Through These Eyes

Through These Eyes

| 55 min
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An American elementary school program from the 1970s, Man: A Course of Study (MACOS), looked to the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic to help students see their own society in a new way. At its core was The Netsilik Film Series, an acclaimed benchmark of visual anthropology from the National Film Board that captured a year in the life of an Inuit family, reconstructing an ancient culture on the cusp of contact with the outside world. But the graphic images of the Netsilik people created a clash of values that tore rifts in communities across the U.S. and revealed a fragile relationship between politics and education. A fiery national debate ensued between academic and conservative forces.

Through These Eyes looks back at the high stakes of this controversial curriculum. Decades later, as American influence continues to affect cultures worldwide, the story of MACOS resonates strongly.

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Credits
  • writer
    Charles Laird
  • director
    Charles Laird
  • producer
    Bonnie Thompson
  • editor
    Paul Mortimer
  • cinematographer
    Martin Duckworth
  • original music
    Emre Unal
    Kathy Shane
  • location sound
    Yves St-Jean
    Terry Woolf
    Tami Coleman
    Steve Corbiere
  • supervising sound editor
    Patrick Butler
  • sound design
    Sway Music Company
  • researcher
    Karen A. Wyatt
    Sarah Hurford
  • executive producer
    Graydon McCrea

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  • esolley

    I also was a student in the 1960's who participated in the curriculum study of MACOS. The program was eliminated in the Arizona schools by a Republican Senator calling it heathenism and other absurd names. The curriculum was a wonderful way of opening children s minds to culture and creating an atmosphere of critical thinking. There were no wrong or right answers. Questions were led by Socratic thinking strategies. The group of students that were in this study were my classmates and I contacted many of them while working on my doctorate in education. Because my thesis included the study of Man: A Course of Study and the fact that I had been a student actively participating in the curriculum, my line of questioning to these people were, what do you remember about the curriculum and how do you think it affected your career. Their responses were amazing. Sixty year old people expressing how they became critical thinkers, open minded strategists, doctors, lawyers, pilots, and entrepreneurs as a result of good curriculum in a poor, suburban neighborhood. A brilliant man created the curriculum and an idiot politician removed it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the Netsilik people. Ester Solley, PhD, Education, Curriculum and Instruction

    esolley, 29 Jan 2016
  • throughmyeyes

    I saw the The Netsilik Film Series as part of my elementary school curriculum in Canada during the 1970s. The film series made such an impression on me that, I decided to try and find (at least) mention of it online. I was saddened (but not really surprised) to watch the documentary and learn how MACOS was received in the US.

    throughmyeyes, 26 Dec 2015
  • Philaster

    As a primary school student in Brisbane, Australia in the early 1970s I studied this course. I can honestly say that nothing in all my twelve years of schooling has both fascinated and stayed with me throughout my life as this programme did. As in the US the programme was cancelled in Australia through the advent of fundamentalist Christian intervention. That something so educationally engaging and thought provoking was cancelled has always bothered me. Watching this documentary brought tears to my eyes, tears brought about by the sadness and narrow-minded anti-intellectual actions of people unable to appreciate the value in any culture that wasn't their own. I am fifty-three years old now, I would have been twelve when I studied the course; I've never watched any of the course material in those intervening thirty-one years and yet I remembered it all with clarity - that alone is a testament to how well-developed and intellectually stimulating the course must have been. Thank-you for making “Through These Eyes” freely available, thank-you to the original people involved in designing the course and finally, thank-you very much to the Netsilik people for allowing a twelve year old on the other side of the world a glimpse into your life and culture, it may not have been valued by everyone but it was by me.

    Philaster, 2 Oct 2015
  • qanuipiit

    This video happens to be shot in Kugaaruk, Nunavut and the cover page is my mom. Its nice to know the curriculum and videos were enjoyed by people. However the particular video and talking about MACOs and students in the US has no understanding of the inuit people. It saddens me to watch this and how its so negatively people in the Arctic are portrait. I grew up in the Arctic with my parents and it was the most rewarding experience and continues to do so as they are both still living. We pride ourselves has inuk just like any other culture around the world.

    qanuipiit, 18 Aug 2012
  • didoro

    I am now 52 years old. The ONLY thing that I remember specifically learning throughout all of my school years, was almost every bit of Man: A Course of Study. I was fascinated. I learned. I remember.

    didoro, 6 Jun 2012
  • billlach

    When I was in fifth grade I was exposed to a special program called “Man: A Course of Study” or MACOs. This was a unique program at the time with some very non-traditional methods of execution, content, and format. This program taught us about human value and culture through the watching and discussion of documentary footage of wildlife leading to life in a fading Alaskan culture. At a young age I knew I was participating in something special and unique. I felt privileged to be participating in this program. It opened my heart and mind and energized and expanded my thinking. I was thinking about this program recently and decided to do a little research. It wasn’t long before I came upon this documentary explaining the political ripple effect of this program and what led to its demise. It quite literally sickened me to watch. I had no idea all of this happened in the background.

    billlach, 31 Mar 2012
  • rmanna

    I first learned about Man: A Course of Study as a graduate student in education in 1969-70. In 1970-71 I became one of a small group of teachers who piloted this anthropological social studies curriculum in the Maplewood-South Orange, NJ, public schools. In 1972 I moved to the Chicago area and again taught MACOS in a Chicago suburb until 1977. As a young teacher this innovative curriculum formed who I became as a teacher and MACOS opne-ended discussions came to characterize my classroom. The spirit of questions and the openess to discuss any topic continued even after I was no longer able to teach MACOS. I believe this thoughtful approach to social studies left a lasting impression on my students, but I know it has affected my life as teacher, mother, and now as curriculum director. Two of my own adult children are now teachers one on the elementary level and the other on the college level and they approach teaching with the same open, inquisitive spirit. So it's important for those who created this curriculum to know that the affect has been long-lasting and continues from one generation to the next.

    rmanna, 16 May 2011
  • bern

    Why is this video not available

    bern, 9 Nov 2010
  • mrlozier

    My father taught the MACOS curriculum and thought it was absolutely the best thing. When his school stopped using it, he couldn't bear to see it thrown away and brought it home. I have the films and a lot of the books that go with the series. I was about to put them on my burn pile but then thought I should look it up on-line. To my surprise, my father was not the only one who thought highly of the curriculum!

    mrlozier, 30 Jul 2010
  • janeticamp@hotmail.com

    The same thing continues in the US educational system. I am an anthropologist who taught my four children a full program of anthropology at home, thus causing a lot of difficulty for myself and them at school. This film breaks my heart for the Netsilik people and for the awful anti-intellectualism so prevalent in my country. It's the same story now with evolution and almost any kind of science. In spite of the discomfort of watching this film, I am glad I saw it--I think I saw some of the footage in college, but will now read the related literature and refamiliarize myself with these fascinating people.

    janeticamp@hotmail.com, 23 Jan 2010