Typical Elementary School Curriculum From the 1960s
June 20, 2010 7:13 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find an example of an American public elementary school curriculum from the early-to-mid 1960s? I'm particularly interested in the fourth and fifth grades -- what books did they read, what kind of math and science was typically taught, etc.
posted by bagadonuts to Education (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you cannot find something online, I am willing to email my fourth grade teacher to ask. I was in 4th grade circa 1970ish. He is still working in education. I emailed him a year ago. He is also the type to save his lesson plans. I do remember reading a book called, "The trouble with Jenny's Ear" about a girl who could hear your thoughts. Cute book. For science in fifth grade, one of my strong memories is going to a place called Garvies Point on the north shore of Long Island to look for indian artifacts and check out the different types of rock and earth layers.

Memail me if you want me to contact my fourth grade teacher.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:05 PM on June 20, 2010

IDK about the public school stuff but I can tell you what kind of young reader books Scholastic was hustling: space Space SPACE!

couple titles owned by my brother (b. 1960) off the top of my head:

Matthew Looney's Voyage to the Earth
The Runaway Robot
You Will Go To The Moon

I read them too - they were awesome. Full of optimism and empathy for other intelligent beings.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:09 PM on June 20, 2010

George DeBoer (of Project 2061, AAAS) wrote a book called A History of Ideas in Science Education, that will answer the science portion of your question.

In short, the launch of Sputnik in '57 was basically a kick in the butt for the US to begin considering, very seriously, how we educate scientists. Thus, the science education of the '60s brought an onslaught of "we gotta prepare kids to become scientists so that we can be competitive with other countries." This led to much attention focused on the development of curriculum materials to prepare students to learn science in college. This is discussed in greater detail in DeBoer's book.
posted by franc.o.bolos at 3:55 AM on June 21, 2010

Some years back I got a copy of What Ivan Knows That Johnny Doesn't at a library book sale (definitely did not pay $62 for it). You can read a TIME review of it from 1961. It's a comparison of the Soviet and American curricula for ten-year-olds during that era. If you can find it at a library, it might help to answer your question.
posted by hat at 5:37 AM on June 21, 2010

We used SRA - Science Research Associates which was a box in the back of the room and if you finished your work you could go back there and check out a "unit" from the box, read it, and then take a little test. All the nerds would compete to finish all the color-coded levels in the box. It wasn't as much about science as it was about reading comprehension.

And we also read the Weekly Reader which always had some science news in it.

As far as seeing examples maybe you could search on eBay.
posted by cda at 6:51 AM on June 21, 2010

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