The academic aspect of education was thereby treated as “an afterthought.” This philosophy quickly became deeply entrenched—indeed dominant—in the schools of education and teachers’ colleges.

Contrast the Cardinal Principles with the NEA educational guidelines of 1893, a mere twenty-five years earlier. In that year, the Commission of Ten, headed by Harvard’s Charles Eliot, spelled out the reasons for academic training:

As studies in language and in the natural sciences are best adapted to cultivate the habits of observation; as mathematics are the traditional training of the reasoning faculties … so history and its allied branches are better adapted than any other studies to promote the invaluable mental power which we call judgment.

Presumably, Eliot and other commission members recognized the same truth later expressed by philosopher George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

But study of history in American schools was about to be eviscerated. Before the CRSE, most high schools offered (even required) a four-year development in history that covered ancient, European, English, and American history. But now, the CRSE created a new field called “Social Studies.” History, according to the new curriculum designers, had little if any social purpose. Social Studies would.

The CRSE was composed of sixteen (later seventeen) committees. The Committee on Social Studies was headed by Thomas Jesse Jones, a noted advocate of industrial and trade education and one of the first to use the term “social studies.” This new field was a farrago of elements, including some history, but focusing on “social efficiency, or teaching students the skills and attitudes necessary to fit into the social order.”