Topics in the News
Expansion of the Federal Role in Education
Kennedy Learns from Failure.
Congress renewed the National Defense Education Act of 1958 for two more years in 1961. However, President John F. Kennedy wanted new and much more sweeping programs to improve conditions for both students and teachers. The Kennedy administration pressed vigorously for federal aid from 1961 to 1963, but political opponents objecting to the form that aid might take branded the program a fiasco. Perhaps this failure was a blessing, however. Francis Keppel, then dean of Harvard School of Education, was an adviser who helped draft proposed legislation in 1960. As he later recalled, "We came up with a report that, had it been adopted, would probably have broken the federal government's bank in no time at all." The funds were to go only to public schools since President Kennedy, a Catholic, was unwilling to risk his slender political majority by supporting federal spending for parochial schools. Catholic politicians wanted money for parochial schools, and some Republicans and southern Democrats wanted no bill at all, primarily because of attached desegregation riders. An inability to compromise spelled disaster for this first proposal, but by 1963 Kennedy had succeeded. When he was assassinated in Dallas, his major achievement in the field, the Higher Education Facilities Act of 1963, was on its way to Senate approval. When President Lyndon Johnson signed it into law...
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The Changing Curriculum
A Different Look at Language.
During the 1960s, students at all levels not only studied newly offered subjects, they also found many familiar disciplines taught in such a different way as to be almost unrecognizable. The National Defense Education Act, which had been extended from its original 1958 version, had introduced foreign-language education into hundreds of schools that had not previously offered it. By 1966 more than three thousand undergraduates were getting intensive training in thirty-six languages during summer programs at more than twenty-two institutions through provisions in that act. Many of these students were later employed in secondary schools, so that more high-school students than ever had a chance to learn a second language. For elementary and secondary students studying their native language, some dramatic changes were in store. Advances in the study of English by linguists Paul Postal and Noam Chomsky at MIT had created new vantage points from which to examine the structure of language. Working with research funds from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and the National Science Foundation, these linguists proposed a new conceptual framework of language that came to be called transformational generative grammar. In 1966 linguist Paul Roberts translated this theory into practice when he published sets of English textbooks in transformational grammar for students in grades...
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College Officials and the Morals Revolution
How Student Unrest Changed Higher Education
Philosophical Shifts in October of 1969.
Harold Taylor, author of Students Without Teachers: The Crisis in the University (1969), reflected on the student revolution that raged on campuses across America during the mid 1960s. "It became clear that it was no longer possible to stand slack-jawed while we made reports about civil disorders and studies of urban problems," he explains. "We could no longer stand quietly by while history rushed forward." Sometime in the mid 1960s students and society reached the end of an era, he claims, and the first protest at Berkeley in 1964 provided the "possibility of hope" for students who had never considered the possibility of revolt against their own educational systems. Risen from the civil rights movement, this revolt produced changes in curriculum, in student regulations, in policy-making decisions, and in how colleges in general did business with students. By the end of the decade,
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The Origins of Bilingual Education
Cuban Émigrés and the Miami Educational System.
In 1961 the educational system in Miami was trans-formed by the thousands of Cuban refugees pouring into south Florida as they escaped the Castro regime. Over seven hundred émigrés from academia, including over four hundred Havana University professors, took jobs as stevedores, gardeners, and janitors. The U.S. government investigated many proposals to get these Cubans into positions at U.S. colleges after they improved their English skills, and the University of Miami Medical School provided a three-night-per-week program to teach Cuban medical doctors so that they could qualify for U.S. practice. There was little or no grumbling on the part of the Cubans, however. As one former University of Havana law professor put it, "We're just lucky to be here." The situation in the public schools was more problematic, however. Dade County teachers struggled with over ten thousand Cuban children who were arriving at the rate of "a classroom a day." Teachers went to classes to learn Spanish at night, and the district hired 150 former Cuban teachers as Spanish-speaking assistants for classrooms.
Interest in Migrant Education.
The language barrier was not limited to Florida. The children of a significant number of Spanish-speaking migrant workers were entering schools in a steady stream from Arizona...
