John Franklin Bobbitt

He graduated from the Indiana University. He worked as a teacher from 1903 to 1907 at the Philippine Normal School. In 1909, he earned his doctorate degree from theClark University. Then, he worked as a professor at the University of Chicago. He is seen as the father of curriculum because he is the first curriculum professor in the United States (Smiley, 1992; Winfield, 2004). Both his grandfather and father worked as a teacher and minister. Bobbitt’s grandfather and father lived in a very strict and religious way, and growing in this strict milieu affected his work. Hence, he emphasized the importance of discipline, religious faith, and social needs in terms of developing curriculum (Smiley, 1992). Bobbitt was a social efficiency advocate (Apple, 2009). According to him, curriculum could be described as a tool for preparing students for their adult roles in the new industrial society. Bobbitt believed that curriculum should include behavioral goals, which help to educate students how to gain a good life (Null, 1999). Moreover, Bobbitt claimed that the procedures for curriculum planning should be considered as job analysis (Hlebowitsh, 2005). He thought that job analysis could be beneficial to determine specific activities, which are useful for adults to undertake their social roles, such as a family member, a worker, and a citizenship. He retired from the University of Chicago in 1941.
Bobbitt conducted two important surveys that are study of The San Antonio Public School System (1914) and Curriculum Making in Los Angeles (1922).
Bobbitt published his first book namely What the Schools Teach and Might Teach in 1915. In 1918 he wrote his most famous book, The Curriculum, which is the first book that particularly focused on curriculum field. In 1924, he published How to Make a Curriculum. In this book he focused on developing curriculum, and he grounded his theory on principles of scientific management (Smiley, 1992).
His other significant books are:
The Growth of Philippine Children (1909)
Curriculum Principles (1922)
Curriculum Investigations (1926)
The Curriculum of Modern Education (1941)
Bobbitt is an important theorist for public school curricular in the United States. In his early works, he highlighted the importance of keeping cultural and religious identity. He adopted eugenic ideology, and mental discipline was basis of his curriculum theory (Apple, 2009; Hlebowitsh, 2005; Bobbitt, 1909; Null, 1999; Winfield, 2004). His personal experiences related to his family’s strict religious position were reflected Bobbitt’s works. Additionally, his academic experiences he gained when he studied at the University of Indiana had strong influences on his studies (Smiley, 1992). Therefore, his early works consisted of his experiences relevant to his milieu he grew in and his academic life as a public school student and as a public school teacher had a significant impact on his early works. However, Bobbitt realized that the field of curriculum should be more than the information that he obtained from his experiences (Hilebowitsh, 2005; Smiley, 1992). This triggered him to conduct surveys and studies about curriculum. According to all his early studies, Bobbitt claimed that schooling is important to prepare students to adult life, and specific activities should fit children’s abilities Additionally, these activities should be appropriate for community’s needs (Apple, 2009). Moreover, he strongly suggested that individuals should continue their education until age 18 to 20 (Null, 1999). Bobbitt advocated the scientific and efficiency-based management curriculum. As clearly seen, in his early works his position was conservative scientism. The surveys he administered, however, made him embrace the progressive child-centered manner.


In his later works, he returned his earlier position, which was functionalism. He emphasized the necessity of general education and intellectual development. He described ‘good life’, and he stated that to develop individual’s intellect is crucial to general education (Scates, 1950; Apple, 2009). He also claimed that developing the individuals’ intellect makes each of them free. This provides to find their own and to control themselves (Null, 1999). In his later works, Bobbitt advocated test-driven curricula and competency-based instruction (Null, 1999; Smiley, 1992). Null (1999) stated four basic components of Bobbitt’s final works as follows:
1. An emphasis on the importance of general education,
2. The inability to predetermine future lives and roles of students,
3. The necessity for schools to develop individuals' intellect rather than to train them for work,
4. A respect for many of the classic authors of "great books" from the Western tradition (p 2). 


Bobbitt led the emergence and development of curriculum field in 20th century.
He is one of the first theorists who believed curriculum making should begin to identify objectives, which address individuals’ functions as a family member, worker, and citizenship along with the needs of the community (Apple, 2009; Levine, 2002; Smiley 1992).
His scientific approach influenced many curriculum theorists.
He mentioned that particularized and preparatory activities are essential, and these activities should be based on students’ abilities.
He worked to formalize and legitimize field of curriculum development.

Apple, M. W. (2009). Ideology and Curriculum. Routledge Falmer 3. Edition.
Bobbitt, J. B. (1909). Practical eugenics. Pedagogical Seminary, V 16, p 385-394.
Hlebowitsh, P. S. (2005). Designing the school curriculum. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.
Levine, D. (2002). The Milwaukee Platoon School Battle: Lessons for activist teachers. The Urban Review, 34(1), 47-69. Retrieved May 17, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 2143770551).
Scates, D. E. (1950). With the researchers. Journal of Teacher Education Vol: 1 Issue: 3, 225 – 230.
Null, J. (1999). Efficiency jettisoned: unacknowledged changes in the curriculum thought of John Franklin Bobbitt. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 15(1), 35-42. Retrieved from Education Full Text database.
Smiley, Frederick Melvin (1992). "Indoctrinations," "survey and curriculum science," and "transitional philosophy": A three-stage reassessment of Franklin Bobbitt. Ed.D. dissertation, Oklahoma State University, United States -- Oklahoma.
Winfield, Ann Gibson (2004). Eugenics and education: Implications of ideology, memory, and history for education in the United States. Ph.D. dissertation, North Carolina State University, United States -- North Carolina.