It was Lemuel Shattuck who, in presenting the report of the Sanitary Commission of Massachusetts, in 1850, fathered the idea that American schools should instruct all children and youth in matters relating to health and hygiene. Not until 1918, however, did the idea receive the official stamp of approval that schools do, indeed, have a responsibility for the health and health education of the child. At this time the Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education recognized health, including health education, as one of seven major objectives to guide secondary education in American public schools. Originally described as the seven cardinal principles of American secondary education, these objectives were immediately recognized as ones which might well guide all American public education. So they became, and so they remain.
It is of significance, as one views these and subsequent developments in retrospect, that 1918 was little more than 40 years ago.