Prepared to Do Something About It

The seed of social reconstructionism in education that Counts had planted in the mid- and late 1920s flowered. By the early 1930s, his sentiments were being echoed by educational leaders throughout the country. Even some of those who had championed the child-centered movement, like Kilpatrick, were drawn wholeheartedly into the new orbit. Somehow the long unemployment lines and the soup kitchens dampened the spirit of optimism that had earlier prevailed, not only about the future of capitalism, but with respect to romantic ideas about the natural development of the child in the school setting. Both social efficiency–fitting the individual into the right niche in the existing social order–and developmentalism, with its emphasis on freedom and individuality for children and adolescents, gave ground to the feeling that the schools had to address ongoing social and economic problems by raising up a new generation critically attuned to the defects of the social system and prepared to do something about it.

Kliebard, The Struggle for the American Curriculum p. 157

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