17 SES 02, Progressive Education
The aim of in this paper is to research the scientific reasoning for doing education of the mind in order to make people good democratic citizens that would be part of a new world order based on peace. The social sciences were important tools when building the new post-war society.
In the history writing on the rebuilding of Europe the focus has mainly been on economic and to a certain degree social processes. After the Second World War the belief that science could provide the answer to almost everything was strong. The social sciences became a leading academic discipline, and sociologists and social economists became entrepreneurs of economic planning and welfare systems development. However, one area, which is rarely mentioned in literature on the rebuilding of Europe, is education. Did the promotion of the social scientist as an entrepreneur have any impact on the field of education?
Education was regarded as important in the plans for the rebuilding of Europe, and in the shaping of a new world order based on peace (Winter 2008, CAME 1945). After Hitler seized power in 1933 German governmental bodies, the schools and other parts of the society were permeated with Nazi ideology. After the end of the war it was seen as important to give children and young people who had experienced the war, a bulwark against totalitarian ideas in order to prevent such ideas from gaining ground in the future. Children are easier to influence than adults, and their minds had been subjected to unthinkable impressions during the war. Education and the schools system provided a way to reach the children and young people.
In his doctoral thesis Wooldrige (1994) found that after the Second World War there was put much weight on guiding children and adolescents to what was right. The many activities within testing and measuring of the mind had important implications for the thinking on educating the human mind for peace. In this paper I will show that in this context measuring and testing changes of attitudes was based on the idea that attitudes could be created and changed, and that it was possible to learn children and young people to be good, participating citizens within a world society.
In my paper I will discuss two important contributions to this kind of scientific work: Theodore Adorno and others’ work on the authoritarian personality and the work done within the scope of the UNESCO program on education for international understanding. The project on authoritarian personality was part of a larger research trend, where scientists wanted to find the origin of the totalitarian way of thinking, as well as the reasons for the Second World War, and through this to know how to prevent this from happening again. During and after the Second World War there were published several reports, articles and books which in one way or another dealt with the topic of how to prevent totalitarian ideas to take hold of the minds of young people. The work within the UNESCO had its roots in discussions on the rebuilding of the educational systems of Europe after the war. My main focus is on their initiatives on education for international understanding. Within this work UNESCO drew upon the competence of teachers, politicians and scientists when launching a large for researching whether it was possible to teach international understanding, and how it was done.
References: Adorno, T. et.al. (1950) The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper & Bros. CAME (1945) Allied Plan for Education. The Story of the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education. Published for the United Nations Information Organisation by His Majesty’s Stationary Office, London. Duedahl, P. (2007) Fra overmenneske til UNESCO-menneske. En begrebshistorisk analyse af overgangen fra et biologisk til et kulturelt forankret menneskesyn i det 20. Århundrede. PhD-avhandling, Århus universitet. Gardner, M. (1945) Human nature and enduring peace. Third yearbook of the society for the psychological study of social issues. Houghton Mifflin Company. Thue, F. (1997) Empirisme og demokrati. Norsk samfunnsforskning som etterkrigsprosjekt. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Thue, F. (2006) In quest for a social democratic order: The Americanization of Norwegian social scholarship 1918-1970. PhD-dissertation, University of Oslo.. Woolridge, A (1994) Measuring the mind. Education and psychology in England, c. 1860-c.1990. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Winter, J (2008) Dreams of Peace and Freedom. Utopian Moments in the Twentieth Century. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Source material: UNESCO Archive, Paris: The archives from the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education (1942-1945) From this archive I have used mostly semi-official papers such as reports and minutes. UNESCO Archive, Paris: Sem.Rep. 1-9 1947, Working papers of the Seminar on Education for International Understanding.
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