chapter  8
32 Pages

Physics for Boys

An effort to replace departing female faculty with men continued throughout the decade of the 1930s. For example, in 1934, A. W. Miller, a New York school superintendent, wrote to Craig at Teachers College, Columbia, asking for male candidates to replace a departing female teacher. The teacher, Rose Wyler, had accepted a position on the faculty of Platts-

1937-1938

1947-1948

Table 8.3 Percentage of Male anel Female Teachers in Public High Schools, 1919-1940

1919-20 1929-30 1939-40

In addition to producing a new emphasis on textbooks in classroom instruction, the reorganization in science education contributed to the cultural construction of physics as a school subject with a strongly positive subjective warrant for boys. In a sharp break with the older nature-study tradition, science educators after the war applauded the efforts of local school districts to align science instruction with the specific interests and activities of boys. Nationally, reformers in science education sought to revise the curriculum to place a greater emphasis on the kinds of activities that had long formed a traditional part of contemporary boy culture, such as the building of toy cars and ships, or the electrical wiring of model buildingsJ4

The war also reinforcecl preexisting notions that schooling should provide a functional benefit to society by helping students adjust to their presumed future vocations. Historians have given the term lile adjllstmelll educatiofl to a movement that originatecl after the presentation in 1945 of a study titled "Vocational Education in the Years Ahead." The report had been commissioned a year earlier by the United States OtJice or Education. The study's authors argued that the nation's high school students were

Although the geneler stereotyping in the curriculum might be presumed to have encouraged more boys to enroll in high school physics courses during the decaeles after the Secemd World War, this did not happen. Insteael, enrollments in physics anel chemistry continueel to decline from 1930 tu 19')5. From 1922 to 1955, physics enrollments fell among both sexes, whereas the percentage of boys anel girls in biology courses increaseel slightly (see Table 1).5).