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The New MathA Political History$
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Christopher J. Phillips

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226184968

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226185019.001.0001

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The Subject and the State

The Subject and the State

The Origins of the New Math

(p.22) Chapter Two The Subject and the State
The New Math

Christopher J. Phillips

University of Chicago Press

This chapter analyzes the bureaucratic and financial origins of mid-century federal support for education reform in general and the National Science Foundation’s curriculum projects in particular. Drawing from debates in Congress and among educational reformers, the origins of the new math were primarily located in the push to fight the “Cold War of the classrooms.” Long before Sputnik’s launch in 1957, critics had called for an overhaul of the American education system, and the Soviet satellite provided an opportunity ripe for exploitation. The use of classrooms as a site of Cold War politics was neither inevitable nor self-evident. Politicians, educators, and scientists had to work to make the case that the nation’s “scientific manpower” crisis was ultimately rooted in problems of intellectual discipline.

Keywords:   education reform, National Science Foundation, Congress, Sputnik, Cold War, intellectual discipline, schools, scientific manpower

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