Discuss with respect to modern education, the view that the 1960s represented profound cultural change.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like so much in the 1960s, assessing the decade's impact on education is a challenging element.  I don't think that one can go far without talking about how the elements of dreams and transformations helped to underscore our modern conception of education.  The field of education is one where there is more idealism and more worship of what can be and what might be than many other fields.  Education is rooted in the transformative vision that was such an embedded part of the 1960s.  In nearly all aspects of life in the decade, there was a concerted effort the envision what can be out of what is.  Political expressions like Kennedy and Civil Rights and Womens' movements, social expressions like the Hippies, musical expressions like The Beatles are all examples of this.  This same element of transformation is evident in education, a field in which teachers and administrators seek to see what should be as opposed to what is.  In this, there is a great deal hope and underscoring the power of dreaming, which is a part of the modern education field.

At the same time, I think that it makes sense to examine the end of the decade and the growing pessimism and Conservativism that began to take a hold in that time period.  The rising cost of Vietnam, the lack of faith in political institutions of the time, and the basic element of pessimism all helped to feed a belief that government needed to be curtailed and that it "was the problem."  This is seen in modern education, also.  The rise in school voucher movements, charter schools, and a call to reform the federal educational system arises as a response to the dreams that drive education.  The need to engage in high stakes, standardized test reform is also a part of this, reflective of a pessimism and doubt in teacher ability and the collective strength of teacher unions.  I think that being able to invoke the dreams of the 1960s and the pessimism that ended the decade can both have simultaneous applicability to modern education.