November 12, 2015, by Paige Maslen – The JROTC, or Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, is a federal program with origins in the National Defense Act of 1916. The primary purpose of the program was, and is, to develop characteristics and skills in cadets and students, that will help to enrich their future. Indeed, the primary mission of the JROTC program was once described as a way to motivate young men into becoming better members of society. As such, the program attempts to instill moral characteristics and professional talents into cadets. Often, cadets enrolled into a JROTC curriculum will receive opportunities and experiences unrivaled by other organizations and high schools. Through army-related values, the program creates constructive classroom sessions and activities that help to prepare cadets for the future.
Where Did JROTC Begin?
Though the Air Force JROTC began its history with a program in 1911, the JROTC program as we know it began as a result of the National Defense Act of 1916. When this legislation passed, it meant that military training resources could unite together under one federal umbrella allowing colleges, high schools, and other education facilities to obtain supply funding and military-trained instructors from an ROTC organization. The U.S. Code, Title 10, Section 2031, defines how such programs are available to provide students with a minimum of three years of military instruction, alongside funded access to academic materials, uniforms, and instructors with experience serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The purpose of this access to military-inspired training was to provide students in secondary education throughout the United States with crucial social values – such as discipline, leadership, citizenship, and personal responsibility. In 1964, the Vitalization Act allowed for the concept of JROTC, and all that it stood for to expand into other areas, and services, meaning that retired armed forces members could begin teaching young cadets. Since then, numbers provided by the U.S. Army have surged over the years, with ROTC enrollment increasing by 50% between 2006 and 2012.
The History of the JROTC Curriculum
Since the very beginning of JROTC, the curriculum for learning has centered on encouraging cadets to participate in activities and studies that get them accustomed to a certain way of thinking and behaving. The curriculum leans on pillars of learner-centered, performance-based education, which links to national instructional leadership resource standards. During their education, cadets may participate in classes that examine their skills of leaderships, geography, civics, health, global awareness, life skills, and U.S. history. Every lesson they take actively engages students into higher skill performance, and tests their problem-solving skills.
Courses will generally cover some military-related subjects, ranging from those covering physical fitness, personal hygiene, and first aid, to lessons on drill instruction and self-discipline. The aim is to provide an environment that nourishes leadership skills and emphasizes core values and abilities that will prove useful throughout the cadet’s life. Students will engage in purposeful, meaningful lessons that lead them to demonstrate success through various accomplishments.
The Benefits of JROTC Programs
There are many reasons why students should be encouraged to explore their strengths and limitations through the challenges posed by JROTC programs. Some students feel compelled to take part in such courses as a way of following in family footsteps, whereas others join with the hope of accessing greater opportunities upon graduation. Some young men join JROTC out of a sense of patriotism towards their country. The outcomes of such a program can include:
● An unrivaled opportunity to develop leadership and technical skills
● A structured path into college following their high school education
● Professional education and long-term guidance
● Better skills when working with a team and expressing self-discipline
According to scientific and social research, the character benefits that can occur as a result of JROTC programs are significant. Indeed, a 2006 study conducted by Joseph A. Santora found that most students involved in such a program believed they had cultivated better leadership skills, self-discipline, and self-esteem. Many former cadets commend the program for its ability to assist them in gaining confidence and proficiency when it comes to making decisions and implanting strategies and solutions for problem solving. What’s more, students involved in the action-orientated approach to learning that JROTC encompasses, have displayed an ability to achieve higher grades and show better academic performance. Many cadets even consider participation in JROTC to be a good way of getting involved with their campus community and forming bonds with other students.
JROTC Facilitates Long-Lasting Success
The JROTC program has achieved success for various reasons. In part, the outstanding efforts of professional instructors, and the dedicated youths willing to work hard to achieve various accomplishments are responsible. On the other hand, JROTC offers benefits in the fact that it is a “different” approach to learning, which cultivates citizenship, leadership, and numerous other important qualities.
Research suggests that the benefits of JROTC programs in regards to discipline and education can continue to assist cadets throughout the whole of their lives by helping them to hone their personal strength and improve self-confidence. Just a few years of training within a JROTC program can be enough to encourage young cadets to take their first steps into leadership roles and work more actively within their education to achieve a specific goal. Whether it’s in school sports, group assignments, or the journey to accomplish personal goals, the skills that students learn through JROTC can prove useful throughout many different walks of life.
JROTC encompasses the study of ethics, life skills, and citizenship as a way of preparing young men to take their place within society and motivate them on the path to becoming better citizens. We all recognize the importance of leadership when it comes to shaping the future, and by instilling young cadets with the right attitudes and behaviors now, it could be possible for us to not only improve their lives, but make their futures brighter too.
About the Author: Paige Maslen is the Associate Director of Marketing, Media, and Public Relations at Army and Navy Academy, a private military boarding school in San Diego County, California. Her specialties include strategy and content for the school’s digital properties. In her free time, Paige enjoys hiking, tennis, and yoga.