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Progressive Education Versus Basic Education
Shortages of Teachers, Professors
The shortage of teachers and classrooms was acute throughout the decade. In President Kennedy's "Special Message on Education" on 6 February 1963, he stressed the seriousness of the problem. One and one-half million students were housed in overcrowded classrooms, and approximately two million were studying amid "grossly substandard health and safety conditions." Salaries were too low to retain the ablest teachers, with some poorer districts offering starting annual wages as low as $3,000. Moreover, of the teachers in the classrooms, 7.2 percent held substandard certificates, affecting the quality of education for one pupil in thirteen, according to the U.S. Office of Education. Although the colleges were equally crowded, there were not enough students in teacher-training programs to ease the shortages in certain locales. In Nebraska, for example, fewer than 50 percent of qualified graduates remained to teach in the overcrowded Nebraska schools. In California, for each year in the decade nineteen thousand new teachers were needed to meet demands, but only thirteen thousand were being trained.
Vacancies in Administration, Higher Education.
Even though the ranks of educational administration and college teaching offered better pay, many of those jobs also went unfilled. In 1962 an unprecedented number of top...
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The Military Goes to School
The "Brainpower Lag."
In the fall of 1960 a U.S. captain set his compass wrong and flew over Canada, not California as planned. A major made an arithmetic error that significantly affected the fuel calculations, forcing an entire group of jets to land at the wrong airport. Observers began to question the competency of military officers. Of the air force top brass, only 43 percent of 119,000 line officers held a college degree. The military took its problem of lack of brainpower seriously, and $63 million was set aside annually for a military-education program. Among the goals were to double the number of officers with advanced degrees and to revise standards for commissions.
Classrooms in the Military.
By 1964 the military's program was in full force, and two researchers, Dr. Harold Clark of Teachers College, Columbia University, and Harold Sloan, research director at Fairleigh-Dickinson College, had spent two years evaluating it. In their book, Classrooms in the Military (1967), they describe programs serving over three hundred thousand GIs in classrooms, with nearly a million more studying by correspondence. If these military schools were placed in one contiguous area, they would exceed the acreage of New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and their subject-matter offerings ranged from the three Rs to courses required for...
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Technology and Education
In the fall of 1961 on the opening day of school, educational instruction literally took off on the wings of an elaborately equipped plane which became the equivalent of an eleven thousand-foot-high broadcasting tower. This was the Midwest Program of Airborne Televised Instruction (MPATI), which served six midwestern states with carefully taped programs of the nation's finest teachers, encompassing key subjects in the curriculum from grades one to twelve. The projected cost of this state-of-the-art technology per student, per year was estimated to be about that of a single textbook. Although by 1960 the University of Michigan had already studied the effectiveness of televised instruction for fifteen years, few districts had access to such well-crafted programs as those offered by MPATI. However, when the time came to shift the financial burden from the Ford Foundation, which had developed MPATI, to the state and local systems it served, the districts were unable to agree on paying their admittedly modest shares. The entire project foundered, and by the end of the 1960s the great boom in classroom instructional television that had begun with so much promise lost momentum.
Professors on Screen.
Higher education made use of televised instruction in a different way. On hundreds of campuses, professors taped their...
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Effects of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
When the 1960s began, six years after the Supreme Court ruling that separate schools are inherently unequal schools, many districts in the South were practicing "ingenious procrastination" rather than progressing toward desegregation. In fact, there was less actual desegregation of southern schools in 1960 than in any other year since the Supreme Court decision. Until 1964 state and school officials played an elaborate game of avoidance. However, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 empowered the U.S. Office of Education to withhold federal funds from systems failing to desegregate and empowered the U.S. Attorney General to force the process. Although the 1964-1965 school year began in eleven southern states with only 604 of 2,951 school districts having even begun the process of desegregation, by fall of 1965, 2,816 systems had filed plans defining their intentions to comply with the law. This dramatic turnaround was largely the result of the financial impact of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The efforts toward desegregation in the South proved to be only token motions in many cases, however. One typical approach was for school districts to instigate "freedom of choice" plans which granted students the opportunity to sign forms declaring the school within that district they would attend the following year. These plans did move some black students into formerly...
