THE NEUROSCIENCE OF MOVEMENT, TIME AND SPACE: AN ARTS EDUCATIONAL STUDY OF THE EMBODIED BRAIN by ANNE-MARIE R. LAMONDE B.P.E., The University of Calgary, 1990 B.Ed., The University of Calgary, 1991 M.A., The University of British Columbia, 2002 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Curriculum Studies) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) April 2011 © Anne-Marie R. LaMonde, 2011 ii ABSTRACT This thesis is an exploration of the contributions of contemporary theories in film and literacy with the purpose of understanding how those theories inform an arts-based researcher in education. Additionally, further insights are drawn from cognitive, social, and neurosciences with the purpose of broadening the scope of understanding that stretches across multiple disciplines wherein film and literacy education is found. By engaging in a wide exploration across multiple fields of knowledge, this thesis shows the extent to which the general belief of the incommensurability between the arts, philosophy, cognitive, social and neurosciences has impacted negatively on education. It is believed, however, that knowledge gained through the study of contemporary theories in film and literacy, which is founded upon the philosophical, psychological, and sociological, may achieve greater clarity and insight when framed within the scope of advanced studies in neurosciences. With the interweaving of autobiographical accounts, explorations in the theoretical and experimental lead to a renewed understanding of film, arts, and literacy pedagogy. Finally, it is believed that understanding the convergence of the brain’s cognitive, emotional, and sensorimotor functions and the primacy of movement, is pivotal to understanding the complex issues of brain-body-mind that range from consciousness to learning. iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ……………………………………………………………………………ii Table of Contents ……………………………………………………………………iii List of Figures……….……..…………………………………………………………v Acknowledgements…………………………………………………………………..vi CHAPTER ONE Introduction and overview.....……………………………………1 1.1 Overture: A prologue to the themes………………………………………1 1.2 Investigative prelude…………………………………………………….13 CHAPTER TWO Literature review and discussion……………………………….33 2.1 Situating the purpose, research questions and concerns ..………………33 2.2 A deeper look into the school’s philosophy …………………………….37 2.3 A surprising find: the puzzling field of film literacy ……………………39 2.4 Surveying the situation in education…………………………………….50 2.5 Motion pictures: the event that changed the world……………………...56 2.6 Graduate researchers and the emergence of a collective ………………..61 2.7 Film arts as literacy, communications, and technology…………………66 2.8 The rise of film research in education: in search of the expert………….72 2.9 The dizzying effects of revolution………………………………………84 2.10 Searching for a new direction ………………………………………...91 2.11 Reflecting on the urgent call to action…………………………………94 2.12 The knowledge digital ethnographic experts presently offer ………….96 2.13 The knowledge communication experts presently offer...……………100 2.14 Questions and concerns that continue to haunt arts educators ………107 CHAPTER THREE Methodology………….……………………………………112 3.1 Modes of inquiry ………………………………………………………112 3.2 A deeper look into brain research.……………………………………..118 3.3 Consciousness and the flow of images ...………………………………122 3.4 Another perspective on the idea of image ……………………………..124 3.5 The brain, images, and film ……………………………………………126 3.6 The flow of movement and arts-based education ……………………...131 3.7 Sensory dispositions and image formation …………………………….134 3.8 The somatic marker hypothesis ………………………………………..136 3.9 Darwin’s insight into art ……………………………………………….141 3.10 The arts as concrete and symbolic inventory…………………………146 3.11 Understanding film in education ……………………………………..154 3.12 The convergence of specialists and generalists ………………………156 3.13 Dismantling the mirrored dissention …………………………………166 iv 3.14 Nature and nurture: The struggle continues…………………………..169 3.15 Language as grammar, syntax and semantics ………………………..172 3.16 Near and far: the spatial side of the part-whole dichotomy…………..178 3.17 Spatial reasoning: its impact on research methodologies …………….190 3.18 Emotions and cognition: the importance of things felt and the matter-of-fact …………………………………………………………192 CHAPTER FOUR Analysis ………………………………………………………199 4.1 In search of meaning: cognition, perception and language ……………199 4.2 Language and thought as equal, independent, or deterministic………..207 4.3 Observations of a Deaf student negotiating music concepts …………..214 4.4 Is there such a thing as semantics in music? …………………………..224 4.5 The impact of language and cognition theories on pedagogy …………229 4.6 A cognitive music theory: neither language nor transcendent…………231 4.7 Rethinking imitation, meaning and understanding …………………….236 4.8 Creative reasoning: a cognitive-perceptive act of logic .………………242 4.9 Universals as determining language and cognition ……………………245 4.10 A cognitive and emotional register …………………………………252 4.11 The semantic brain: in search of the language of thought ……………254 4.12 The flip side: mirror neurons …………………………………………259 4.13 The discovery of mirror neurons shifts perception studies …………..261 4.14 Hypothesizing the function of mirror neurons ……………………….266 4.15 Mirror neurons beyond imitation: learning new action patterns ……..272 4.16 Hypothesizing the relationship between mirror neurons and conceptual semantics …………………………………………………273 4.17 Fussy verbs prove to be connected to reality…………………………278 4.18 Mirror neurons in action………………………………………………285 CHAPTER FIVE Synthesis………………………………………………………291 5.1. Ethical chasm: an experiment in film pedagogy and research methodology ..…………………………………………………………291 5.2 The grammar of film: a temporal-spatial logic ………………………..298 5.3 Test audiences: film reception and interpretation ……………………..304 5.4 The experiment proves to be both a success and failure ………………306 5.5 Experiences not abstracted from our sensory experiences …………….316 5.6 Building capacity: the brain that changes through pedagogy………….317 REFERENCES ……………………………………………………………………326 v LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. Palindrome set-up………………………………………………………..288 vi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS My deepest gratitude goes to my thesis supervisor Dr. Peter Gouzouasis for the many years of intellectual and artistic exchange, as well as his continuous support throughout. His confidence in my investigative process gave me the much appreciated space and time to allow me to plunge into the unknown and bring to the surface treasures from the deep. Also, I am deeply indebted to my two quintessential committee advisors, Dr. Carl Leggo and Dr. Shelley Hymel. Without their support, insights, challenges, encouragement, artistry, and dedication, I would not have been able to see this project through. I would also like to thank Dr. Joy Butler, Dr. Janet Jamieson, and Dr. Celeste Snowber for their probing questions and incisive anecdotes that set the tone during the examination period, which will continue to reverberate in me as an openness toward multi-disciplinary research. I am also grateful for the financial support, along with the support of the faculty and staff from the Department of Curriculum Studies at UBC. The department’s commitment to graduate students has been outstanding. To my children, Natalie, Marci, and Gregory, I thank them each for their intelligence, their penetrating views, and marvelous contributions to my work and studies. I deeply appreciate my parents, John and Paulette, for their unconditional love, support, and encouragement throughout the years, which has been a constant guide and motivational force. There are numerous students and friends who have been fundamental to my personal and professional growth. I will be forever grateful for their unbounded creativity and the stories they shared. Though there have been too many over the years to name them all, yet they will remain unforgettable; their presence will be as a thread of continuity to my life. Finally, to Marc Retailleau, whose companionship, love, faith, artistry, and uncompromising process toward a higher purpose and consciousness watered the seeds of knowledge and pressed me forward to finding my voice. 1 CHAPTER ONE Reasoning and education, though we are willing to put our trust in them, can hardly be powerful enough to lead us to action, unless besides we exercise and form our soul by experience to the way we want it to go; otherwise, when it comes to the time for action, it will undoubtedly find itself at a loss (Montaigne, 1958, p. 267). Overture: A prologue to the themes To give a sense of the work herein, I consider the importance of the title of this thesis: The neuroscience of movement, time and space: An arts educational study of the embodied brain. Carefully chosen for its ambiguities, implications, denotations, connotations and context, the title may mean everything and nothing. As a colleague of mine said jokingly when she first heard it, “You lost me at neuroscience.” Setting humor aside, her response was not surprising. At first glance, the term neuroscience carries an aura of scientific complexity and appears steeped in reductionism far removed from the demands of classroom practice or the kind of research that has been the hallmark of education, which for good reason has been rooted in philosophy, psychology, social sciences, and the arts. Though I gratefully acknowledge those areas of research, which continue to bring the human condition to light, my choice to devote time to the neurosciences seemed to be logical given our collective need to understand perception, cognition and emotion. Moreover, the discoveries in neuroscience appeared as a new means to confront dualistic thinking since the time of the Greeks. With a span of over hundred years of observation and study, the field of neuroscience has led me to challenging and astonishing new insights into the embodied brain. It is without question that research is dependent upon lived experiences that lead us to deeper investigations, though more precisely the objects of our fascination, for as Walt Whitman (2006) once wrote, 2 There was a child went forth everyday; and the first object he looked upon, that object he became; and that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day, or for many years or stretching cycles of years. To those who know me well, it is clear that movement has been my object of fascination since childhood, wherein I trained and practiced in dance, gymnastics, sports, music, acting, speech arts, and filmmaking. Through flights of fancy, through applied skills, through composition, teaching, and study, my lifelong practice in the movement arts made the object of movement a part of me for many years and stretching cycles of years. Over the past five years, as my awareness grew with respect to the pivotal nature of movement in my collective experiences, I became increasingly frustrated with theories I encountered in philosophy, psychology, social sciences, and the arts, which submitted captivating descriptions but failed to offer adequate explanations. My recourse to brain research was a leap of faith that beyond descriptions I would find the explanatory. Indeed, through neuroscience I discovered the primacy of movement in the processes of perception, cognition and emotion as well as the arts. And with great delight, the cognitive sciences offered convincing theories on the primacy of movement in language and cognition. My interest in the study of the brain and body, in effect, began over twenty-five years ago while studying dance education. However, it was while apprenticing to become a teacher that I happened upon a collection of case histories recounted by humanist and neurologist Oliver Sacks, which awakened my passion. As the brain’s peculiar make up was described through telltale stories of neurological disorder, I could not help but be struck by wonder. 3 Yet it was but a few years ago that I learned about the brain’s holistic flow in creating what neurologist Alexander Luria (1972) called, kinetic melodies. First, by the interconnected and integrative nature of the brain, which coordination resembles an orchestral and movement ensemble and, second, by its extraordinary plasticity, which veritably mirrors the creative and flexible nature of linguistic and artistic expressions. As I gained knowledge of the brain’s complex neural communication networks, which creates mind through image spaces and dispositions that enable both a core and extended consciousness, I was driven to retrace dualisms in search of theories that hold the halves inseparable and whole. As an artist and arts educator, I have felt that the debates between nature/nurture, perception/cognition, reason/emotion, and, of course, mind/body, as mostly disingenuous. I imagine many academics and researchers have experienced battle fatigue over the debates that have formed in our collective Western minds to describe and explain the world in part. But having held faith in the corollary between arts and sciences, I readily leapt into the unknown, believing that if not now, one day the study of the brain may reveal the whole we all seek. In addition, I felt a certain kinship with neuroscience, which has up until recently remained on the fringes of knowledge for several hundred years, quietly operating through the observation and intuition of artists and scientists. Advances in technology over several centuries, which allowed biology, physics, and chemistry to make important discoveries were not yet available for the neurosciences. Up until fifteen years ago, we had not yet found adequate means to peer into the living brain. But with the invention of photography and the development of over hundred years of filmic images that soon led to the invention of magnetic and digital imaging, it has only been a matter of time that the neurosciences would leap into the fore. 4 Nonetheless, what began as a pastime to read the keen and sensitive portrayals of unique individuals, Oliver Sacks led me down the rabbit hole into the wonderland of neurology. Sacks introduced me to Russian neurologist and linguist Alexander Luria (1972), whose incisive account of a wounded soldier in, Man with a shattered world, influenced many generations of neuroscientists to follow. Hence, this thesis draws insights and theories from the recent generation of neuroscientists, namely, Antonio Damasio, V.S. Ramachandran, Rizzolatti and Sinigaglia, and Milner and Goodale to name a few. I also lean on the insights of cognitive linguists whose collaboration with neuroscience began long ago with Wernicke and Broca’s discoveries of the brain’s speech centers upon studying stroke victims in the late 1800s (Pinker, 2008). In any case, apart from neuroscience, it is the word movement, which holds utmost importance. As such, I include in the title the two interrelated and indivisible contexts within which movement flows, namely, time and space. Time and space are infinitely whole, flowing, and continuous. And though our human intellect can imagine and express infinity in poetic and rational ways, our lived experience tells us that our finite intelligence understands time and space best when they are divided, discontinuous, and examined in part. We understand and express time and space as finite instances that appear in the memorable past, the phenomenal present, and imagined future. Time and space are then and now, near and far, sudden and sustained, fast and slow, bounded and unbounded. Time and space being directional and containing shape, mass, and weight, position us by providing the figure and ground upon which we are able to interact in a finite reality. This interaction ensures our ability to adapt to the present by drawing from the past. By observing causal patterns in order to infer, predict, plan and create artifacts 5 for the future. And to bring to pass what Alfred N. Whitehead (1938) described as the ‘importance of things felt’ and ‘the matter-of-fact.’ None of which we would be able to do without movement, for it is by the flow of movement that we attend to and recall the objects of our existence. If this view of movement appears confusing, one may find clarity in reflecting that it is by the flow of movement that our brain takes note of a before and after, wherein we sense that some thing has moved from here to there or from then to now. It is by movement that we are able to reconstruct the worlds we sense within and without our bodies to attend to and retain in memory our lived reality, and by movement that we reach toward or pull away from what is imminently in our best interest. It is through movement, through the flow of electrical impulses and chemistry in the brain, which flow moves freely in and out of the cortical and sub-cortical systems, perceiving and deploying vital information to our bodies and to our emotional and cognitive centers whereby the human mind is created. It is this continuous flow that is ‘the stuff of our universe.’ The rest of the title speaks to the fact that far from being an expert in neurology, I am an artist and arts educator desiring to participate in a world where language and reason holds political and economic primacy. Methodologically, I was encouraged to follow in the footsteps of neurologists whose use of autobiographies (what neurologist V.S. Ramachandran calls, ‘the n of 1’) is crucial to our understanding of the embodied brain. Beyond the importance of the autobiographical as method, to truly understand the self, as Socrates once declared, positions us to better understand what lies outside of us. It is upon film and language that I chose to focus my research because of their structural semblance in grammar, syntax, and semantics. Since film and language are also profoundly acoustic and kinetic, I was able to draw from my years of experience in music and dance as 6 complimentary arts. Because dance respects a very specific form and style of movement, I chose to generalize elements of movement through the work of Rudolf Von Laban, who classified essential aspects across a spectrum of motion from the pedestrian and occupational to the highly skilled forms of artistry. Likewise, music is analyzed for its structure and developmental learning theories, rather than its emotional valence in filmed works. My film understanding, which began in childhood as a means to learn a second language, spans my experiences as a student in cinematic studies and film theory, as filmmaker, and film educator. The data for analysis includes a short film, which I produced for an educational conference to delineate the concept of near/far through the subject of a dancer, along with a short film produced by an undergraduate student whose playful elements of visual and acoustic time and space were made intelligible through examining the theory of spatial reasoning, such as near/far, put forward by neuroscientists Rizzolatti and Sinigaglia (2008). I also analyze a choreography, entitled Palindrome, which demonstrates the theory of “action understanding,” as also put forward by neurologists Rizzolatti and Sinigaglia (2008), and expounded upon by Milner and Goodale (2006), in relation to the manner by which the sensorimotor systems operate conjointly to interpret transitive and intransitive gestures for the purpose of imitating, deciding, planning and taking action. The theory of “action understanding” was aided by the discovery of mirror neurons, which was put forward by V.S. Ramachandran and associates (1998). Temporal/spatial reasoning, action understanding and mirror neurons are just a few of the several areas I draw from the neurosciences to better understand the processes and products of film, language, music, and dance. By drawing on the strengths and shortcomings of theories in the cognitive sciences and developmental psychology, I also analyze my experience in teaching a Deaf student in a music 7 context. By turning to cognitive and neurosciences, I attempt to explain the extraordinary capacities of a brain to understand music irrespective of possessing a sense of hearing. One key piece of evidence I chose from which to analyze and draw final conclusions, to which I dedicate the last chapter, was a short film I produced for my faculty’s former dean, Dr. Robert J. Tierney (2008). Though the film appeared unrelated to my thesis at its initial undertaking, its experimental nature was the impetus that changed the course of this thesis. It is upon this final analysis that I have concluded on the importance of film as research methodology and classroom practice. The making of the film commissioned by Tierney (2001-2001), was based on an article he published in the Journal of Adolescent Literacy, originally entitled: An ethical chasm: Jurisprudence, jurisdiction and the literacy profession. Written principally to identify the political and legal forces behind literacy education, it speaks to the primacy of literacy education to foster the ability to reason, most often termed ‘critical thinking.’ What arose in my mind as I pondered Tierney’s text was, what type of reasoning would affect behaviors and attitudes we are desperate to foster in schools—such as fairness, empathy, acceptance, and cooperation—and do literacy approaches, as those are implemented today in our schools, target that kind of reasoning? Tierney’s initial writing for the article took poetic license from a literary work, namely a courtroom drama depicted in David Guterson’s (1995), novel Snow falling on cedars, which set in motion his intent to express complex terms through a literary lens—one could say an experiment in its own right. He then re-contextualized the article as a Reader’s Theatre piece for educational audiences, followed by the production of a short film drama, which I directed, edited, and scored. Since my sensibilities, as an arts educator, has been to foster freedom of thought, agency and democracy—tenets upheld by the artistic creed—it was serendipitous that Tierney’s article 8 was founded upon those principles through a literacy lens. Unquestionably, I was drawn to this experiment both rationally and passionately because of its consciousness-raising medium and message—for instance, as a work of art revealing the world of literacy education, which world utilizes the arts for expression. Clearly, as McLuhan (1963) once noted, within a medium lies another medium. To identify my research questions, I was mindful of knowledge areas that today demand special attention in education, namely, (1) film and video, by virtue of an unprecedented era that is flooded with digital images, (2) literacy, by virtue of its perceived primacy in educational and political spheres, and (3) neuroscience, by virtue of a perceived incommensurability with classroom practice. I sought to know, therefore, how contemporary theories in film and literacy inform an arts-based researcher in education. I wondered what further insight is drawn from studies in the cognitive, social, and neurosciences. And whether the knowledge gained from those preceding questions, can enhance our understanding of arts and literacy so that change is positively affected in classroom pedagogy. In my review of literacy, I note its political and economic valence. Literacy is a weighty word, which was coined in 1883 and first used politically to raise funds in 1886 to address the appalling human conditions believed were caused by low literacy rates in the state of Louisiana. I note also the shift in the definition of and advocacy for literacy as digital media gained momentum. By 1996, The New London Group, an international group of literacy researchers, began to redefine and advocate for the kinds of literacy arising in a new digital economy beyond the printed word. I note also the various intentions behind research in new media as films progressed through its various forms. Media literacy sprang from a concern with the shaping of young minds, influenced by images rooted in political and economic agendas. Whilst media arts, by 9 contrast, sprang from an advocacy for the uses of new forms of communication and technology in schools, not the least of which include filmmaking and video production. Notably, the introduction of filmmaking in the classroom, as early as 1939, was by a group of English teachers. Prior to this new form of literacy, as it was called, studies were conducted on film’s so-called deleterious effects in the lives of children and youth Those studies were published as early as 1928 through the Payne Fund, and 1929 through the extensive qualitative study of behaviorist Alice Miller Mitchell. In terms of entering the school curriculum, filmmaking has a sketchy past. Over a period of more than hundred years, it has appeared and disappeared from classrooms approximately every forty years, an indication that despite some initial interest, whenever new technologies were invented to facilitate production, the making of films never developed a convincing rationale to remain a permanent fixture in schools. I note that as early as 1928 to our present day, an essential rhetoric on film in education has remained the purview of media, literacy, communications and film experts whose agenda is to direct film viewing and production for the purpose of steering an undiscerning public toward good citizenry, which the New London Group (1996) deemed to promote the good life and an equitable society. Whereas film studies stayed clear of directing film viewing or production, its specialization has challenged superficial viewing and processes by amateurs, including those in education. Those historical movements were founded on the perceived urgency of the times and a positioning of a new breed of experts. What is clear is that with each new consumer trend, educators and film experts resist or embrace the changing times out of sense of urgency or a feeling that something must be done to either stop the flow or ride the wave. 10 Notably, film theory and studies, which sprang from a passion for the cinema since the Lumière brothers’ invention of the movie camera in 1889, aligned itself with twentieth century research and theoretical paradigms. Beginning as a phenomenological enterprise among amateur film enthusiasts, who exchanged the ontological and epistemological virtues of the film image in new film journals, its study and theory arose as an expert field in academia by the 1950’s. Film studies have leaned heavily on the theories prevalent in philosophy, structural linguistics, psychology, semiotics, cognitive linguistics and the social sciences. Each enterprise has appeared like Russian nesting dolls, applying twentieth century grand theories to their particular object of study in film. In reviewing the whole of the literature, it became increasingly apparent that a vital piece of knowledge was missing, namely, understanding the image and how the human mind interprets the world through what Damasio (1999) termed “movies-in-the-brain.” Despite the availability of hundreds of theories describing the image, an adequate explanation of how the image forms in the brain and for what purpose it forms, has eluded educational researchers and film theorists. Neuroscience explains that it is our sensory-somatic system, which ‘translates’ incoming signals into images, the purpose for which appears to regulate a ‘mindful’ relationship with the world. Yet what connects images to judging and valuing the world? Damasio (1999) offers a telling proposal. Emotions of all shades eventually help connect homeostatic regulation and survival ‘values’ to numerous events and objects in our autobiographical experience. Emotions are inseparable from the idea of reward or punishment, of pleasure or pain, of approach or withdrawal, of personal advantage or disadvantage. Inevitably, emotions are inseparable from the idea of good and evil (pp. 54-55). It is thus a constant flow of images, which give rise to “the sense of self in the act of knowing,” and ultimately constitutes the seat of consciousness (p. 19). 