IT was the year that Marlon Brando became the Godfather, rap star Eminem was born and the country sang along to Alice Cooper's hit School's Out.
In 1972 Donny Osmond was melting girls' hearts with Puppy Love, while boys played with the latest craze - a beanbag football called the Hacky Sac.
And it was also the year when a snapshot was being taken of what primary teachers thought their schools should be doing.
Researchers at the University of the West of England are hoping to repeat the exercise this autumn to discover how teachers' attitudes have changed since the introduction of the national curriculum and league tables.
They have just completed a preliminary, small-scale study of 52 teachers which yielded at least one startling result - nothing much has changed.
Dr Penelope Harnett, who is carrying out the research with Elizabeth Newman, said: "What has surprised us is the consistency of primary teachers' beliefs over a long period of time and the broad conception which they hold of their roles."
The survey asked teachers what their key aims were, whether they were able to achieve them and what constraints they faced. The highest percentage of responses (37 per cent) was that teachers wanted to help children realise their potential, whether that was academic, artistic or social. Promoting high self-esteem was also highly valued.
The findings echo those from the early 1970s, when Ashton published The aims of primary education: a study of teachers' opinions. That study found that teachers' top priority was children's happiness; other key priorities were their personal, social and moral development and basic skills.
However, John Wilks, head of West St Leonards primary, in East Sussex, says pursuing these aims is more difficult now than it was 30 years ago.
"You can say that your priority is to keep children happy, but children nowadays are subjected to booster classes. We're allowing them more time to do what they don't do well, and none of us is happy doing that," he said.
A number of differences did emerge. In a report on the 2002 study, the authors said today's teachers were more articulate in discussing how children learn and the teaching strategies they use.
The 2002 survey also looked at what constraints teachers faced. Only six felt they were able to fulfil their aims fully within school. The main problem was the lack of time, followed by too great an emphasis on the national literacy and numeracy strategies and a lack of adult support and money.
"There's far too much expectation about scoring and national tests now than there is about real development of kids. The fun has gone out of it," said Anne Copley, head of Oakgrove primary, in Stockport.
"Back then there was not enough structure or emphasis on achievement, but now we seem to have lost the balance between the two."
'Developing children's potential. Primary school teachers' views on their professional roles in the 21st century', Dr Penelope Harnett and Elizabeth Newman
LANDMARKS IN THE HISTORY OF EDUCATION
1972: School-leaving age raised to 16
1976: Jim Callaghan initiated the "great debate" on standards in public education with a speech at Ruskin College
1977: HMI report on Curriculum 11-16
1981: Special Educational Needs Act, triggering the statementing process
1981: Baker days
1988 : Landmark Education Reform Act, introducing national curriculum and grant-maintained schools
1988: GCSE exams introduced
1991: National curriculum implemented
1991: School Teachers' Review Body set up
1991: Publication of parent's charter
1991-5: National tests phased in
1992: General national vocational qualifications and old AS-levels introduced
1993: Office for Standards in Education established
1994: Teacher Training Agency set up
1996: First national publication of performance tables
1998: Dearing review of national curriculum
1998: Literacy and numeracy hours introduced
2000: Launch of Curriculum 2000
2001: First new AS-level exams
WHAT A DIFFERENCE 20 YEARS MAKES
Chart-toppers include: "Amazing Grace" by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Band
Top-grossing film: The Godfather
Most popular TV programme: Eurovision Song Contest
Popular books: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort, Love Story by Erich Segal
Popular toys: roller-skates, Hacky Sacs, Space hoppers
Fashion trends: loon pants, crushed velvet, knee-high boots, tinted contact lenses
Price of loaf of bread: 2.5p
Average price of house: pound;7,374
Price of pint of beer: 16p
Average teachers' salary: pound;2,170 (1974)
UK population: 55.928m (1971)
Chart toppers include: "Anything is PossibleEvergreen" by Will Young Top-grossing film: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Most popular TV programme: EastEnders
Popular books: Atonement by Ian McEwan, How To Be Good by Nick Hornby, Billy by Pamela Stephenson
Popular toys: Bob the Builder dolls, mobile phones, computer games
Fashion trends: cowboy tassles, hippy prints, gypsy look
Price of loaf of bread: 58p
Average price of house: pound;111,968
Price of pint of beer: pound;1.81
Average teachers' salary: pound;23,170
UK population: 59.756m (2000)