Education and the Cold War: The Battle for the American School

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ISBN-13: 978-0230600102
ISBN-10: 0230600107
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Editorial Reviews


“Hartman depicts Cold War educational debates both as inheritors of longer precedents and as politically distinct to the era. He convincingly depicts this story as a political struggle for control of American schools, a conflict that he says radical and working-class constituents lost. At the same time, because this book is primarily an intellectual history, Hartman justifiably eschews tempting claims about what American schools, still largely decentralized, were actually doing. His stimulating exploration of the political and intellectual debates about American education thus invites new social histories that examine how teachers, students, and parents experienced and negotiated national Cold War imperatives in local schools. Hartman's book cautions us not to underestimate its power and permanence in American education.”-- Sevan G. Terzian, American Historical Review
“A particular strength of this book is Hartman’s examination of progressive education and the intellectual abuse by conservatives. For readers wishing to examine the crisis in education as America moved into the Cold War, this well-organized synthesis provides an excellent point of departure.”--Ronald Lora, University of Toledo, OH

“The work offers a rich blend of documentary evidence and philosophical reflection.”--Samuel Day Fassbinder

“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. The ‘conservative 1950s’ might still be with us, in more ways than we are willing to admit.”--Jonathan Zimmerman, Professor of Education and History, New York University

“Anyone who wants to fully understand the failure of American schools to prepare free citizens capable of vigorous participation in a democratic society will find here a complex but accessible map.  Andrew 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

"Hartman's study makes a significant contribution to the political, intellectual, and educational developments associated with the rise and fall of progressive education. It will appeal to a wide variety  of readers, including upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, and scholars of education."--Scott Henderson, History of Education Quarterly

"He does well to remind educators of the baleful consequences of failing to explore the deeper metaphysical grounds and broader political implications of their pedagogy." --Francis G. Couvares, Modern Intellectual History

About the Author

Andrew Hartman is Assistant Professor of History at Illinois State University and the author of numerous published articles in journals such as Race and Class, Third World Quarterly, Poverty and Race, Socialism and Democracy, Teachers College Record, and Zmagazine. He is a former public school teacher.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (February 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230600107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230600102
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,453,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Textcontext on July 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Many people will not appreciate this book. Any candid review should help such readers save their precious money and more scarce reading time. It is on this initial caveat that I condition my strong recommendation in favor of this scholarly analysis of a timely and politically charged topic. But if you believe the expenditure of public funds in support of free and secular education to be an inappropriate role for a government; if you think the only proper places to learn to read, calculate, and write are in the church basement or at your own breakfast table, then you should avoid this book. With all due respect, it does not weigh in to your squabble, but presumes public education to be both beneficial and appropriate.

Andrew Hartman, these days Assistant Professor of History at Illinois State University and formerly a public school teacher, interweaves and sustains several complex arguments, the most central of which emerges from a causal analysis of the theoretical developments in the public school curriculum. As one might expect, this analysis includes a detailed description of the socio-political context for successive curricular policies. But it also paints a convincing, if more subtle, portrait of the opposite, the impact of the curriculum on the national political paradigm of the Cold War era. Surprisingly, the resulting conclusions are not so stark as to place either educational curriculum or political concerns into dependable correspondences. Parallel to this historical analysis runs another more philosophical argument about the relative or absolute nature of truth, or at least the way various participants in this venerable debate have been invoked to excuse periodic interventions conducted in both the name of "the child" and for the good of "the nation.
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