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Worth, What Knowledge is of

  • By: William H. Schubert
  • In: Encyclopedia of Curriculum Studies
  • Edited by: Craig Kridel
  • Subject:Cultural Studies (general), Curriculum & Content (general), Curriculum Studies

In his 1861 book, Education: Intellectual, Moral, and Physical, Herbert Spencer coined the phrase, “What knowledge is of most worth?” He used it as a chapter title, upon which he developed his Social Darwinist response that argued for knowledge that fosters human self-preservation as the knowledge of most worth. Although Lester Frank Ward, John Dewey, and others who followed to create curriculum studies disagreed profoundly with Spencer's doctrine of survival of the fittest relative to human society and education, his emphasis on knowledge that is most worthwhile persisted as a salient issue of the curriculum field throughout both its curriculum development era (circa 1900 to 1970) and its curriculum studies era (1970 to present).

The question posed by Spencer captured an interest within the long history ...

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