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Education for Mentally Handicapped Children.
Dr. Maria Montessori was a medical student in the 1890s serving as an intern in the psychiatric clinic of Rome, Italy, which housed the "idiot children" then relegated to insane asylums. Appalled by what she saw happening to these children, she began a lifelong study of mentally deficient children and then quickly extended her work to the study of normal young children. The approach to educating the very young which she pioneered in her "Homes of Children" over several decades resulted in successes that exceeded even her own expectations. In working with retarded children she transformed threeto-seven-year-olds into avid pupils who learned cleanliness, manners, "grace in action," and they became acquainted with animals and plants and with the manual arts. They got both sensory and motor training and learned rudiments of counting, reading, and writing. When, in 1912, Montessori published The Montessori Method: Scientific Pedagogy as Applied to Child Education in "the Children's Houses," people from all over the world pressed her to communicate her methods to others. In the United States there was interest at the time, but by 1917 articles in the American press had dwindled to less than five a year.
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Burner, Jerome 1915-
FOUNDER AND CODIRECTOR, CENTER FOR COGNITIVE STUDIES AT HARVARD, OXFORD UNIVERSITY NEW SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH
Study of Thinking and Learning.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, researchers were actively investigating two different areas of learning theory—operant conditioning, generally associated with B. F. Skinner, and cognitive psychology, an area of special interest for Jerome Bruner. Bruner and colleagues at Harvard's Center for Cognitive Studies were interested in studying perception, memory, and thinking in an effort to determine what techniques constitute the most effective learning situations. In 1960 Bruner issued a significant report on the deliberations of a large group of scholars, mostly scientists, who had been researching cognitive processes. This report, entitled The Process of Education, offers a sweeping hypothesis: "Any subject can be taught effectively in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development, providing attention is paid to the psychological development of the child." The implication of this study is that in a cognitive approach to learning, maximum advantage must be taken of the cognitive properties of both learners and subject matter. In other words, teachers must organize material into logical structures so that learners will, by use of their own logical processes, come to understand the...
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Conant, James B. 1893-1978
PRESIDENT OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY, U.S. HIGH COMMISSIONER TO WEST GERMANY, AMBASSADOR TO WEST GERMANY
A Spokesman for Education in the 1950s.
After leaving the presidency of Harvard in 1953, Conant became the U.S. High Commissioner and later ambassador to West Germany. In this country, however, he remained a strong voice for educational innovation during the 1950s, and his 1959 volume, The American High School Today, argues for much higher standards in American education. His call for comprehensive high schools that would meet all students' needs, regardless of their abilities and goals, was particularly important in the 1960s when attempts were made to eliminate educational inequities, especially in segregated school districts.
Assessing All Segments of the American Educational System.
During the 1960s Conant researched and wrote about all aspects of the American educational system. Slums and the Suburbs, published in 1961, closely examines...
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Erikson, Erik 1902-1994
Stage Theory of Human Development and Identity.
Erik Erikson, psychoanalyst with a Ph.D. in child psychology, is probably best known for his stage theory of human development. Erlkson's theory suggests that each stage of life, from infancy and early childhood on, is associated with a specific psychological struggle that significantly affects personality. Erikson, who coined the term identity crisis in naming that particular crisis inherent in adolescence, was an innovator whose influence shaped the emerging fields of child development and life-span studies. Defining identity as a basic confidence in one's inner continuity amid change, Erikson suggested that the emergence of this identity might be precipitated by a crisis and accompanied by intense neurotic suffering, especially for creative people. This theory had particular resonance during the 1960s, during which young people heard Erikson saying, "Your life is important; your relationship to your times is important; you can make a difference in society and you can find yourself in the process," according to Dr. Robert Wallerstein, now retired as head of the psychiatry department at the University of California, San Francisco.
Research and Writing in the 1960s.
As a professor of human development at Harvard in the 1960s, Erikson...
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Goodman, Paul 1911-1972
Outspoken Critic of the System.
