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By A. Hartman

Presently after the Russians introduced Sputnik in 1957, Hannah Arendt quipped that “only in the US might a situation in schooling truly develop into an element in politics.”  The chilly conflict conflict for the yank institution – dramatized yet no longer initiated through Sputnik – proved Arendt right. the colleges served as a battleground within the ideological conflicts of the 1950s.  starting with the family tree of revolutionary schooling, and finishing with the formation of latest Left and New correct proposal, schooling and the chilly warfare bargains a clean point of view at the postwar transformation in U.S. political tradition when it comes to an exam of the tutorial historical past of that period.

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They taught revisionist histories of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction at a time when most professional historians rarely read such scholarship. 32 That communists had taken such a keen interest in the schools, a place of concern typically reserved for liberal or progressive reformers, was consistent with the political activities being undertaken by the larger American communist movement during its Popular Front stage. But the educational Popular Front was shattered before it really even began, thanks, in no small part, to Linville’s decision in 1933 to attempt to purge the union of the radicals.

For example, if knowledge was relative to a specific historical time and place, then how were intellectuals to prioritize one idea over another? And if historical understanding was also relative in that it was underpinned by our spatial and temporal existence, then how were historians supposed to order historical knowledge? These problems in epistemology were made more perplexing by the increasing tendency of intellectuals to conflate epistemology with political ideology. For instance, for a short time, Beard became one of the leading advocates of incorporating social studies into the secondary curriculum, in part because of his relativist understanding of history, but also because he believed that social studies was more JOHN DEWEY AND THE INVENTION OF CHILDHOOD 27 likely to contribute to the reconstruction of existing social institutions—institutions that in his mind had been rendered illegitimate by the Great Depression.

On the one hand, social studies emerged because it was believed to be more efficient than history as a way to teach citizenship. Social studies focused on knowledge, historical or otherwise, that was considered immediate and relevant, as opposed to history, a discipline in which some of the knowledge learned would presumably go unused. Social studies was first introduced at black vocational colleges, including Tuskegee and Hampton, understood as a better means to “civilize” blacks. Shortly thereafter, it was extended to secondary schools across the county when the Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education, the same NEA group that sanctioned the Cardinal Principles, endorsed the widespread implementation of social studies.

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