SPUTNIK IN AMERICAN EDUCATION: A HISTORY AND REAPPRAISAL
AbstractAfter a decade during which Americans have suffered through the Vietnam war, assassinations of national leaders, racial conflict, the burning of cities, the 1968 Democratic Convention, Kent State, Attica, the drug scene, Watergate, and other outrageous events, it is difficult to remember that there was a time not so long ago when they thought the biggest problem they had to worry about was a Russian satellite orbiting in space. The launching of Sputnik on October 5, 1957, seems very remote and unimportant now. In fact, Most Americans today might wish that a space race with the Russians was the most serious problem they faced. At the time, however, Sputnik truly frightened them and subsequently helped bring about changes in American education which are just beginning to be assessed and placed in perspective. A reexamination of the impact of Sputnik on American education is not only interesting in its own right but also provides additional support for the revisionists' claim that educational reform is never undertaken primarily in the interests of youth but rather in the interests of preserving the existing social order, and that the young are viewed by their elders not primarily as ends in themselves but as so many pawns to be played in the game of maintaining that order.
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