Education during wartime

By Kathleen Maclay
Public Affairs

05 December 2001 | Students at Berkeley High during World War II busied themselves setting up Morse code clubs and selling enough war bonds to purchase two P-39 fighter planes.

During today's war on terrorism, students in K-12 class are displaying some of the same patriotic fervor, as they collect donations for Afghan children or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But a researcher with the Graduate School of Education predicts that, just as in World War II, the core curriculums in schools will see little fundamental change.
"Schools are looking more to the long term," said Charles Dorn, 34, a fellow in the Graduate School of Education's Center for the Integrated Study of Teaching and Learning. He is examining how teachers and students fared during World War II in the public secondary schools of Berkeley, Oakland, Palo Alto and Richmond.

"There are all sorts of changes to the peripheral programs, but in English class they're still reading 'Romeo and Juliet...,'" Dorn said. "The schools themselves do not really alter their core programs in response to the war."

Dorn believes that examining the influence of wartime events on public education during World War II "helps illuminate what's occurring right now."

Educators in wartime, he said, seem to cling to the concept of school as a foundation for consistency, stability and democratic traditions.

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