May 24, 2008

∆ • More Perceptions of Heiderfilme • ∆

Today a pleasantly lengthy conversation with educational historian Craig Kridel, about uses of film in American education, led to another connection within the Heider & Heider films discussed in my previous two posts.

Jerome Bruner discusses the Fritz Heider animated film in his book Actual Minds, Possible Worlds (1986) – one of more than 25 Bruner books, by the way. In the mid- and late 1960s, Jerome S. Bruner was a key architect of a landmark project in the history of modern American education, the federally-funded “Man: A Course of Study” (MACOS). He, as Director of Harvard’s Center for Cognitive Studies, collaborated with Harvard anthropologist Irven DeVore and filmmaker-ethnographer Asen Balicki to create a year-long curriculum for school children. Considered highly innovative and effective, MACOS integrated film into its work, using Balicki’s series of films documenting a Netsilik Inuit community. Enter Karl Gustav Heider, Harvard PhD ’66, who was commissioned to make an ethnographic film series for another chapter in MACOS. He returned to Indonesia to shoot film stemming from his lengthy field work on the Grand Valley Dani. By the time he got back to the U.S., conservative politicos had pulled the plug on MACOS funding. Too much cultural relativism and Godless perspective on Man as Animal for cold-war kids, it seems.

An excellent introduction to the fortunes of “Man A Course of Study,” I hear, is the National Film Board of Canada’s documentary Through These Eyes (2004). I want to see this and the actual MACOS materials, as well as their derivative educational and ethnographic films. The project’s impact, as written about in the literature of anthropology and education, was considerable, but documentary film historiography has had little say about MACOS.

Meanwhile, both Bruner and Heider carry on. Karl, as we know, continues to write and participate in his field, even as he very recently retired as Carolina Distinguished Professor at the (original) USC. Jerry (as I’ve heard he is called) Bruner, Harvard PhD ’41, is a Senior Research Fellow and Research Professor of Psychology at the NYU School of Law.

Be further humbled by perusing this list.

Books by Jerome S. Bruner
In Search of Pedagogy (2006)
Making Stories: Law, Literature, Life (2002)
Minding the Law (with Anthony Amsterdam, 2000)
The Culture of Education (1996)
Acts of Meaning (1990)
Interaction in Human Development (with Marc Bornstein, 1989)
Making Sense: The Child’s Construction of the World (with Helen Haste, 1987)
Actual Minds, Possible Worlds (1986)
A Study of Thinking (1986)
Child's Talk: Learning to Use Language (1983)
In Search of Mind: Essays in Autobiography (1983)
Under Five in Britain (1980)
On Knowing: Essays for the Left Hand (1979)
Human Growth and Development (with Alison Garton, 1978)
The Process of Education (1977)
Play: Its Role in Development and Evolution (with Jolly & Sylva, 1976)
Patterns of Growth (1974)
Beyond the Information Given: Studies in the Psychology of Knowing (1973)
The Relevance of Education (1971)
Toward a Theory of Instruction (1968)
Processes of Cognitive Growth: Infancy (1968)
Studies in Cognitive Growth (with others, 1966)
Man; A Course of Study (1965)
A Study of Thinking (with Jacqueline Goodnow & George Austin, 1956)
Perception and Personality (with David Krech, 1950)
Mandate from the People (1944)
Public Thinking on Post-war Problems (1943)