New Sputniks Meet the Humanities & Social Activism | Sanje Ratnavale | 4 Min Read

September 12, 2023

The Progressive Education movement started in the 1920s and went into a roar during the Depression led by advocates like John Dewey. It soon joined forces in the 1930s with George Counts’ Social Reconstruction movement. But the momentum was not to last and the association between the two movements collapsed by the 1950s.  After the collapse, both curriculum ideologies became less important drivers of education reform for two reasons: first, the learner-centered ideology of progressives like Dewey had struggled to find common ground with the social reconstructionists who saw schools as an opportunity to change society through the education of the individual; and second, the United States had been driven into a Cold War panic when Russia launched Sputnik into space.  This panic meant that the next decades were led by an emphasis on the STEM fields.

It looks like we are very much at the same moment again. So what are the new Sputniks that might challenge the humanities and movements like social justice, and lead to a renewed doubling down on the STEM fields? The first is what the Financial Times called “the American chip moonshot,” which is the $40 billion being invested…

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Sanje Ratnavale

Sanje founded OESIS in 2012 and serves as the President of what has grown to become the leading network for innovation at independent schools: the acronym OESIS grew from the initial focus on Online Education Strategies for Independent Schools. He has held senior administrative positions at independent schools including Associate Head of School at a K-12 school for seven years, High School Principal for three years, and CFO for seven years. Prior to making a switch to education, Sanje spent 15 years in venture capital, investment banking, and senior C-level (CEO, COO, CFO) management. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford University (B.A. and M.A. in Law/Jurisprudence). Sanje is based out of Santa Monica.