Education and the Cold War: The Battle for the American School
February 9, 2008
Shortly after the Russians launched Sputnik in 1957, Hannah Arendt quipped that “only in America could a crisis in education actually become a factor in politics.” The Cold War battle for the American school – dramatized but not initiated by Sputnik – proved Arendt correct. The schools served as a battleground in the ideological conflicts of the 1950s. Beginning with the genealogy of progressive education, and ending with the formation of New Left and New Right thought, Education and the Cold War offers a fresh perspective on the postwar transformation in U.S. political culture by way of an examination of the educational history of that era.
“In contemporary American culture, ‘the conservative 1950s’ have become something of a cliché. Hartman’s smart book gives new historical substance to the term, showing us how–and why–our schools turned Right during the Cold War. Even better, he makes us question whether the schools ever really turned back.”–Jonathan Zimmerman, Professor of Education and History, New York University
“Hartman is a wise and sensible guide through the thickets of historical flow, economic structure, political condition and cultural context. An encounter with Education and the Cold War is fortification for the important struggles ahead.”–William Ayers, University of Illinois at Chicago; Author of Teaching Toward Freedom
Introduction: An American Crisis * John Dewey and the Invention of Childhood: Progressive Education in the Beginning * Education as Great Depression Experience: The Unraveling of the Popular Front and the Roots of Educational Vigilantism * From Hot War to Cold War for Schools and Teenagers: The Life Adjustment Movement and the Ideology of Maturity * Communist Teacher Problematic: Liberal Anticommunism and the Education of Bella Dodd * Progressive Education is Red-ucation: Conservative Thought and Cold War Educational Vigilantism * Crisis of the Mind: The Liberal Intellectuals and the Schools * From World-Mindedness to Cold War-Mindedness: The Lost Educational Utopia of Theodore Brameld * Desegregation as Cold War Experience: The Perplexities of Race in he Blackboard Jungle* Growing Up Absurd in the Cold War: Sputnik and the Polarized Sixties * Conclusion: The Educational Reproduction of the Cold War
Andrew Hartman is Assistant Professor of History, Illinois State University.