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 military-related values, the program creates constructive classroom sessions and activities that help to prepare cadets for the future.

Where Did JROTC Begin? Though JROTC actually began its history with a program in 1911, the JROTC program as we know it today 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.