Although there were numerous voices in the media during the 1960s criticizing the educational system, none was as outspoken or irreverent as Paul Goodman. Goodman, who studied classics at the University of Chicago and whose doctoral dissertation used Aristotle's Poetics to analyze and explain a body of contemporary literary works, attacked all parts of the U.S. educational system of the 1960s with an eye toward this question: What are the criteria for separating what appears to be from what really exists in academia? He looked at institutional relations as a direct confrontation with other humans, not impersonal establishments, and he staged these confrontations often and loudly. Over the decade Goodman's critiques became more and more political and therefore more and more public; the subsequent arguments he made were notable for their form, their force, and their consequences.
Schooling versus Education.
Goodman's strongest argument against the system claimed it was not merely failing to improve students, but it was actually harming them. As he writes in the preface to Compulsory Mis-Education (1964), "I do not try to be generous or fair.… We already have too much formal schooling, and the more we get, the less education we will get." Goodman did...
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Jensen, Arthur 1923-
PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY
National Furor Over Black IQ Attainment.
No other scientist researching learning gathered the national headlines or created such controversy as Arthur Jensen. His article setting forth his theory and research on the feasibility of boosting deprived children's intelligence quotients (IQs) appeared in the Harvard Educational Review, a publication that has a limited readership. However, the popular press translated his 123-page article into flat statements of only a few sentences, claiming that Jensen's conclusions were that blacks were intellectually inferior to whites according to IQ tests.
Why Jensen Was Investigating Genetic Factors.
Jensen initiated his study to document whether or not the compensatory programs that the federal government was supporting with millions of dollars were capable of making significant inroads in narrowing the gap between minority and majority pupils. Essentially, Jensen argued that in his research he found that genetic factors were much more important in determining IQ than environnmental factors. He attributed the majority of the genetic factors to prenatal influences primarily associated with the nourishment of the mother and the child. And these genetic factors, he believed, contributed to different, but not necessarily inferior,...
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Keppel, Francis 1916-1990
DEAN, HARVARD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION, U.S. COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION
Work to Improve Teaching. As dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Keppel served for fourteen years, quadrupling the enrollment and establishing the school as a site for national leadership in education. He redesigned the master of arts in teaching (MAT) degree and expanded the program. He also created the School and University Program for Research and Development (SUPRAD), which conducted pilot projects on topics such as team teaching and the use of teaching machines.
Commissioner of Education.
In his position as commissioner of education from 1962 to 1965 he worked for vastly expanded federal support of education. As the head of the 1965 Keppel Interagency Task Force, he was asked to propose programs to accomplish the following tasks:
- Relieve the doctor, nurse, and medical technician shortage, especially in light of new Medicare demands;
- Expand financial aid to middle-class college students;
- Develop a year-round preschool program;
- Refine the hastily developed ESEA Title I so as to reach more disadvantaged children;
- Devise a grant program for quality improvement to selected institutions of higher learning;
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Skinner, B. F. 1904-1990
PROFESSOR AT UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, INDIANA UNIVERSITY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY
Operant Conditioning Theory Leads to Teaching Machines.
B. F. Skinner, one of the best-known learning theorists, first attracted popular attention during the late 1950s and the 1960s. Although for decades Skinner had been actively researching how and why humans behave as they do and what role random trial and error plays in learning (for example, during World War II he had devised an operant-conditioning procedure for training pigeons to direct missile missions), it was his resounding success in teaching children with programmed learning machines that made his name easily recognizable. A pioneer in the use of automated learning, Skinner's work with colleagues in producing the first linear program for teaching introductory psychology at Harvard was widely reported, but he also devised programs for elementary-school children and for junior-high introductory algebra students. But it is Skinner's intellectual achievement in producing a philosophy of human nature appropriate to these new techniques of instruction...
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People in the News
Sylvia Ashton-Warner's Teacher, published in 1963, fascinated educators and the American public with its view of the education of the Maoris, an aboriginal people in New Zealand.
