



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