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Recapitulation, Theory of

The theory of recapitulation asserts that the development of the individual retraces the development of the human race; it is the theory that the stages of psychological development of the individual correspond with the stages of sociological development—in other words, that individuals pass through the same linear stages as those through which cultures have passed. This theory made a pervasive impact on educational theory and curriculum between 1890 and 1920, and traces of the theory can be found decades later. This entry briefly traces the rise and fall of the theory of recapitulation, describes some of the ways in which the theory was applied to curriculum design, and identifies some of its long-term effects.

In a broad sense, the idea that individual development retraces the development ...

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