chapter  3
36 Pages

SOWING THE SEEDS, 1965–1980

The 1960s and early 1970s in the United States were rocked by a confluence of social, political, ethical, and economic upheavals. The civil rights movement; the women’s movement; political assassinations of President John F.Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy; and the Vietnam War and the draft, to name but a few powerful events, radically realigned the social and cultural matrix in the United States. In turn, these forces had an enormous impact on education. Marches, sitins, and other protests disrupted campuses and brought demands for relevancy in education that reoriented pedagogical practices in many places, shifting the focus more squarely on to the students.1 Mary Rose O’Reilley poignantly captured some of the demands brought on especially by the draft when she recalled: “if a student failed, he could become vulnerable to the draft. I wonder if grading has ever been such a life-or-death issue” (143). Student-centered education was not new, of course. The progressive movement in education earlier in the 20th century had promoted a student-centered approach to teaching.2 What was new was the heightened pressure to provide more education, especially postsecondary education, to an ever greater number of students.