World War II permanently changed the state of global politics, establishing the United States as a major superpower. In particular, the creation of the atomic bomb at the end of the war ushered in a new era of nuclear tension and a Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union, in which each side was pushed to marshal resources – foreign and domestic, cultural and political, at all levels – in support of its cause. The purpose of this research is to provide an analysis of the impact of the Cold War on American public primary and secondary schools, particularly focusing on changes in curriculum as a result of pressures from the Soviet Union and the influence of the federal government. In order to respond to the Soviet threat and maintain the U.S.’s status, public schools utilized their influence by instilling “American” values and conditioning children to be future contributors to society by focusing more heavily on mathematics, science, physical education, and foreign languages. By exploring primary and secondary sources, I analyze the changes in public school functions within the context of the onset of the Cold War (1947-1968). Utilizing these sources, which include federal acts, Massachusetts Board of Education reports, funding directives, and curricula, this research aims to show what specific changes were enacted by schools in order to mold pupils into ideal members of society during the Cold War. This research will contribute to existing literature on education in late twentieth-century America, which has shaped the needs and goals of education in the new millennium. My findings emphasize the deep and lasting impact that a war of such magnitude has had on society. In addition, it shows how American public schools responded to the Cold War in order to help current and future educators fully understand and utilize their influence in divisive times.
Andrew Holman (Thesis Advisor)
Copyright and Permissions
Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.
Pineo, Amanda. (2018). Cold War in the Classroom: Effects of the Onset of the Cold War on Public Education. In BSU Honors Program Theses and Projects. Item 273. Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/honors_proj/273
Copyright © 2018 Amanda Pineo