Post-Sputnik Education

Archive Report

Stock-Taking after 25 Years

Alarm Once Again Over Inadequacies

The Soviet Union's launching of Sputnik 25 years ago, on Oct. 4, 1957, sent the American education establishment into a tailspin. At least since the early 1940s the trend in education had been toward the social development of children rather than an emphasis on hard academic subject matter. At the same time, however, there had been a growing concern about whether math and science education was adequate and whether enough students were prepared and interested in seeking careers that would help advance American technology.

Russia's dramatic exploit in space1 highlighted the costs of neglecting rigorous academic training, particularly in math and science, and galvanized this nation to action. President Eisenhower stressed the importance of education to national security, ...

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