Presents a timeline of major worldwide events throughout the 20th century and their impacts on education.
Timeline: The Impact of Social Change on 20th Century Education
Beyond the shifts from an agricultural to an industrial to a knowledge economy, fast-paced economic and educational change throughout the 20th century was fuelled still further by major periods of social change and upheaval.
The timeline below briefly chronicles a selection of major worldwide events throughout the 20th century, their impacts on education, as well as a number of Ontario-specific educational events (three of which will be touched on in Weeks 8, 9, and 10).
Navigate to the embedded web links to learn more about the educational implications of specific events.
World War I (1914 - 1918): Learn more about the impact on education in Canada.
January 1, 1914
Spanish Flu Pandemic (1918 - 1920): Learn more about the impact on education in Ontario.
January 1, 1918
Ontario adds a fifth year to secondary school (i.e., Grades 9 to 13).
The compulsory age to which Ontario students must attend school is raised from 14 to 16 in urban areas.
January 1, 1921
The Great Depression (1929 - 1939): Collapse of the world's economy throwing millions of people out of work. Learn more about the impact on universities in Canada.
January 1, 1929
World War II (1939 - 1945): Learn more about the impact on education in Canada.
January 1, 1939
Founding of The United Nations: Browse the website of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which focuses in part on global education initiatives.
January 1, 1945
Baby Boom Generation (circa 1946 - 1964): A dramatic rise in the number of births post-World War II leads to an exploding school age population in the years that follow. Learn more about the impact of changing demographics on education in Ontario.
January 1, 1946
The Cold War (circa 1947 - 1991): A sustained period of geopolitical tension between Western Bloc countries (led by the United States) and Eastern Bloc countries (led by the Soviet Union). Learn more about the "duck and cover" exercise school children were trained to perform should the Soviet Union have launched a nuclear attack on Canada.
January 1, 1947
The compulsory age to which Ontario students must attend school is set at 16 for all students (with work exemptions for some students).
January 1, 1954
Sputnik Soviet Satellite Launch: The Soviet Union launches the Sputnik satellite, beating the United States into space. The event causes a major reckoning in the U.S. (and wider Western world) leading to increased prioritization of the maths and sciences in schools in order to compete with the Soviet Union. (This topic will be discussed in greater detail in Week 8.)
January 1, 1957
1960s Counterculture Movement (circa 1960 - 1975): An extended period of social upheaval characterized by a largely youth-led anti-establishment sentiment that found its manifestation in new lifestyles and subcultures, as well as widespread protest movements (particularly against the Vietnam War) and the rise of the civil rights movement in the United States. (This topic will be discussed in greater detail in Week 22.)
January 1, 1960
The influential Hall-Dennis Report (officially titled Living and Learning) is published. The report calls for a more progressive approach to education in Ontario, leading to child-centred reforms throughout the next decade. (This topic will be discussed in greater detail in Week 10.)
January 1, 1968
Moon Landing: Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the moon. The event - watched on TV by more than 600 million people worldwide - ushers in a renewed interest in 'space exploration' as a curriculum focus in schools. Learn more about how the moon landing inspired a generation of children.
January 1, 1969
The compulsory age to which Ontario students must attend school is set at 16 for all students with no work exemptions.
January 1, 1970
Bill 82 mandates that school boards serve all Ontario children with special needs through special education programs. (This topic will be discussed in greater detail in Week 9.)
January 1, 1980
The influential Nation at Risk report is published in the United States. The report warns of a crisis in U.S. education. The report's influence reaches well beyond the U.S. to other jurisdictions, including Ontario. (This topic will be discussed in greater detail in Week 8.)
January 1, 1984
Grade 13 is replaced by the OAC (Ontario Academic Credits) year as the final year of secondary school.
January 1, 1984
Challenger Explosion: Seven NASA space shuttle crew members, including Christa McAuliffe, who would have been the first teacher in space, are killed when the space shuttle Challenger explodes on launch. Approximately 20% of the U.S. population and countless more worldwide (including many K-12 students) watch the disaster unfold live.
January 1, 1986
The funding of Ontario's public education system becomes more centralized with the provincial government assuming greater control.
January 1, 1997
The September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, the single deadliest terrorist attack in history, kill almost 3000 people. Learn more about how students who were born after 2001 are being taught about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
January 1, 2001
The final year of secondary school (OAC) is dropped. High school moves from five years to four years of study (i.e., Grades 9 to 12).