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revolution in the study of the mind that has occurred in recent decades has important implications for education.36 A new theory of learning now coming into focus will lead to very different approaches to the design of curriculum, teaching, and assessment from those generally found in schools today.

Research in the social sciences has increased understanding of the nature of competent performance and the principles of knowledge organization that underlie people’s abilities to solve problems in a wide variety of fields, including mathematics, science, literature, social studies, and history. It has also uncovered important principles for structuring learning experiences that enable people to use what they have learned in new settings. Collaborative studies of the design and evaluation of learning environments being conducted by cognitive and developmental psychologists and educators are yielding new knowledge about the nature of learning and teaching in a variety of settings.


Scientific and engineering research demonstrated its essential role in the nation’s defense during World War II. Research led to the rapid development and deployment of the atomic bomb, radar and sonar detectors, nylon that revolutionized parachute use, and penicillin that saved battlefield lives. Throughout the Cold War the United States relied on a technological edge to offset the larger forces of its adversaries and thus generously supported basic research. The US military continues to depend on new and emerging technologies to respond to the diffuse and uncertain threats that characterize the 21st century and to provide the men and women in uniform with the best possible equipment and support.37

Just as Vannevar Bush described a tight linkage between research and security,38 the Hart–Rudman Commission a half-century later argued that security can be achieved only by funding more basic research in a variety of fields.39 In the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax mailings, it is clear that innovation capacity and homeland security are also tightly coupled.


National Research Council. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2000.


Joint Chiefs of Staff. Joint Vision 2020. Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 2000; Department of Defense. Quadrennial Defense Review Report. Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 2001.


V. Bush. Science: The Endless Frontier. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1945.


US Commission on National Security. Road Map for National Security: Imperative for Change. Washington, DC: US Commission on National Security, 2001.

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