11 Through my analysis of the short film experiment, namely Ethical Chasm, I conclude that it is both a failure and a success. Its success was in driving a passionate relationship with the making of the film and its content, which led me to the discovery of vital information for education. The failure of the film experiment, which I sensed and felt before I could analyze it, was brought to the fore once I understood the orchestration of the brain’s integrative systems. Neuroscience, which is just beginning to unpack how the brain-body creates mind, and how the mind subsequently constructs meaning in language, film, music and all other manner of human expression, is now unequivocally proving the intimacy between subject/object and between nature/nurture. Film and language are technologies that extend our bodies and senses. Film and language are constructed to mirror or give semblance to the perceptual, cognitive, and emotional fabric of our lived realities, which are indubitably rooted in movement, time and space. Every nuance of movement, as noted by expert and novice alike, will be processed by the brain and given value in our minds, which value must accord with our surroundings. Human development and the artifacts we produce, therefore are the processes of nature and nurture, subject and object, which retrieve from simple, finite elements, as Chomsky so noted, to create infinite expressions. As a script, Ethical Chasm is dependent upon complex dialogue to clearly delineate the issues founded in literacy education, but its message becomes lost in the medium of motion photography and sound. Without special attention to neurological principles, for instance, “action understanding,” which ability to perceive and attend to movement, helps to identify motives and intent that lead to deciding on a plan of action, the visual/aural medium portrays little more than the feeling one is watching a lot of hand waving—the importance of which can be guessed at through location, namely a courtroom, and facial expressions without the details. But the vital 12 message is lost in translation, precisely because film is not at its best when it depends on language to express meaning. It would have been best to leave it as a Reader’s Theatre or even a radio play. For the film to convey its message, many more images and actions would have had to be shot and edited. Nonetheless, the success in experimenting with film in research and pedagogy offers one a unique opportunity to study images that form within and without the brain, to engage in the autobiographical, and to participate in the shaping of consciousness, which many literacy educators call “critical thinking.” In an era, which heretofore had never provided novices and experts alike with the means to produce and distribute films worldwide, educators may come to view film as vital to raising consciousness. Art, which meaning is ‘to fit together,’ is indeed the most salient means to bridging the perceptual, cognitive, and emotional coherence of the brain. Because Literacy education’s current tenets lay beyond the boundaries of the printed word, it may deliver its promises to emancipate the learner if the movement arts are valued as vital, unique and equal in the quest to foster the development of the child. To what end do film arts and arts generally lead us? First, by experimenting with film and the arts beyond merely accommodating cognitive deficits or enhancing interests, we may begin to re-evaluate non-verbal reasoning, which expression is inevitably entwined with higher order thinking. Second, by experimenting with the arts, which emotional quality is inextricable from our ability to interpret, predict, and plan our actions, educators may be entreated to carefully attend to the pedagogy of emotion alongside cognition. Finally, judging from the narrative and experimental videos my elementary, secondary, and undergraduate learners have produced over the years through my instruction, I am convinced that filmic images and sound offer one of the most accessible means for constructing the 13 autobiographical and for changing cognitive and emotional neural patterns that may lead future generations toward higher consciousness. Investigative prelude Over fifteen years ago, while working predominantly as an arts educator with a music emphasis in the public school system, I ventured into the classroom with a strong desire to undertake the art of filmmaking. There had been plenty of educational reasons for taking up such a project. The first had centered on the ‘images’ of democracy and agency that had arose in my mind while working with inner-city youth who I imagined would be able to tell their stories through documentary film. A few years later, those reasons had centered on the ‘image’ of our time that postulated a ‘new knowledge society.’ There was, of course, the publication of the ‘manifesto’ on new literacies by The New London Group (1996), which collective of educators in literacy education strongly upheld the tenets of democracy and personal agency. But it was a description by Linda Darling-Hammond (1997), which I clearly remember gave importance to the times in which I had entered as an educator. The new basics demanded by today’s knowledge society require that all students be able to meet requirements previously reserved for only the ‘talented tenth.’ They must learn to: understand and use complex materials; communicate clearly and persuasively; plan and organize their own work; access and use resources; solve sophisticated mathematical and scientific problems; create new ideas and products, and use new technologies in all of these pursuits (p. 5). Generally speaking, images are not fully understood. The manner in which they arise as ‘artifacts’ in the mind, the fact that images are not solely visual, the manner in which they are stored in memory, recalled, and later ‘represented’ or expressed through varied modalities. Moreover, it is not fully understood why images often seem to return full circle, which phenomenon resembles what Nietzsche called, the eternal return. Darling-Hammond could have been speaking of another generation, in a time when ‘technologies’ or ‘machines’ were pushing the limits of our expectations of mental processes. 14 For instance, in a 1950 speech to the American Psychological Association (APA), J.P. Guilford’s (1987) urgent plea for cognitive scientists to devote their energies to studying creativity was based on two powerful images. With the advancement of computers or what Guilford called “thinking machines,” which he “expected to make man’s brain relatively useless,” he imaged “an industrial revolution that will pale into insignificance the first industrial revolution” (p. 36). Out of necessity, therefore, there was a growing need to “develop an economic order in which sufficient employment and wage would still be available, which would require creative thinking of an unusual order and speed” (p. 36). The second image was much darker in mood, namely, that “the only economic value of brains left would be in the creative thinking of which they are capable. Presumably, there would still be need for human brains to operate the machines and to invent better ones” (p. 36). I have no reason to doubt that Guilford’s address to the American Psychological Association was an echo of an image that rippled throughout society. Certainly DarlingHammond (1997) was echoing an image already rendered by The New London Group (1996) who began their manifesto by reporting on a different kind of learner. As if to confirm Guilford’s prophetic view of a future generation, new definitive pronouncements were made such as one by Gayle Long (1997), “Teachers today are seeing a new kind of student enter their classrooms. Many children sat at a computer for the first time shortly after they received their first pair of shoes. They’re the Nintendo generation or the screenagers—the first to grow up with personal computers, video games and the Internet. They expect material to be presented to them in a creative and challenging way and are eager to experiment with innovations in technology” (p. 17). Nothing could have been more motivating to consider presenting film arts than the image of experimenting with innovations in technology. 15 Yet there were other reasons for venturing on such an ambitious project. The fact is that teaching artistic processes and products had always brought several conflicting issues to the fore. The first conflict was the issue of ensuring the right balance of ‘direct instruction’ for building skills with ‘open-ended’ compositional projects designed to foster creative processes and products. Direct instruction in an arts program could be viewed as ‘imitative’ for the purpose of building sensory-somatic memory (i.e., motor skills and conceptual awareness). But it could also be thought of as ‘image flooding,’ a useful notion to describe the numerous artistic activities or models to which learners are exposed. A thoughtfully structured, developmentally cognitive program of arts, which would ‘flood’ the learning with good modeling, had long been considered by artists and arts educators to foster creativity (H’Doubler, 1940; Orff & Walter, 1963). Along with ‘image flooding’ was the notion that young people create under the constraints of open-ended tasks, i.e., enabling constraints. As a performing artist, my improvisational and compositional skills in music, theatre, and dance were developed largely through frameworks that sufficiently constrained the magnitude of possibilities into a reasonable sphere of potentiality. Rather than beginning with a blank slate (i.e., tabula rasa), the arts educators I was fortunate to encounter as an apprentice encouraged playful investigations through an abundance of mental images framed by the limits of movement, time and space. Relying on my own apprenticeship as a means to creative thinking, I had already pursued this approach with learners long before entering the public school system and I wished to take more careful note of the results as a teacher-researcher. To my great surprise, I would later encounter a neuropsychological approach to enabling learning or relearning of disabled limbs or senses (e.g., stroke victims) whereby physical constraints are used, not unlike the constraints used in artistic contexts (Doidge, 2007). The essence of ‘learning’ may be understood as an innate evolutionary tendency for living organisms 16 to adapt to new environments. Notwithstanding, from a neuroscience perspective, higher order learning represents a creative process inherent of higher order brains, such that primates and humans possess, which may be challenged by new sensorimotor inputs (i.e., inputs to both motor and sensory areas of the brain). Quite literally, the brain creates neural maps according to sensorimotor inputs since birth and is capable of changing those maps with use or disuse (i.e., new inputs) until death (Doidge, 2007). But an understanding of the brain as possessing neural plasticity from birth to death has taken science more than a century to accept as a fact (Damasio, 1999; Doidge, 2007). As such, the Taub Therapy Clinic, which practices constraint-induced movement therapy (CI), is but one example of an enabling constraint in physical contexts. Taub’s therapy has unequivocally demonstrated that the brain may be challenged to overcome ‘learned behavior’ due to neural disuse (e.g., paralyzed limbs, phantom limb pain, loss of speech, etc.) by changing its neural maps (Doidge, 2007). Enabling constraints, therefore, are limits that ‘force’ the brain to seek alternate pathways and must be viewed as nothing less than enabling creativity or, essentially, the ability to learn. The second conflicting issue was in balancing the evaluative processes that were aimed not simply toward skill assessments but also creativity. Faced with the research that had been published on criterion-referenced assessments and rubric-based evaluations, I was more than curious. My view of assessment criteria and evaluation ‘rubrics’ came strictly from competitive arenas (e.g., music and speech festivals). I saw nothing wrong with preparing students for participation in festivals, any more than preparing students for science fairs (e.g., Odyssey of the Mind). I did, however, balk somewhat at the notion that an arts program would either lean more toward competition or try to fit creative processes and products into a ‘competitive’ framework. 17 In all honesty, evaluating creativity had always been far from simple by virtue of the fact that creativity is yet to be fully explained whether by creators or researchers. This explanatory gap exists despite six decades of exhaustive research on creativity set off by J.P. Guilford’s seminal address whereby he stated, “the neglect of this subject by psychologists is appalling” (Guilford, 1987, p. 34). The problem with creativity is not unlike other phenomena that take place in brain processes, such as consciousness, reason, emotion, thought, and images. The problem is exasperated by the fact that ‘the brain’ is literally trying to peer into ‘the brain’ to find an answer to its existence. Fortunately, advanced technologies in the past several years have achieved a level of sophistication that can truly enable us to peer inside the human brain. Therein lies some hope that studies involving creativity will be advanced. Of course, as with the birth of any passionate endeavor in the classroom, the real reason came down to the fact that there had been a succession of personal experiences in film that had led up to my new motivation and drive. And subsequent to implementing film arts, there was a succession of experiences that arose from the classroom that raised my curiosity and desire to investigate the phenomena I observed. In an educational setting, where it is generally accepted that learning is dependent on meaningful connections with the ‘objects’ upon which we come into contact, it may seem unnecessary to contemplate this experiential factor further. For clearly, there is nothing very remarkable about the fact that my artistic experiences prior to entering the classroom and after implementing arts instruction was the impetus for this current study. Certainly it would not surprise an arts educator to learn that my experiences led me to wonder in what manner we interact with film as a creative motion art that parallels areas of learning for which I sought explanatory approaches, i.e., language, music, drama, and dance. Nor would it surprise an educator, faced with countless conflicted learning theories, that I would be excited at the prospect of an instructional area that was, so to speak, ‘virgin ground.’ This new 18 ‘technologically’ based curriculum seemed to offer the opportunity to discover pedagogical principles not yet implemented or studied, unencumbered with instructional ‘best practices.’ Nonetheless, from an educational research standpoint, personal experiences would appear to merely serve to situate the study or position the researcher’s ‘subjectivity’ within an acceptable range of the scholarly. This factor of experience, however, requires a far deeper contemplation if we are to penetrate the problem of brain-mind-body that currently plagues educators who possess a profound interest in removing barriers to learning through general practice. Notions of experience, in fact, are as relevant to the educator as it is to the neuroscientist, since each are faced with understanding both the general and particular manner by which individuals apprehend their world. In educational circles, a particular means of knowing has engendered the notion of ‘individualized learning,’ whereas ‘best practices’ are viewed as general approaches across populations. Nonetheless, since the subjective experience is relevant to both areas of study (i.e., how an individual experiences the world directly), one could go so far as to suggest that education and neuroscience are dependent on phenomenal encounters whereby the subjective experience poses the greatest challenge to understanding the brain-body-mind complex. The subjective experience may be characterized as particular knowledge (i.e., images, thoughts and feelings) gained directly through the sensorimotor, which is difficult to assess directly through objective means (e.g., observation and testing). And what is not easily tested is not easily generalized to a population. If such a challenge were overcome, both fields would achieve their ultimate goal, namely, to alleviate suffering by helping individuals to reach personal fulfillment and happiness. Both education and neuroscience and their practices are inexorably, if unwittingly, connected by virtue of their core fascination with the development of the brain: its capacity for 19 learning and memory, as well as its relationship with mind, body, and the ‘objects’ with which the brain comes in contact. And paradoxically, both fields are faced by an insoluble gap that exists between the ‘objective’ and rational apprehension of phenomena (i.e., facts gained through testable means) and a purely subjective experience of knowing (i.e., the subject as knower). On the one hand, from the standpoint of ‘objectivity’ (earnestly sought after in science, philosophy, or education), experience tends to be equated with the purely ‘subjective,’ which presents itself as problematic. Daniel Dennett (1991) asserts that consciousness as subjective experience possesses four properties that present an epistemological impasse, namely, (1) the ineffable, which cannot be communicated; (2) the intrinsic, which exists independent of any external facts; (3) the private, which has no interpersonal means of comparison; and (4) the directly apprehensible in consciousness, which is that one knows they are doing the knowing. Understandably, the purely subjective experience, which in philosophical circles is called qualia and describes the subjective quality of conscious experience, poses a considerable problem for those seeking a comprehensive knowledge of phenomena in light of the particulars that prove to be difficult to explain by facts of a scientific, social, or cultural nature. It is possible, for instance, to describe the experience of an entire community as perceiving the world only in hues of black and white, as Oliver Sacks (1996) recounted in his book entitled, The island of the color blind. Other facts may be added, such as the dimensions of culture that arise from this perceptual anomaly or the scientific facts with respect to perception itself. One may begin to use a range of metaphors and simulations to try to imagine what it would be like to live in a world without color, as Gary Ross’s 1998 film Pleasantville depicted. Yet this gap between fact and experience is ever present with no clear means to bridge the distance between knowing and being, or between core and extended consciousness. For the 20 educator and neuroscientist, there continues to be what Vygotsky (1962) called a dialectic leap that has yet to be bridged. By the same token, education, philosophy, psychology, and science paradoxically thrive on the endless peculiarities that draw one’s attention, while simultaneously seeking universal principles that fit across diverse populations. When scrutinized further, this paradox appears pricklier in light of social and cultural objects that are shared and communicated between humans who possess vastly different experiences. Few researchers would deny that the ‘objects’ we encounter in this world act on the brain’s development, save for those who are staunchly positioned as extreme ‘nativists’ and, hence, view human nature as determined by genetic or innate factors. Conversely, save for those who are extreme ‘social constructionists,’ few would deny innate factors also prevail on the brain’s development. New evidence in the neurosciences shows that innate factors are the only explanation for certain mental dispositions observed in pre-linguistic infants. This evidence has redefined what we believed to be pre-linguistic stages of reasoning, which were once explained in the past as arising solely from environmental factors over longer periods of maturation. Through cleverly designed studies, the belief that children’s value judgments and abstract reasoning arise by socialization has been subsequently challenged (Hamlin et al., 2007; Newman et al., 2008; vanMarle & Wynn, 2005; Wynn, 2008). That challenge is also being made to the causes of ‘mental illness’ or neurological disorders, such as disturbed body images (e.g., schizophrenia, phantom limb, anorexia, etc.). What was once believed to occur solely by virtue of traumatic experiences is being revisited through new studies. The example of the ‘phantom limb’ syndrome is a case in point. One would think logically that the ‘phantom’ feelings would have been derived by having once had a limb and, while no longer sending signals to the brain, appears to remain mysteriously ‘in the mind.’ 21 Yet neurologists have discovered that this same phenomenon exists among those born without limbs. Clearly, our ‘experience’ of possessing a body is in sharp contradiction with the network of neurons that are designated to receive bodily signals if persons born without limbs are able to ‘feel’ their limbs (Damasio, 1999). Thus, those who overlook what is universally present at one’s birth, i.e., innate to humans, as essential to the interactivity of brain-body-mind are also prone to ignore innate structures that interact relationally with social and cultural objects. The distinction between what we know to be ‘universal’ or ‘particular,’ the epistemological distance between knowing that is ‘experiential’ versus ‘theoretical’ compounds our confusion of determining ‘innate’ versus ‘learned’ factors. Knowledge that is just beginning to come to light ought to unite the research in science, arts, philosophy, psychology, and education. As it stands, however, there appear to be many educators who view educational matters, which focus is principally tied to the particular in social and cultural contexts, as incompatible with the neurosciences or any ‘reductive’ view that attempts to ‘generalize’ complex systems of learning (Varma, McCandliss & Shwartz, 2008). According to Varma et al., despite that the mind is of interest to both the educator and neuroscientist, what makes educational research at odds with neurological research is the strongly held view that, “neuroscience methods do not provide access to important educational considerations such as context; localizing different aspects of cognition to different brain networks does not inform educational practice” and “reductionism is inappropriate” (p. 141). Educators, of course, have made many assumptions regarding cognitive science, which began in psychology from whence developmental theory was drawn, particularly conceptualized by Piaget. Accordingly, Loris Malaguzzi (1993a), founder of the Reggio Emilia early childhood programs in Italy, put these assumptions into perspective. With a simple-minded greed, we educators have tried too often to extract from Piaget’s psychology things that he did not consider at all usable in education. He 22 would wonder what use teachers could possibly have for his theories of stages, conservation of matter, and so on. Now we can see clearly how Piaget’s constructivism isolates the child. As a result we look critically at these aspects: the undervaluation of the adult’s role in promoting cognitive development; the marginal attention to social interaction and to memory, as opposed to inference; the distance interposed between thought and language; the lock-step linearity of development in constructivism; the way that cognitive, affective, and moral development are treated as separate, parallel tracks; the overemphasis on structured stages, egocentrism, and classificatory skills; the lack of recognition for partial competencies; the overwhelming importance given to logicomathematical thought; and the overuse of paradigms from the biological and physical sciences (p. 76). Those educators who have ‘overused paradigms from the biological and physical sciences’ have subsequently underestimated the contributions of neuroscience. Literature dating back to the nineteenth century illustrates that the cognitive sciences have drawn many insights from the neurosciences (Luria, 1972, 1976, 1982; Sacks, 1971, 1973; Vygotsky, 1962). Additionally, the notion that cognitive science contextualizes educational concerns while neuroscience is far removed from educational contexts is illusory. Malaguzzi (1993b) is clear on this point when he stated, “Piaget warned us that a decision must be made about whether to teach schemes and structures directly or to present the child with rich problem-solving situations in which the active child learns from them in the course of exploration. The objective of education is to increase possibilities for the child to invent and discover. Words should not be used as a shortcut to knowledge” (p. 77). What is apparent is that social science research, upon which a vast number of educational theories have come to rely, has generally held the view that experimentation removed from classroom contexts is not as reliable as direct observation in field studies. Finally, the view that neuroscience practices reductionism is an unfortunate image that is wide spread among educators, which most often is directed at all scientific endeavors. A categorical dismissal of ‘reductive’ logic ignores the medical, scientific, and technological advances that have been made 23 precisely because of our ability to examine the smallest parts from the whole and relate the parts to the whole. Abstract thinking, which reduces the whole to its component parts, has largely been responsible for much of human invention. Siegfried Kracauer (1960) spoke of a “relativistic reduction” in relation to the kind of theories that have risen from the social sciences and of postmodern philosophies. As he noted, the differences between one kind of reduction and another are simple a matter of degrees between them. Along with progressive social mobility, the large scale flow of information, so greatly facilitated by the media of mass communications, makes people realize that everything can be viewed from more than one angle and that theirs is not the only way of life which has a title to recognition (p. 293). The confusion as to what constitutes reduction from a theoretical standpoint in the social sciences is readily apparent. When one reads accounts regarding new theories in communication studies, for instance, the fundamental apprehension of what either the terms abstraction or theory seems lacking. Henry Jenkins (1999) states, “In general, the need to create theory one can use, the merger of humanities and engineering approaches, is producing a different style of scholarship from the more abstract theories that have dominated media studies in recent decades” (p. 241). The idea that the concept of theory can be modified by the adjective “abstract,” demonstrates a lack of precision in thinking. In any case, I could easily attribute the interest I suddenly acquired to bringing film arts into the classroom as arriving purely by cultural and social influences, the kind articulated by countless social science theorists. I could dismiss innate and universal contributions to my early attention to moving images or the manner in which my working memory was of importance to interpreting images in general. I could postulate that the birth of those experiences was solely rooted in my family’s passion for the cinema. And that it was this passion, which had effectively 24 provided the ground for feelings of deep respect and admiration, perhaps even obsession, for moving images at an early age. But that is not the direction I will choose in the present thesis. Certainly neuroscientist Antonio Damasio (1999) was clear in stating with respect to inducers of emotion, “regardless of the degree of biological presetting of the emotional machinery, development and culture have much to say regarding the final product” (p. 57). The cinema had been my family’s first and most important portal to North American culture and the English language upon immigrating to the Canadian West. And in effect, I am able to provide historical precedents for laying the foundation of a purely socio-cultural phenomenon that impacted my subjective, emotional viewpoint toward the cinema. Again Damasio clearly points out that these socio-cultural phenomena shape “what constitutes an adequate inducer of a given emotion” along with “aspects of the expression of emotion” and, finally, “the cognition and behavior which follows the deployment of emotion” (p. 57). Prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, while France had a reputable and prodigious cinematic tradition of its own, the ban of American films during the war years left the French with nothing more than war propaganda films. Left also with the poorly made Hollywood imitations from Germany, there were a mere few hundred German approved French films. All such cinematic constraints had left a gaping cultural need. Needless to say, five years of restriction meant that the French appetite for film was primed for new images. Not able to compete with the release of hundreds of Hollywood films during the post-war years, the American cinema turned into a fevered pastime across the nation, not the least of which had affected my mother. By the time my parents had made the decision to emigrate, possibly influenced by so many images, my brothers and I had developed our palate for American images, not the least of which was due to private screenings of Hollywood films that my grandfather had obtained. 