Since the birth of our nation and since the beginning of public schools in Boston we have agonized as to what we should teach our children. The basic problem has been whether we teach the young person for a job or do we teach the young to be educated. I don't know how many words I've heard on both of those positions. And I suspect that argument will continue for many years.
Along the way many interesting tales have emerged. When the device which we now call a typewriter was first invented, women who learned to use it were called "Typewriters." They would go to a company and say, "I would like a job, I am a typewriter." The machines eventually took on the name, typewriter. Now there are children in school who have no idea what a typewriter is.
There is also a museum in Boston that supposedly has a letter written by a company that said that "this company has no intent to hire "Typewriters." You, as a customer, will always get a hand written letter such as this one." Isn't it interesting that today we are grateful if we get a boiler-plate e-mail from a company and heavens, if we try to talk to them by phone.
But the question remains, what should our children know when they finish school? Should schooling be so that each child will be able to do a job? Where does college fit in? Do we teach our children so that they are prepared for college?
Then there is that old statistic that I have always wondered about; you've seen it several times. It goes, "We will have eleven (to fifteen, depending upon the author) jobs in our lifetime of which five (up to eight and beyond) have not yet been invented." I don't know who first wrote that statement but it has been fluttering around for over a decade in various forms. Margaret Mean wrote something to this effect, that "we should teach our children to walk along paths that we have yet to see." Either way the question as to what to teach our children remains.
Another old saw to worry us is the statement that there will be one hundred and thirty seven new jobs invented in our lifetime. Okay! I've got three to go! I'm teasing. New jobs are being designed, composed, invented, though up, by the hundreds everyday. Given all this "new stuff," what should a person learn?
I've just re-read then ending to Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education where she suggests what we use to teach in the classroom: the arts, reading, writing, science, social studies, arithmetic, literature, and so on should be the focus for our present day curriculum. To some extent I agree, but I noted that she left out keyboarding, googling, computer skills, internet skills, and ethics. I'm not surprised as I believe her to be a true idealist. I found her last chapter very interesting. I have now returned to John Dewey's Democracy and Education. (Yes, yes, all on my Kindle--more on this later.)
[A digression. A few months ago I finally found Google Scholar. What a delight. Apparently it is in Beta testing but for my dollar it is a find. I will probably be a pain to my medical team as I read all the latest on heart problems. Type Google Scholar and ask your question. You will be surprised]
With Google Scholar I finally find Leslie Briggs' book on Instructional Design and the Curriculum (Sequencing of Instruction in Relation to Hierarchies of Instruction), published about 1967.