Claude Brown's 1965 autobiography of his education in Harlem before its infestation with drugs, Manchild in the Promised Land, was an important document about life and learning in a black urban environment in the 1940s and 1950s.
The Process of Education by Jerome Bruner in 1960 helped redefine learning by arguing that intellectual activity is the same whether at the frontier of knowledge or in third grade; he claimed the difference is in degree, not in kind.
The decades-long argument about phonics versus sight reading was the subject of Jeanne Chall's landmark 1967 Harvard Educational Review essay, "Learning to Read," in which she reviews all the research and makes the case for a "code emphasis" (phonics) for beginning readers.
Robert Coles, child psychiatrist, worked with both black and white children during desegregation in the South and the North; his Children of Crisis: A Study of Courage and Fear (1967) told the story of how children perceived the changes they were encountering.
Niekolaus Englehardt, whose firm specialized in engineering and...
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Ludwig Bemelmans, 64, best known for his illustrated children's books though he was also a writer of satire, 1 October 1962.
Edward H. Chamberlin, 68, professor of economics at Harvard University for more than forty years; his Theory of Monopolistic Competition attacked the theory that higher wages benefit the economy, 16 July 1967.
Sidney B. Fay, 91, historian, educator, and authority on Germany whose most important work was The Origins of the World War, 29 August 1967.
Wilfred John Funk, 83, publisher, poet, and lexicographer whose twenty-year feature in Reader's Digest, "It Pays to Increase Your Wordpower," was a vocabulary lesson for the masses, 1 June 1965.
Howard R. Garis, 89, U.S. author known for his "Uncle Wiggily" tales totaling over seventy-five books, 5 November 1962.
Virginia C. Gildersleeve, 87, U.S. educator, feminist, and internationalist, dean emeritus of Barnard College and the only woman delegate at the conference to draft the charter for the UN, 7 July 1965.
Sir Ernest Gowers, 85, British authority on English usage; revised Fowler's Modern English Usage and wrote Plain Words: Their ABC, 16 April 1966.
Sir Herbert Grierson, 94, British professor and...
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Alexander Astin, National Norms for Entering College Freshmen—Fall 1966 (Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education, 1967);
Ray Allen Billington, The Historians' Contribution to Anglo-American Misunderstanding: The Report of a Committee on Bias in Anglo-American History Textbooks (New York: Hobbs, Dorman, 1966);
William Brickman, ed., Educational Imperatives in a Changing Culture (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1966);
Philip Hall Coombs, The World Educational Crisis: A Systems Analysis (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968);
Robert Dentier, ed., The Urban R's: Race Relations as the Problem in Urban Education (New York: Center for Urban Education, 1967);
Martin Deutsch, Irwin Katz, and Arthur Robert Jensen, eds., Social Class, Race, and Psychological Development(New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1968);
Dan Dodson, Power, Conflict and Community Organizations (New York: Council for American Unity, 1961);
Education at Berkeley: Report of the Select Committee of the Berkeley Academic Senate (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968);
Careth Ellington, The Shadow Children: A Book about Children's Learning Disorders (Chicago: Topaz...
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Important Events in Education, 1960–1969
- Myron Lieberman's The Future Of Public Education predicts a revolution in all aspects of education in the coming decade.
- On January 1, ninety percent of high-school principals were men and 85 percent of elementary-school teachers were women.
- On February 20, African American students in Greensboro, North Carolina, stage a sit-in by filling seats at a lunch counter to protest refusals to serve seated African Americans.
- On May 13, demonstrating San Francisco students are rebuffed with fire hoses at city hall as they protest a House Un-American Activities Committee hearing.
- On November 1, Congress passes a general aid-to-education bill, the first in the twentieth century.
- On November 12, the U.S. Justice Department warns Louisiana governor Jimmie Davis against blocking desegregation of public schools.
- On November 13, a special session of the Louisiana legislature approves steps to avoid school desegregation in New Orleans.
- On December 4, African American New Orleans minister Floyd Foreman continues to escort his five-year-old daughter to an integrated neighborhood school despite abuse from onlookers.
- Classrooms and qualified teachers are in shortage throughout...
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