25 In terms of style and form, Hollywood films contrasted sharply with the French New Wave cinema that had risen in the wake of political and social upheaval in a post-war Europe— those ‘foreign’ films I was only able to discover as a young adult. During this period of regrowth, a critical division arose between those whose concern with the political standpoint of film came to view the cinema as commercially-produced studio entertainment and those whose belief in the “camera as pen” came to view film as an auteur art. The latter staunchly defended the director’s artistic vision as it was first articulated by Andre Bazin and Alexandre Astruc, encouraged through Henri Langlois’ Cinemateque Française, and later articulated in the Cahiers du Cinema by the wave of new cinephiles. As the exuberant young critics ventured into filmmaking, their productions attempted to counter film’s classic forms and manifestly shun the typical Hollywood formula. Avant-garde films by François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Éric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, and Jacques Rivette, however, were certainly not the kind of movies my parents found acceptable for children. Despite that my mother was a true cinephile in every sense, her strict Catholic upbringing found the ‘grotesque’ realism and confusing narrative highly objectionable and contrary to her core values. Additionally, my mother had been raised on classic cinema and after five years of wartime privation and degradation, nothing in the New Wave corresponded with her intense need to dream of ‘better living.’ Since Disney films, alongside the Western, Comedy, Suspense, Epic, or Musical fit within classic cinema, having then settled in Canada, my parents encouraged our weekly movie attendance. This often meant watching as many as three to four films per week, including at least one evening spent as a family bundled up in the car to watch double-billed movies at the local Drive-In. As a family, we were relentless in our pursuit of acquiring the language, values, and culture of our adopted nation. While the films we watched were predominantly made by 26 Hollywood, we were undisturbed by differences that may have existed between the two nations. A distinction was surely present, which we began to note as an economic and political gap. But in the end, that distinction did not deter us from our cultural and linguistic mission for, in any case, it seemed to us that the films closely paralleled the culture, values, and language of life in the Alberta prairies. At a young age, I was not conscious of the complexity involved in grasping the ‘foreign’ films that, naturally enough, were shown without subtitles once we were in Canada. Many years later, however, I made a rather startling discovery regarding the complexity of filmic ‘language’ while living abroad in Costa Rica and learning to speak Spanish as an adult. Although I will return to this discovery in more detail later in the present thesis, suffice it to say that of all the contexts in which I found myself attentive to native Spanish speakers—many in which I was proficient in understanding, including conversations, newspapers, magazines, books, television shows, and radio broadcasts—it was only in the context of films that the Spanish language eluded me entirely. Yet, an inability to apprehend the dialogue did not apparently diminish my interest in the films I watched. I was led to the thought that the ‘wordless’ narratives of those early film-going years remain so vivid in my mind, as a child I was seemingly able to interpret the images sufficiently to create meaning for myself. Without question, this disparity between then and now has led me to wonder how my brain interpreted the images that flooded my visual and aural senses. What exactly was interpreted through the cinematic image and how did this interpretation come about? As this passion for the cinema grew, I pursued ‘artistic’ experiences throughout my childhood and adolescence by engaging in movement and narrative arts. With great pleasure, I devoted long hours to the study of dance, music, speech and theatre arts. While all of those activities may be viewed in terms of what Susanne Langer (1953) expressed as “swallowed up” 27 by film arts (p. 412), the corollary between movement and images did not reach understanding until many years later. In fact, this corollary did not become apparent even during my next foray into the cinema, which was largely theoretical and undertaken as a first year undergraduate enrolled in a program of Theatre and Cinematic Arts. Therein rests the distinction between theory and practice, it took many more years of practice as an artist to make any real sense of the theory. Of the many film and theatre courses I was enrolled in, one entailed the viewing and critiquing of a series of classic and experimental films produced in the first half of cinematic history. Naturally enough, those images made an indelible impression and our discussions in class also heightened my pleasure of watching ‘experimental’ and ‘foreign’ movies. The carefully selected films from countries around the world, written and directed by pioneering film artists, formed the premise of our philosophical discussions and essays. I recall feeling very worldly and smart, especially when the films were in French—which always invited deeper discussions that went beyond the subtitles and visual images. Additionally, that experience proved useful several years later in my bid for a regular FM radio spot as a film critic. In those days, I gratefully used my radio press pass three to four times a week to attend feature films without having to purchase a box office ticket. In the darkened theatre, I would blindly scribble down notes, which I would then write up as a review in the form of a radio script. The ‘script’ allowed me to express my point of view in an intelligent manner while maintaining a conversational tone that appeared ‘ad lib.’ I was rather pleased that all those years of studying speech arts, watching movies, and thinking analytically on popular matters was providing a pleasurable and heady hobby (if not a future career). Fortunately, my pathway took a different turn in light of the ‘impractical’ nature of being a ‘film critic’ at a time when movie critics, such as, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, were 28 popularizing film criticism. Recently graduated with a degree in Dance Education, I sensibly pursued further studies in the field of education that still favored my artistic interests, all the while still engaged in personal artistic and film outlets. Hence, upon graduating with my second degree, having stepped into the classroom first as a kindergarten and elementary arts educator with a focus in music, then a secondary language, technology, and music educator, it was practically inevitable that I would take up several more film-based ventures. The first was producing and hosting a television talk show on a Calgary local cable network (1992-94), and the other was joining the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers. While the former gave me a whole new perspective on the production of the television image and its multi-camera form, the latter allowed me to explore my own filmmaking interests as a director and editor, along with my acting interests, which led to being cast as lead and principal actor on several Canadian Feature films (i.e., The Unspoken, 1995; Tearful, Fearful, 1996). Both experiences inspired me to bring filmic experiences into the classroom to develop skills in storytelling, as well as learning to manipulate visual and sound images and symbols—all of which I reasoned were legitimate ‘educational’ ventures. Clearly, I was socialized into a filmic context from a very early age. But what was it that solicited my attention toward moving images? Was it merely the passion of learning a new language, exposure to filmic works, the study and further pursuits of music, dance, and drama? Or was there something about moving images or images, for that matter, that primes what is uniquely human in quality and capacity? Today, I have become keenly aware of the role that movement—weight, flow, time, and space—plays in the manner in which my brain senses the world, interprets the stimuli, and reacts to sensory images. In so doing, I have become keenly aware of the importance of the movement arts across all domains of thought. It is also clear that 29 the manner whereby images are expressed in space and time through harmonized processes of memory, attention, and emotion, are necessary for the rise of an autobiographical self. According to Damasio (1999), it is without question that “memory, intelligent inferences, and language are critical to the generation of an autobiographical self and the process of extended consciousness” (p. 18). As part of higher order cognition, the autobiographical self is linked traditionally to the “idea of identity and corresponds to a nontransient collection of unique facts and ways of being which characterize a person” (p. 17). An autobiographical self, as anyone who is close to someone who suffers from a mental illness will attest, is fundamental to one’s sense of wellbeing. The overwhelming evidence in the neurosciences, as well as in my own personal life, leads me to believe that our primary goal as educators is to understand and utilize every means available that help foster a healthy autobiographical self, which is also the seat of consciousness. Nonetheless, it is not in higher order cognition wherein core consciousness and the emergent sense of the core self is found. Rather the core self, which is a “transient entity, ceaselessly recreated for each and every object with which the brain interacts” (Damasio, 1999, p. 17) begins with the “unvarnished sense of our individual organism in the act of knowing” (p. 125). Core consciousness, which is not unique to humans alone, “provides the organism with a sense of self about one moment—now—and about one place—here. The scope of core consciousness is the here and now” (p. 16). Time, space, and movement are critical to core consciousness or the sense of the core self, which in turn is critical to the emergence of both the autobiographical self and the processes of extended consciousness. Extended consciousness wholly depends on images and feelings as they arise over time, space and movement, which could never be arrived at without core consciousness or the innate, universal emotions (Damasio, 1999). 30 As increasing numbers of scientists, social scientists, and philosophers seek to understand consciousness, many in the neurosciences are finding evidence of a complex brain-body-mind connection, whereby the autobiographical self, which emerges from core consciousness, necessarily does so because of the somatic-sensory images (e.g., visual, auditory, olfactory, neural, visceral, etc.) attended to in the mind and stored in memory. While core consciousness “is separable from other cognitive processes,” nevertheless it exercises considerable “influence” on cognition. Remove all image-making capabilities and consciousness would be effectively abolished “because consciousness operates on images” (Damasio, 1999, p. 123). From this viewpoint, we may wonder how we “have a sense of self in the act of knowing” (p. 168). Damasio expounds further by submitting the following hypothesis. Core consciousness occurs when the brain’s representation devices generate an imaged, nonverbal account of how the organism’s own state is affected by the organism’s processing of an object, and when this process enhances the image of the causative object, thus placing it saliently in a spatial and temporal context. The hypothesis outlines two component mechanisms: the generation of the imaged nonverbal account of the object-organism relationship—which is the source of the sense of self in the act of knowing—and the enhancement of the images of an object (p. 169). This framework would thus place my engagement in the movement arts, richly endowed with images, as having been instrumental in developing an autobiographical self, which in turn was key to gaining deeper insight into notions of what is an image. Clearly, the study herein, which relies heavily on the subjective and experiential, faces scholarly refutation on the basis that any personal insight will remain particular, and lacking repeated trials, must therefore remain unconfirmed. Yet, as the widely respected neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran (2006) claimed during an interview with Roger Bingham on The science studio, both the subjective and experiential is critical to understanding the brain-mind-body problem. Moreover, the ‘n’ of one, that is to say the analysis of ‘data’ arising from a single case, even that of an ‘autobiographical’ 31 case, is inevitable in light of perplexing phenomena that have yet to be studied under repeated trials. Hence, to further understand what constitutes an image and its role in the brain-mindbody complex, it has been through the subsequent application of what I learned while teaching in a classroom context whereby I gained important insights. Moreover, as the ground of classroom experimentation, my own continued endeavors in filmic activities, juxtaposed with the study of science, philosophy, cognitive linguistics, cultural and film theories, to name a few, became part of the equation to arrive at the sum of knowledge regarding moving images. That is to say, the knowledge of what constitutes an image ran parallel to my experiences both in and out of the classroom, and thus became possible to theorize. Any further confirmation would naturally depend on continued studies. Notwithstanding, I am buoyed by the startling fact that scientific discoveries have often been historically reliant on the ‘n’ of one, namely a single case, including that which is autobiographical (Ramachandran, 2006). In sum, my desire for consonance with subjectivity, pedagogy, and theory sent me in search of a resonant idea. This is not to say that I ventured inductively from the particular to the general, rather that the particular was analyzed by searching a wide body of knowledge and overlaying models of inferences that appeared to fit observations. The idea I was most interested in was one that would resound with my autobiography, which is a body of evidence derived from processes and products (i.e., events and objects). This resonant idea had to be empirically anchored and theoretically balanced on the issue of both human nature and nurture relative to knowledge; to emotion, perception, and cognition; and to symbol systems, such as language, film and music. Alarmingly at first, as I examined the branches of knowledge on my way through the forest of disciplines that dotted the landscape filled with notions on film, music, language, 32 technology, and literacy education, I became overwhelmed by the tangle of competing theories. It was disconcerting that my experiences as an artist, educator, and researcher found no theoretical agreement between the social sciences, sciences, and arts, despite that I could sense this congruency, this harmony, in myself. For that matter, despite a metaphoric alliance and obvious connection between artistic modalities, there was little cohesion between the arts, which also perturbed my sense of unity as a multi-disciplinary artist. It was of great relief, therefore, to eventually come upon a body of knowledge that does not privilege nature or nurture, which resonates with my experiences and holds great potential for building a foundational rapport between all the areas so frequently kept separate by specialization. While there remain many unsolved riddles with respect to the nature of being human, the scientific studies that have led to hypothesizing on the brain-body-mind problem have afforded me a new perspective into my artistic and educational concerns. Embarking on this journey of knowledge and understanding, therefore, I have posed the following research questions. 