Committee of Ten
Across the nation and within communities there were competing academic philosophies which the Committee of Ten aimed to resolve. One philosophy favored rote memorization, whereas another favored critical thinking. One philosophy designated American high schools as institutions that would divide students into college-bound and working-trades groups from the start. These institutions sometimes further divided students based on race or ethnic background. Another philosophy attempted to provide standardized courses for all students. Somewhat similarly, another philosophy promoted classic Latin/Greek studies, whereas other philosophies stressed practical studies.
Membership of the Committee of Ten
To resolve these issues, the National Education Association formed The 1892 Committee of Ten. The committee was largely composed of representatives of higher education. Its subgroups, consisting of eight to ten members each, were convened by the following individuals:
- Charles William Eliot, President of Harvard University, Cambridge, MA Chairman
- William T. Harris, Commissioner of Education, Washington, DC
- James B. Angell, President of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
- John Tetlow, Head Master of the Girls’ High School, Boston, MA
- James M. Taylor, President of Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY
- Oscar D. Robinson, Principal of the High School, Albany, NY
- James H. Baker, President of the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
- Richard Henry Jesse, President of the University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
- James C. Mackenzie, Head Master of the Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, NJ
- Henry C. King, Professor in Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH.
The committee provided its recommendations in a report that answered an initial set of eleven questions, and outlined important curricular knowledge within each major instructional specialty including Latin, Greek, English, 'Other Modern Languages', Mathematics, and the Sciences (Physics, Chemistry and Astronomy).
Twelve years of education were recommended, with eight years of elementary education followed by four years of high school. The committee was explicitly asked to address tracking, or course differentiation based upon postsecondary pursuit. The committee responded unanimously that "...every subject which is taught at all in a secondary school should be taught in the same way and to the same extent to every pupil so long as he pursues it, no matter what the probable destination of the pupil may be, or at what point his education is to cease."  In addition to promoting equality in instruction, they stated that by unifying courses of study, school instruction and the training of new teachers could be greatly simplified.
These recommendations were generally interpreted as a call to teach English, mathematics, and history or civics to every student every academic year in high school. The recommendations also formed the basis of the practice of teaching biology, chemistry, and physics, respectively, in ascending high school academic years. However, these recommendations were found to have had modest impact on direct instruction after ten years' time.
Their recommendations may have also had an impact on teacher preparation and credentialing. The Committee identified the need for more highly qualified educators, and proposed that universities could enhance training by offering subject-education courses, lowering tuition and paying travel fees for classroom teachers and that superintendents, principals or other "leading teachers" could show other teachers, "... by precept and example, how do [teach] better".
- Hertzberg, Hazel W. (Feb 1988). Foundations. The 1892 Committee of Ten. Social Education, v52 n2. ERIC EJ365372.
- Report of the Committee of Ten on Secondary School Studies: With the Reports ... - National Education Association of the United States. Committee of Ten on Secondary School Studies - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-11-03.
- National Education Association of the United States. Committee of Ten on Secondary School Studies. (1894). Report of the Committee of ten on secondary school studies: with the reports of the conferences arranged by the committee. Pub. for the National Education Association by the American Book Co.. p. 17.
- Dexter, Edwin G. (April 1906). "Ten Years' Influence of the Report of the Committee of Ten". The School Review 14 (4): 254–269.
- National Education Association of the United States. Committee of Ten on Secondary School Studies. (1894). Report of the Committee of ten on secondary school studies: with the reports of the conferences arranged by the committee. Pub. for the National Education Association by the American Book Co.. pp. 53–54.