The paper outlines the reception of Schwab’s essay ‘The practical: A language for curriculum’ in German-speaking countries in the 1970s and 1980s. The story is a good demonstration of the ways in which different circumstances and phases of development determine transatlantic
exchanges and the influence of concepts in the field of education, and especially of curriculum. The central ideas of Joseph J. Schwab’s concept of curriculum theory and curriculum-making were related to the traditions of general Didaktik in the German-speaking world. It would
have been well suited for a reception. Nevertheless, the reception the essay received was at first not a story of success; on the contrary, we have to diagnose a historical neglect. Circumstances today are much better for rethinking Schwab’s analysis under the new conditions of standardizing
and competence-oriented curriculum policies.