1. How do contemporary theories in film and literacy inform an arts-based researcher in education? 2. What further insight is drawn from studies in the cognitive, social, and neurosciences? 3. How can the knowledge gained from the preceding exploration in research questions one and two, enhance our understanding of arts and literacy so that change is positively affected in classroom pedagogy? 33 CHAPTER TWO Consciousness begins when brains acquire the power, the simple power I must add, of telling a story without words, the story that there is a life ticking away in an organism, and that the states of the living organism, within body bounds, are continuously being altered by encounters with objects or events in its environment, or, for that matter, by thoughts and by internal adjustments of the life process. Consciousness emerges when this primordial story—the story of an object causally changing the state of the body—can be told using universal nonverbal vocabulary of body signals (Damasio, 1999, p. 31). Situating the purpose, research questions, and concerns It was near the end of a hot dry summer in the mid nineteen-nineties when I had discovered that schools are wonderful repositories for historical artifacts. With just a few days before the commencement of another year of creative arts projects in a small elementary school in Calgary, I had been rooting around in neglected storage spaces looking for a reel-to-reel film projector and audio deck. There were several notions I had hoped to put into action. First, having in my possession several film and audio reels, I wanted to give the students an opportunity to play with and compare analogue technologies, which were near relics, with the latest image and sound digital technologies. My purpose was meant to shed light on the relationship between the medium and the message. Before embarking on a series of projects involving new technologies, I felt I needed to connect media between then and now, demonstrating continuity between creative expressions through the use of technologies. In other words, I favored Marshall McLuhan’s view (1963) that technologies are extensions of mental processes. In other words, their relational position with the brain-mind-body meant that all media depend on human actions dependent on mental processes. I wanted to begin with something visibly transformed, yet familiar in its ‘objective’ (i.e., to produce images and sound). Within the range of ‘objects’ used by artists to create visual and sound images, I had wanted to draw out the relationship between artist and object, e.g., musician and instrument, filmmaker and camera, dancer and body, etc. Without fully being able to 34 articulate my plan, looking back, it is clear that my overall objective was to observe what Damasio (1999) deemed as the “unified mental pattern that brings together the object and the self” (p. 11). Second, I wanted to explore the constructivist frameworks our school had been promoting beyond what I had done the previous year. From a pragmatic viewpoint conceived by John Dewey (1958), constructivism was viewed in our school as a student-centered, selfdiscovery, and direct-experience approach. While constructivism has often been associated with social-constructivism insofar as most experiences take place in a ‘social’ sphere, we were principally interested in the cognitive construction of meaning. We were convinced that we could isolate the ‘object’ and individual from social factors in order to gain a conceptual view of the acquisition of knowledge and skills. The year before, I had borrowed the idea of building ‘atelier-based’ centers of learning, which are the hallmark of the Reggio Emilia schools in Italy. Founded by Loris Malaguzzi, Reggio Emilia schools practice constructivist and transformative learning (Edwards, Gandini, & Forman, 1993). Not easy to define or explain fully, those terms were in process of being unpacked in our school through dialogue and practice, such as the outcome of a successfully implemented series of ‘ateliers’ for children aged 6 to 12. The ateliers were in-class activities that were partly self-directed and partly apprenticed. They included, to name a few: painting and sculpting; performance and composition in music, dance, and drama; animation and creative writing; theatre construction; and puppetry. The activities ranged from ‘low tech’ (e.g., pop up books, dramatic sketches, and dioramas) to ‘high tech’ (e.g., video stop action and digital animation through the use of hypertext programs). Examples of the animation programs included, Hypercard Studio and turtle vector graphics, i.e., LOGO, originally designed by Seymour Papert (1980). 35 Officially as the school music teacher, I was kept busy with school concerts, assemblies, and performances for the first half of the year. Nonetheless, I was part of a school that valued creative means for “building learner capacity, knowledge, relationships, and community,” which defined our school mission statement. As the school was filled with gifted children, knowledgeable teachers, and professional parents ranging from sciences to arts, I had envisioned the ateliers as the ideal ‘living’ laboratory for observing an ensemble of artistic and intellectual practices operating on multiple levels of abilities and interests. The ateliers were successful and although I was able to document much of the process, I was far from understanding how to analyze the disparate ‘data,’ much less synthesize the work that had transpired. For as Alfred North Whitehead (1938) expressed, “We experience more than we can analyze. For we experience the universe, and we analyze in our consciousness a minute selection of its details” (p. 121). Nonetheless, the ‘laboratory’ laid the foundation for another project that appeared to me to hold a more ‘unifying’ objective among participants, namely, the art of film production. Teaching film arts in the classroom was not unfamiliar to me, as I had previously introduced a documentary film module to inner-city youth in a middle school. In large part due to being an active member of The Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF) and the age of my students, I had been able to borrow sophisticated equipment from the generous support of CSIF for a short lapse of time. The situation differed at University Elementary School (renamed University School in 2007). The school had purchased sufficient equipment for getting a ‘film’ project off the ground. This included: three S-VHS cameras and tripods, a bank of Macintosh computers with arts-based software programs (Avid Cinema and Adobe Premier), a piano synthesizer that connected via MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) and computer music software, along with the latest in digital photography. With the school so equipped, it was plain that I had ample technologies to engage upper elementary students between the ages of 9 36 and 12. Having already managed such a complex multidisciplinary setup the previous year, I could already envision grouping the children into film teams that would allow me to address differences in learning by staggering the stages of activities. This was because filmmaking naturally lends itself to multi-stage learning due to the interdisciplinary and independent needs of production. Importantly, we plunged into a ‘new knowledge economy’ implementing all of the latest technologies with our school’s entry into virtual learning (i.e., the Internet), following Tim Berners-Lee’s invention of HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol), HTML (hypertext mark-up language) and WWW (World Wide Web). To situate the school in this new economy further, the new project I had envisioned came merely two years after the development of some major online innovations. For instance, in 1995 web pages were dynamically represented with font, type, and layout styles (i.e., CSS or cascading style sheets), which included graphics and icons. The web design language HTML 2.0, as it was called, merged with photo protocols set out by the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), which being part of the ISO (International Standards Organization) enabled photographs to be imbedded into web pages. The upshot of all those changes to the Internet was that web pages could now support full-blown JPEG images. This new event had us staring with delight and anticipation at the computer screen as colorful photographic images slowly crept into view. It gave us the feeling of watching an image emerge from its chemical bath or Polaroid sensitive paper as the image arose from blurred pixilated squares to a focused and clear representation, which seemed to ‘materialize’ from a ghostly realm into the tangible. The new digital photographic images were more colorful and ‘sophisticated’ in imagery than the ‘geometric’ vector graphics inherent of computer programs to date. Moreover, the photographs could also be printed (albeit with poorer quality than when printed from film negatives due to the low quality printers and papers), which 37 made the whole set-up seem like a veritable ‘do-it-yourself’ photo print shop. Despite that we still did not possess digital video cameras, the change that most affected us was the fact that moving images could be transferred from analogue to digital and back again. We were also on our way to ‘do-it-yourself’ film production and distribution. A deeper look into the school’s philosophy and the questions it raised The administration and teaching staff at University (Elementary) School were part of a historical visionary educational project (the school having been inaugurated in 1968 as a ‘laboratory’ of learning for pre-service teachers and postgraduate researchers). For this reason, most of the teachers were in possession of a postgraduate degree and actively involved in research. The driving philosophies of our school were mostly gleaned from learning theories in the cognitive sciences, such as the stage theories of Piaget, multiple intelligence theory from the work of Howard Gardner (1983), but also postmodern curriculum theories as proposed by William Doll (1993). By and large, these theories were rooted in the cognitive and aimed toward pushing intellectual boundaries. The only theories I recall that were missing from our staff discussions were social and cultural theories, e.g., critical theory, gender and feminist theories, etc. Thus, curriculum and pedagogy was made up of a system of complex concepts arising from the latest findings in educational research. The practical realization of some of the theoretical frameworks included multi-aged groupings, i.e., placing students in family groupings combining three grades into one class; team teaching; creative arts applications across multiple subject areas; and collaborative, negotiated, and generative curriculum. The latter invited students and parents to participate in curriculum development through large town hall meetings. There was also a focus on what we believed to be transformative learning, which included many concepts drawn from postmodern curriculum theory (Doll, 1989; Pinar, 1995), some of which 38 had been gleaned from mathematics and physics, such as theories of chaos and complexity. In addition, our administrators brought forward studies in brain research that gave us a ‘picture’ of the mental operations of the cerebral cortices, i.e., ‘higher order thinking.’ In essence, the school was awash in some of the most current educational theories in an established laboratory setting that looked principally at cognition. In preparation for the six-month unit of study, therefore, I was eager to test some of the many theories that drove our discussions. With transformative and constructivist learning in mind, the objective was first to explore and play with the new technologies, to view and critique many video images, to deliberate on varied film techniques and then to create short narratives that explored a topic students were studying in other subject areas. With a dedicated view of cognitive sciences, the teaching staff placed a strong focus on the conceptual and high-order thinking (i.e., the analytical, synthetic and evaluative). General concepts, we euphemistically called ‘big ideas,’ were viewed as ‘mind-expanding’ tools that allowed one to build intellectual capacity because of the factor of connectivity with diverse notions, topics, subjects, and ideas. The transformational learning would come through multi-disciplinary activities infused with creative applications that brought individual and ‘objects’ into close encounters. By bringing universal concepts and particular ‘objects’ together, we hypothesized that learners would bridge knowledge and skills that would bring rational meaning to the whole. By rational I am referring solely to conceptual processes because nowhere in our discussions did we center on emotional and social aspects directly. Instead, the two were viewed as ‘by-products’ of a richly endowed intellectual environment with ‘social’ frameworks. Naturally, the ‘missing’ discourse prevented us from probing deeper into socio-cultural or emotional aspects on the whole. Notwithstanding, given some of the deep emotionally laden conflicts that arose between staff members and also between staff members and parents in relation to the implementation of 39 some approaches, the question was raised whether it was sufficient to focus entirely on cognitive development. The concerns that were heatedly expressed inevitably forced me to ponder on such matters. A surprising find: The puzzling field of film literacy After some time rummaging in the school’s storage spaces, I finally found a 16mm reelto-reel film projector and, to my surprise, a box of old newspaper clippings, several 35mm film reels, and a folder of teacher notes. The