THE DISCIPLINES ENTER
THE INFORMATION AGE
The years following World War II were crucial for writing instruction, not so much because American secondary and higher education took a new direction but because the pace of change accelerated so dramatically. The growth of higher education in the postwar era, not only in the size and number of institutions but in the variety of programs they offered, increased differentiation exponentially. Moreover, the explosion in knowledge during and after the war—aided for the first time by massive federal and corporate research funding—only multiplied and reinforced disciplinary boundaries and thus the distance between faculty and student, university and secondary school. Higher education fully became, in Burton Clark's phrase, a vast aggregate of "small worlds, different worlds." 1
Academia reflected the increasing differentiation and rationalization of the whole society as America entered the information age. In 1956, the year William H. Whyte published The Organization Man, white-collar workers outnumbered blue-collar workers for the first time in American history. For the first time in any nation, secondary education was expected of all, and the word dropout carried a social stigma. For greater numbers of Americans, a college education came to be thought of as a necessity, perhaps a right. And even graduate education became common, to the amazement of Europeans. The claims of equity and inclusion had clearly won a decisive victory, but the claims of excellence and exclusion were also heard.