Moving forward, the report declared, the schools would “concern themselves less with academic matters than with the preparation for effective living”—that is, for playing one’s part in the scientifically engineered society. This meant curtailing courses that would enable students to reason independently and amplifying those that would imbue students with a passion for pursuing the “common good.”
There were seven “cardinal principles” (or “main objectives”) to be emphasized henceforth in American schools. One was “Health,” which involved the schools in teaching personal hygiene and emphasizing a “love for clean sport.”
A second was “Command of Fundamental Processes,” which involved teaching basic cognitive skills. In regard to this objective, Professor Richard Mitchell, the famed “Underground Grammarian,” comments, “About the other ‘main objectives,’ they have a lot to say… . When they have called for Command of Fundamental Processes, that’s it. They proceed at once to Worthy Home-membership, a main objective much more to their liking.” Because Command of Fundamental Processes was the only objective to refer specifically to academic education, the Progressive educators deemed it insufficiently important to warrant further elaboration.
The third objective, as Mitchell notes above, was “Worthy Home-membership,” which would ensure that every high school girl would be taught the rules of proper family management.
The fourth was “Vocation,” later known as “Industrial Arts” or shop class, which would teach blue-collar employment skills.
Fifth was “Civics,” a field of study to replace history. Herein the CRSE revealed its deepest values. As Charles Sykes notes, the commissioners
who wrote the Cardinal Principles were especially uninterested in the U.S. Constitution and the ideas of the Founding Fathers. Civics [in their view] should concern itself less with constitutional questions and [more] with … the informal activities of daily life that … seek the common good. Such agencies as child welfare organizations … afford specific opportunities for the expression of civic qualities.