yellowed clippings were from the mid-seventies and informed me that a teacher had once boldly introduced our school to cinematic arts. I was impressed, to say the least. While I had found a hobby out of making short films with a Super 8 camera or video whenever summer rolled around, 35mm film projects seemed that much more sophisticated (not to mention expensive to operate, purchase, and print). Moreover, one of the articles applauded the educational initiative taken to introduce Alberta students to a new film curriculum, joining the active British Columbia school districts. It was not surprising that BC had already launched a film curriculum in schools since it was third in line as film Mecca in the Canadian film industry (behind Ontario and Quebec). Encouraged by the teacher’s mention of several useful filmmaking books (including several from BC), I was fortunate to track these down in our school library, where they had been tucked away under communication arts. The books gave a general overview of filmmaking and, in themselves, were historically interestingly. Mostly, they contained the techniques and approaches to filming, lighting, editing, and sound, as well as photographic settings, film handling, printing, and projection, not unlike the commercial and highly technical step-by-step video production books then in current use. As the latter texts would become (now having been updated to accommodate ‘digital’ video production and projection), the former technical concepts outlined in the film texts were generally outmoded by our latest technologies—as were the ‘teaching’ approaches that 40 accompanied the concepts and techniques. In truth, they were not manuals or even textbooks so much as dictionaries filled with terms and definitions. Several books were of particular interest as these were written for children and contained a few photographic principles that had been a staple throughout cinematic history—and likely to remain (Listone & McIntosh, 1970; Lowndes, 1968). Such things as camera angles, panning and zooming, lighting for mood, and other types of common film elements were explained with illustrations. Sound engineering also had a role, which was useful to me since I wished to continue activities using MIDI in my music classroom. Naturally enough, like most instructional texts on the arts (as Aristotle famously showed), the children’s books were focused on the technical and practical, giving little notion of the poetics of film arts. Heartened by the fact that there was some mention of the artistic connections to traditional art expressions the children already had experienced, especially photography, I seized the opportunity for designing integrated learning. Connections to traditional forms of expression were of particular significance to me, first because it fit with our school mission statement: collaborative learning that is interconnected, interdependent and generative. But more importantly, as a multi-disciplinary artist, the framework fit with my personal experiences in the arts. Finally, some books mentioned the “above-the-line” specialties in film—actor, director, photographer, and editor—which glamour inevitably outweighed the “below-the-line” specialties (such as, lighting and sound engineers, set design and decorators, costumers, continuity person, script manager, etc.). I remember feeling that this view tends to skew filmmaking as the providence of a talented few rather than the intentioned, thoughtful efforts of many. In this sense, I was prepared to broaden the bias toward ‘artistry’ in general. Not only would filmmaking exemplify collaborative work, but also demonstrate the capacity to bring together a shared 41 vision, diverse abilities, and purpose in a community of teaching and learning. Moreover, tucked in the back of my mind, I had retained the notion that filmmaking was an auteur art (not unlike creative writing). This notion was based more on my filmmaking experiences than film theories that would later cross my path. In the majority of instances, since the films I had produced I had also written, directed and edited, I was biased toward seeing myself as having authored the works. Despite the limitations of the teaching aids and scant notes that accompanied the film texts, I was humbled to learn that my “innovative” filmmaking venture (as it was later acknowledged by the Canadian Teacher’s Federation) had an enterprising teacher pioneer design a unit of film study some twenty years before me in the same space. I remember thinking, “What coincidence! Could he have been a kindred spirit?” I also remember thinking how enjoyable it would be to interview him, or any students, now adults, to cull their memory of such a unique experience. Undertaking my film project had appeared to me as a new way of learning, of seeing the world, of generating and constructing one’s own knowledge, of understanding self and the world. I realized, however, that those images had simply come full circle some twenty years later. I also realized that this intrepid teacher and his students had felt the spark of creativity not unlike the “Langley Schools Music Project” (1976-77). I imagined that those educators viewed their projects as giving birth to a new curriculum and pedagogy. Though I was unable to locate him, his phantom presence prodded my nascent film curriculum. What I have slowly come to understand fifteen years later is that phantoms had been haunting our school long before the twenty-year gap between our two units of study began. Some of those phantoms had been partly responsible for a short-lived film curriculum that had been introduced in our school, despite that the news article had lauded it as being a step toward a ‘new literacy.’ This idea of a new literacy (though I was not clear what that meant precisely) was my 42 general intent toward constructing such a project in the first place. Naturally, I was surprised to see that between then and now, its presence had vanished for such a long period of time. For a brief instant, that vanishing made me hesitate. As an artist, tucked in the back of my mind lived the notion of ‘legacy.’ A sense that what we as artists do will leave a lasting footprint on culture and society, not necessarily out of a sense of achieving ‘immortality’ (even if this factors for many) but out of a sense of causing an ‘evolution’ of thought that would shift society ever closer to ‘higher consciousness.’ Generally speaking, it is safe to say that all educators think of their work as a form of legacy to the next generation. And as an arts educator, therefore, my notion of ‘legacy’ was founded in the ‘transformational’ outcome of learning in and through the arts. I held firmly to the feeling that arts education as a form of ‘literacy education’ was an emancipation project, which I had interpreted as a means of knowing acquired so thoroughly as to be a way of knowing that would allow one to counter ‘dominant’ voices in whatever form they arose. For me, the arts were another kind of ‘language’ that certainly required an ability to ‘decode’ and ‘encode’ artistic works (i.e., knowledge and skills). By its thorough learning and application, the arts gave one the liberty to choose a way of thought or action no less than by the written language. This view of arts education was heavily influenced by my discovery of the philosophical writings of Elliot Eisner (1997), Maxine Green (1995), and Langer (1942). But their philosophical views on arts education would not have resonated quite as strongly if I had not been struck from an early age with literature that impacted on my understanding of social justice, such as the writing of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and works by Dickens, Dostoevsky, Molière, Soljenitsin, Steinbeck and Shakespeare. In addition to literature, I was also drawn to artists who had pioneered an art form in an act directed against the tyranny of social or academic views, such as Beethoven, Isadora Duncan (pioneer of American modern dance), Charles Chaplin, and 43 Stanislavski. It is difficult to pinpoint where my feelings toward the arts as an artist and arts educator began and ended as the two were embroiled in a common sentiment. I was thus faced with a dilemma with respect to the ‘legacy’ I imagined could ensue from such a project. My experience in teaching music, drama, and dance in the schooling system had led me to sense that as far as ‘literacy’ was understood, it was drama that held a position of merit among language educators. It is not hard to understand this place of privilege since written and spoken language go hand in hand with classic theatre. And while ‘notation’ has held importance in music, this form of ‘literacy’ was easily confused with a mathematical symbol system, a subject that came second to language. Dance, of course, is the most ephemeral of the three since its form is ‘mute’ and without notation (save for the short-lived Laban notation, film has been the only means of preserving and archiving dance). For these reasons, I focused on creative drama to better articulate with notions of literacy being explored in schools. Hence, student projects tended toward combining drama and music or drama and dance. The fact that drama and language arts education were thoroughly entwined, as my own Canadian schooling experience told me, it seemed natural that drama was a pivotal art form for arts educators interested in issues of literacy. As far as I was concerned, film and drama were so closely affiliated through language that I saw no reason why film education would not become a subject as thoroughly entrenched as drama. Naturally, my thought was that I could ‘bootstrap’ music and dance as part of the ‘package’ of arts employed in film. But evidently that was not the case. With only a subjective experience as my means of measurement, I had no theoretical means by which to bring music and dance into the discourse on language and literacy education any more than film arts. Dance, music, or physical education, for all intents and purpose, were fleeting ‘movement-time’ arts, unable to match the conceptual sophistication of thought that comes from language itself in the 44 act of reading and writing. That said, film appeared to have all the elements of a ‘written text,’ and seemed the likeliest to enter the realm of the conceptual sophistication of thought. Why had film not reached this status in an educational setting? This nagging question seemed to bring up the worry of offering a subject that carried no lasting societal value. With a hollow feeling, arts education seemed to echo the fleeting, ephemeral traces of art processes that momentarily brightens the lives of the indifferent, the bored, or the down and out (i.e., art therapy). Worse still, following a backlash on the politicization of the arts as cultural transmitter or form of ‘critical pedagogy,’ many arts educators resorted to saying, “Enough! Let’s do arts for arts sake.” As sympathetic as I have been to art therapies or the cry of “arts for arts sake,” those avenues did not open the door to intellectual participation in a literacy movement that we all felt gaining momentum since the word “literacy” was first coined in 1883, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Having just crawled out from under Reagan’s educational “Back to Basics” policies, which affected us in Canada as much as in the United States, I longed for a new theoretical foundation of artistic experiences. To some, it would appear that the arts in education are of nature aesthetic, cultural, and social, operating wholly within a semiotic framework. As important as that framework may be to understand a part of the arts, a semiotic framework is said to operate at odds with cognitive and neuroscience theoretical frameworks (Petric, 2001). In the tension, therefore, between semiotics and cognitive science, we end up with an ongoing nature versus nurture argument that may not advance our understanding of the whole of arts, why we do art, or how the arts are equally important to language as “alternate forms of representation” (Eisner, 1997). For my own sense of self-worth, the answer to those questions was an imperative. My entire concept of self was wrapped up in a lifetime invested in the study of performing arts, which deeply connected to my 45 conceptual understandings of multiple subject areas, alongside agency and democracy. Any theoretical gap distanced the ‘importance of things felt’ from ‘the matter-of-fact.’ I had no desire to follow schools of thought in music or dance that tried to force a pre-de Saussurean semantic view of sound and movement that fit into a linguistic paradigm “concerned with the diachronic study of the signified” (Colin, 1995, p. 103). That is to say, the meaning of language was dependent entirely on temporal contexts. On the other hand, I was not quite ready to embrace de Saussurean semiotics either, i.e., language as a formal system independent of the temporal-spatial production and comprehension. No matter what my mental processes consisted of, I was not ready to accept that a mode or a gesture had conceptual and definitional meaning any more than a color or ink blot; neither was I ready to accept that sound and gesture are mere social signifiers that ‘point’ us toward meanings that are purely contextual. In search of more than socio-cultural meanings, it was natural to want to turn to cognitive sciences. Of course, the desire or need to tap into the cognitive aspect of the arts, flies directly into a wall of defense as an attack on the aesthetic or the ephemeral. As a dancer, I would be disingenuous if I pretended to dance to enrich my mind. I dance for joy and as far as I can tell, Whitehead (1938) was one of the rare philosophers who counted “joy” as having importance and an end onto itself. Joy is different from pleasure—I feel that too when I dance as I also feel my muscles aching and burning, which has often placed dancers, especially ballet dancers, in the strange realm of enjoying ‘pain’. Joy is a feeling of elation that lingers for many days or years without regret. If there were ever a perfectly good reason to exist, I believe it would be to feel joy. And as someone whose first object in life was to dance, it is possible that this lasting feeling of joy that I have felt my entire life when dancing (especially ballet) may have come partly as a result of the nature of movement and partly as a result of a fascination with movement. Now the question raised was: what is movement? 