Through these Eyes – MACOS revisted

In Through these Eyes, ( National Film Board, 2004) Charles Laird revisits the development of Bruner’s Man a Course of Study, social studies curriculum. In the early seventies educators attempted to transform cultural teaching for primarily American, elementary school students in an effort to develop cultural awareness, critical thinking and a more developed sense of what it means to be human. They did this by exploring Netsilik Inuit culture as was presented in films and comparing them with American values. Many of these films and discusssions took place in my own school,(I remember the seal) in Ontario although I was unaware of the controversey. The film discusses the Christian backlash to the notion of man as animal and cultural relativeness, and the overwhelming desire of many to protect traditional American values. Bruner’s contructivist model and attempts to make “kids more humane” did not succeed when the MACOS program lost funding and was pulled from the schools. The film brings up questions and concerns. What are traditional American/Canadian values? Who decides that? Have we changed much? Our current government is engaged in nudging Canadians back to the right (what is right?). Although we espouse the notion of constructivism and critical thinking, our provincial assesssment has no components that measure that. There is a great deal to learn from further study of this experiment.

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