The Heritage of the Cold War in Contemporary Curricula and Educational Reforms

  • Tomislav Topolovčan Department of Education Faculty of Teacher Education University of Zagreb Savska cesta 77, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia tomislav.topolovcan@ufzg.hr
  • Snježana Dubovicki Lifelong Learning Department Faculty of Education University of J. J. Strossmayer Cara Hadrijana 10, 31000 Osijek, Croatia sdubovicki@foozos.hr
Keywords: cold war, educational reform, humanistic-oriented curriculum, OECD, PISA

Abstract

Using a theoretical-critical and historical approach, this paper analyses the implications of the Cold War in national curricula and educational reforms of the second half of the 20th century with emphasis on the 21st century. The context of the time after the Second World War and the beginning of the Cold War is shown, as well as the social and political changes that are significant for education and were prompted by the wars. The emergence of the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (whose focus is not educational but economic) and the role of behavioural psychology were also analysed, which explained their significance in later educational reforms. The role of the Cold War in reducing socio-humanistic teaching contents and the implementation of natural sciences and mathematics has also been explained. The synthesis of the analysed aspects suggests that the Cold War military and technological race resulted in the implementation of the STEM area, thus the measurability of learning outcomes, which influenced the psychologisation, standardisation, economisation, and globalisation of education. Most of the current (un)successful national educational and curricular reforms were initiated in that direction without respect for the social, cultural, and historical features of individual countries. These changes have left a mark in pedagogy, in which the humanistic approach appears to counteract other approaches. Some educational systems demonstrate a shift from such trends, from the technical-scientific curriculum towards the didactic tradition of Bildung and the philosophy of education. The reasons can be found in the above-average results on international standardised evaluations of those countries that have national curricula, in contrast to what is recommended by the globalisation and standardisation of education as some of the elements of the Cold War heritage.

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Author Biographies

Tomislav Topolovčan, Department of Education Faculty of Teacher Education University of Zagreb Savska cesta 77, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia tomislav.topolovcan@ufzg.hr

Department of Education

Faculty of Teacher Education

University of Zagreb

Savska cesta 77, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia

tomislav.topolovcan@ufzg.hr

Snježana Dubovicki, Lifelong Learning Department Faculty of Education University of J. J. Strossmayer Cara Hadrijana 10, 31000 Osijek, Croatia sdubovicki@foozos.hr

Lifelong Learning Department

Faculty of Education

University of J. J. Strossmayer

Cara Hadrijana 10, 31000 Osijek, Croatia

sdubovicki@foozos.hr

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Published
2019-06-20