Updated:Aug 13, 2019Original:Aug 13, 2019How the Cold War Space Race Led to UNITED STATE Students Doing Tons of Homework
After a period of shunning homework at the revolve of the 20th century, the Soviet Union"s launch of Sputnik 1 spurred an immediate UNITED STATE emphasis on schoolchildren"s worklots.

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After a duration of shunning homejob-related at the turn of the 20th century, the Soviet Union"s launch of Sputnik 1 spurred an urgent UNITED STATE focus on schoolchildren"s workloads.

Middle-schoolers that trudge house each day via a 50-pound backload and also hours of homejob-related would have actually had an less complicated time in 1901. That’s once the anti-homework-related movement was at its peak and also the state of The golden state actually banned all homework-related for qualities listed below high school.

From the late 19th century through the Great Depression, homejob-related was a well-known punching bag of the gradual education and learning motion, a “child-centered” strategy championed by psychologist and also reprevious John Dewey. Not just was homework a waste of time, progressive educators thought, yet it was detrimental to children’s health. 

By 1948, only 8 percent of Amerideserve to high college students reported examining for 2 or more hrs each night. Homeoccupational could have remained in the educational doghome if not for the arrival of the Cold War, and particularly, the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik in 1957.


Soviet technician working on Sputnik 1, circa 1957. 

Sovfoto/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

To the horror of many Americans, the Space Race was being won by communist researchers from the Soviet Union.

“This elicited widespcheck out fear that we were being undone by our schools,” claims Steven Schlossguy, a historian at Carnegie Mellon College. “How could it be that the Soviets had actually gotten tbelow faster? They must have much better colleges that are training their children to come to be scientists on a greater level. America currently had to integrate colleges into our reasoning about nationwide defense policy.”

As much as education and learning was concerned, tbelow was plenty of rereasoning to execute. Around the late 1ninth century, through the arrival of waves of immigrants, officials had actually begun shifting public education policies to ideal serve the promptly transforming confront of America.

Until then, Schlossguy claims the majority of schooloccupational revolved approximately drill, memorization and recitation. Kids were expected to “say their lessons,” which expected memorizing lengthy passeras of background messages and poeattempt, drilling math problems, and reciting it all out loud in class. All of that memorization and also recitation intended hours of practice at home eextremely night. But as America and its students became even more diverse, the rigidity of rote memorization seemed inenough.

If colleges were going to offer equal education and learning methods for all students, they necessary to execute it scientifically, and the leading educational minds of the day were fascinated through the emerging areas of psychology and also son advance.


Board members for the National Congress of Mothers, an organization dedicated to the education and learning and also welfare of youngsters formed at the finish of the 1ninth century.

Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

Progressive's Push Against Homework

Popular turn-of-the-century women’s magazines prefer The Ladies Home Journal publiburned studies mirroring that drilling of spelling words didn’t boost children’s overall spelling ability, and its editors promoted even more “natural” fads of son learning and growth. These brand-new principles about what’s ideal for kids’ education and learning were picked up by establishments like the National Congress of Mothers, a team developed in 1897 that would end up being the National Parent Teachers Association (PTA).

It didn’t take lengthy for this progressively vocal motion of boy psychologists and also came to moms to determine public adversary number one.

“The first point that had to be readjusted in schooling was this old-fashioned way of doing homejob-related, which was antithetical to children’s natural growth qualities,” states Schlossguy. “Homework took on a broader symbolic definition for ‘out via the old and also in via the brand-new.’”

That’s why the The golden state legislature voted in 1901 to abolish all homework for students 14 and also younger, a relocate followed by dozens of huge cities and also school districts across the country.

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The anti-homework discussion of the gradual education and learning movement further completed that hours of homework robbed kids of outdoor play, taken into consideration crucial to healthy physical and also emotional advancement.

“For the elementary school son and also the junior high institution child,” concluded a 1930s examine, homejob-related was nopoint less than “legalized criminality.” The Amerideserve to Child Health Association corresponded homework through kid labor in 1930, claiming that both practices were “chief reasons of the high fatality and morbidity rates from tuberculosis and also heart condition among teens.”