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The Open MindCold War Politics and the Sciences of Human Nature$
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Jamie Cohen-Cole

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226092164

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226092331.001.0001

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Cognitive Theory and the Making of Liberal Americans

Cognitive Theory and the Making of Liberal Americans

(p.190) Chapter Seven Cognitive Theory and the Making of Liberal Americans
The Open Mind

Jamie Cohen-Cole

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the transmission of cognitive psychology outside the halls of the academy to the wider public through National Science Foundation sponsored science high school curricula. Curriculum designers believed that treating learning as discovery oriented process rather a matter of memorization would inoculate Americans against the wrong-headed, reactionary politics, and dishonesty of McCarthyism. The chapter focuses on the design of a social science course, “Man: A Course of Study” (MACOS), led by cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner. Along with the other science curriculum projects, MACOS sought to transform minds of its students and therefore the nation. Social and natural science when taught in the proper way would enable pupils to become responsible citizens. MACOS treated the classroom as a place to do social science and elementary school children as though they were little scientists. Instead of emphasizing on memorization of facts and truths derived from authority, MACOS taught its students mental self-reliance. In so doing MACOS aimed to foster the liberal traits of tolerance, encourage reason, and promote an attitude of self-confidence and the questioning of received authority. It was these open-minded attributes and not the ability to memorize that cognitive science had marked as distinctively human.

Keywords:   Man: A Course of Study, MACOS, Citizen, Discovery, Learning, Curriculum, Cognitive science

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