Download Scientists in the Classroom: The Cold War Reconstruction of by J. Rudolph PDF

By J. Rudolph

In the course of the Fifties, best American scientists launched into an unheard of venture to remake highschool technology schooling. Dissatisfaction with the 'soft' college curriculum of the time encouraged via the pro schooling institution, and situation over the starting to be technological sophistication of the Soviet Union, led govt officers to motivate a handful of elite learn scientists, clean from their global conflict II successes, to revitalize the international locations' technology curricula. In Scientists within the school room , John L. Rudolph argues that the chilly warfare surroundings, lengthy missed within the historical past of schooling literature, is important to realizing either the explanations for the general public reputation of medical authority within the box of schooling and the character of the curriculum fabrics that have been ultimately produced. Drawing on a wealth of formerly untapped assets from govt and college data, Rudolph specializes in the nationwide technology Foundation-supported curriculum initiatives initiated in 1956. What the historic list unearths, in keeping with Rudolph, is that those fabrics have been designed not only to enhance American technological know-how schooling, yet to develop the pro curiosity of the yankee medical neighborhood within the postwar interval in addition.

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28 The goal of the scientific community was obvious, if not easily accomplished: to maximize funding, while minimizing federal control of their work. Managing the public perception of science increasingly became an important part of their efforts to secure public acceptance of the scientific worldview, which would bring with it, they believed, these favorable conditions for scientific research. Unfortunately social trends seemed to be working against them. Resistance to the scientific attitude, which scientists saw as a fundamental irrationalism, seemed all too prevalent among members of the general public and appeared to be on the rise.

The resulting textbooks, critics charged, were encyclopedic and lacked coherence; they provided teachers with too much material to cover realistically and few options for extracting a unified core of disciplinary content. Prewar textbooks of this sort required only minor modifications to meet the life-adjustment standards that were then coming into vogue. The life-adjustment curriculum, with its heavy emphasis on social efficiency, also possessed elements of the child-centered approach drawn from the earlier writings of John Dewey on the importance of student interest in learning.

67 Within American colleges and universities, the encroachment of the social sciences, which, as its proponents argued, provided a more fruitful approach to understanding and managing the human condition, met resistance in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Robert Hutchins, the president of the University of Chicago, harshly criticized what he called the “cult of science,” with its “blind and unthinking empiricism,” its valuefree orientation and cultural relativism. 69 As already noted, the expansion of social-science techniques, indeed, accelerated with the onset of World War II.

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