46 The fact remains that the arts have only tended toward explorations of aesthetic, cultural, psychological, sociological, pragmatic, and semiotic, whereby the arts are deconstructed through isolating their parts into single frames in order to render meaning from a rational viewpoint. That is to say, the whole is rarely taken into consideration particularly with regard to movement, which plays an essential role in film, dance, and music. The study of movement is complex due to the corollary of changes in time and space, which change necessitates a comprehension of forces (as motives and intent) and the ensuing effects. And although the study of society and culture also undertakes the study of historical movements, given our short life span, we are continuously reduced to looking at ‘moments in time and space.’ In a film context, analysis consists of looking at still frames rather than the psychic integrity of movement. There is absolutely nothing wrong with studying the arts as moments in time and space, just as there is nothing inherently wrong with studying the arts from rational frameworks. But it is clear that all such views are partial. To move toward a fuller understanding, the arts must be examined beyond rational theories and must include the study of emotions without solely relying on cognitive, social, and psychological theories that have tended toward ‘rational’ accounts of emotional phenomena (Damasio, 1999; Kivy, 1997; Plantinga & Smith, 1999; Smith, 2003). Essentially, in our preoccupations with mind, we had been primarily focused on the media that allow analyses and critical capacity (i.e., clarity of thought). Thus we had acknowledged the media of language, technology, and arts, but each with their own particular means. We were able to describe, define, categorize, order and identify systemic rules of varied media. We could compare the mind’s processes to machines and information processing (i.e., input, output, storage, and logic). Thus we are able to mechanize systems that are the ‘medium’ of thought, as easily as we have mechanized the system that is thought, as Descartes did so effortlessly. 47 But to understand the medium that is thought, not as machine but as an organism, which is also separate from language, technology and arts, is as difficult to tease away from the latter as it is to tease brain from body or body from mind. What was missing is what Whitehead (1938) eloquently expressed, “There is no such independent item in actuality as ‘mere concept.’ The concept is always clothed with emotion, that is to say, with hope or fear, or with hatred, or with eager aspiration, or with the pleasure of analysis” (p. 167). Poetry, of course, demands that we consider humans holistically and that we do not tease such things apart, as can be noted in the words of William Butler Yeats. Labour is blossoming or dancing where The body is not bruised to pleasure soul. Nor beauty born out of its own despair, Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil. O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer, Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole? O body swayed to music, O brightening glance, How can we know the dancer from the dance? Indeed, as a dancer I want to immerse, nay lose myself, in the emotional content of movement filled with joy, fear, anger, sadness, and surprise. It seems like a mean and picky thing to anyone with a deep devotion and sensitivity to aesthetics or to the emotional content of the arts, to try to tease apart the poetics of art from the artist. But herein are we at a loss as arts educators to explain what we know in body and soul. Yet, it seemed to me that to understand artistry, as a measure of both thought and emotion, clarity must be sought after. As I pondered semiotics, for instance, I wondered how one could speak of signification that is aesthetic, psychological, social, cultural, and pragmatic—all of which is attached to emotion—without giving some attention to the brain that is the medium that leads to thought or rather, as Damasio (1999) points out, to images. It could very well be that images, upon which we create meaning, are deeply connected to emotions, which meaning is ‘motion outward,’ in the same manner as language (Pinker, 2008). 48 Borrowing David Rodowick’s (2008) thoughts on the study of film and cinema, the movement arts (i.e., dance, film, music) have suffered from particular investigations as “a rather vulgar philosophical empiricism,” and whatever was gained, “in their signifying processes and in their social and historical contexts…lost a possible knowledge of a generalizable theory” (p. 388). Then again “in an effort to become more scientific, theory risks, sadly, becoming more conservative and reductionist” (p. 389). From the preceding perspective on film theory, it is difficult to not feel a win-loss polemic. But I did not believe that the root of the problem to understanding movement arts (especially film) was due to competing theories. I saw the root of the problem beginning with the limited manner in which movement arts are studied as still and lifeless structures, with parts possessing so many ‘signifiers’ that the whole could be thought to be understood solely by its parts. This class of signifiers, by Rodowick’s (2008) account, is a “codified system that nonetheless escapes notation” and are thus aligned with Metz’ description of film, namely, “an imaginary signifier.” Since on a philosophical level, the notation of any movement art is more or less ‘imaginary’ (including music), it is the “experience of the imaginary signifier [that] is something of a psychological constant” (p. 389). Put another way, the movement arts (which include spoken word) are thought to differ from written language by virtue of their ‘ephemeral’ qualities and must be experienced to be known, that is to say experienced in time and space to be felt as ‘real.’ It is the quality of ‘utterances’ as ‘images’ in sound, film, and dance forms, which we can speak of as qualia, a term philosophers use to describe the purely subjective experience of a thing (e.g., the redness of red). Confusingly, the arts also allow some codification and standardization that continually bumps up against the problem of knowing a priori solely by 49 notational or representational means. This is especially true of language, but is also true of all the arts. How does one explain a purely subjective experience to one who claims to know by means of rational thought? Short of finding a means to resolve this paradox, one has a feeling that a view of film as the ‘imaginary signifier’ suffers from a fullness of understanding of what constitutes an image, whether sound, visual, kinetic, haptic (i.e., touch), or visceral. However one chooses to understand what is an ‘image,’ we are also faced with the problem of understanding ‘representation,’ and ontologically speaking that ultimately leads us back to the problem of ’Reality.’ While many images drifted through my mind as I pondered film education, I could not help but sense the phantoms that haunted my elementary school—and more precisely haunt the halls of all institutions of learning. Their traces remain as the memories of those who lived and experienced, observed and thought, invented and experimented and, finally, wrote and immortalized. We appear haunted by so many images that arise by poetic means, yet most often immortalized by words. Artistic artifacts that remain (the film reel left behind by the teacher, which I was never able to view since I lacked a 35mm film projector) are mostly made ‘meaningful’ by the written word that ‘fills in’ what has gone missing (the time, the culture, the artist’s intent). Without words to accompany the presence of artistic artifacts, it is all too easy for those images to simply vanish from insight. Of course, one could say as much about literature. What would remain of literature without the endless written reviews, musings, and critiques? What of film, I wondered. Does it not also possess all the qualities of immortalizing ideas? Finally, why has education conflated all digital activity as the seat of learning in such a short historical period of time whereas film and arts education broadly speaking, despite their longevity, have not enjoyed such a seat at the table of educational basics? Why has educational research focused so 50 much attention on the one but not the other? The only way I could begin to unravel those mysteries was to take stock of education’s film history. Surveying the situation in education When surveying film in education, what became clear from the outset was the fact that there were complex histories of film research that emerged from diverse disciplines of thought. First, because of a lack of specialization in film curriculum and pedagogy, educational film research has periodically risen in domains with interest in language, literacy, communication, media, sociology, psychology and policy. This aspect of cross-disciplinary action in film educational research has blurred the boundaries of the study of film as a whole. In other words, there has been no central framework that would be considered the hub of research activity on film in schools of education (i.e., Faculties of Education). Second, independent of the schools of education, which focus has been principally directed toward public education at large, there exists a complex history of film studies within universities. Some of the research has been and continues to be centralized in Faculties of Film, and others are found under the broader umbrella of Liberal Arts or Communication Studies (the latter having the most influence in education). Film research, therefore, is as widely distributed across multi-disciplinary areas in the whole of universities as educational film research is distributed across faculties of education. Interestingly, there have been many more educational researchers who have embraced some of the field theories and methods established in the disciplines of film studies rather than the other way around. While it is possible there are some who have penetrated this barrier, I did not come across educational film theorists, cited or otherwise, within a large body of research situated solely in academic film journals. Third, both educational film research and contemporary film studies have drawn their theoretical and methodological frameworks from broader fields of study in philosophy, 51 linguistics, psychology, and sociology (Casetti, 1999). Thus it was clear from the start that a rather daunting task laid before me with respect to reviewing salient literature and drawing out a cogent critique that has impact within arts educational concerns. As the worlds of research unfolded like Russian nesting dolls, each one profoundly mirroring the other, the entire universe began to look like Charlie Kaufman’s 2008 film Synecdoche – a film that visually portrayed a small theatre, within a larger theatre, within the theatre of life. The film tried to render a view of chaos and complexity but its mirrored portraits is perhaps why it was not entirely successful among all critics. I discovered, however, a useful metaphor to help illustrate this chaotic and complex network of research activities. A pithy explanation of the emergence and evolution of the field of film scholarship by scholar Francesco Casetti (1999) has broad applications. From amateur interest to specialization to internationalization, Casetti’s description of film study from start to present is exceptionally useful to explain the emergence and evolution of any new field of study. Generally speaking, at the beginning of emergent fields of research, borrowing an idea from Bakhtin (1981), we find a “carnival” of people engaged in the discovery of new wonders after a point of rupture from an ‘ordered’ world “marking the entry into the field of a new paradigm,” (Casetti, 1999, p. 55). Furthermore, with respect to this cinematic ‘carnival,’ Casetti points out, “the debate about the new medium appeared to be open to anyone” (p. 8). True to form, a review of early film literature reveals that contributors to the ‘new’ field of film came from diverse backgrounds. From journalists to artists, from social critics to philosophers, psychologists, anthropologists and scientists, contributions to film ‘theory’ included such luminaries as Freud, Bergson, Adorno, Levinas, Merleau-Ponty, Barthes, Hugo Münsterberg, Rudolf Arnheim (who coined the term, 7th art), Béla Belázs (librettist for musician Zoltán Kodály), and Siegfried Kracauer (who worked alongside Walter Benjamin). 52 From those early strivings to explain film, one can begin to surmise what set off the ‘carnival’ of thought. The rupture of the ordered and ‘flawless’ transition between what was then and what is now, as McLuhan (1963, 1967) tried to explain, comes about when an artifact shifts from the ‘background’ to the ‘foreground’ of attention (e.g., motion photography). This change of focus renders a feeling of rupture in continuous space-time. When introduced into society, an ‘object’ or artifact that alters the flow of movement that has, up to that point, been sensed as a constant will inevitably dramatically alter the way people feel and think. This phenomenon is most often experienced in a music context. In the case of motion photography, a new ‘mirror’ on the world shifted the images that are were mere “movies-in-the brain,” as Damasio (1999) described the workings of the mind to a visibly external ‘reality.’ In other words, when moving ‘images’ past and present are split apart, largely due to the introduction of a new medium, a subjective sense of continuity is no longer sewed together seamlessly. As a phenomenon shifts from novelty to a cultural staple (in the case of cinema, widely accepted as an art form), “theory was no longer produced by private clubs, animated by enthusiastic amateurs, but research groups and pressure groups that became the meeting point of professionals working in the field…there were no longer only film schools, but universities” (p. 8). As the ‘products’ of innovation gain momentum, new governing agents begin to shape policies and economies. This rite of passage is apparent in the histories of arts and sciences in general. In the case of film arts, governing sectors evolved to oversee artists, production, and distribution of ‘goods and services’ (e.g., studio systems and national film boards). In film studies, those who gained theoretical authority included university film faculties, a few exceptional film centers of high repute, and various journals or film magazines that regularly published scholarly works. The political and economic developments involving film works, 53 while appearing tangential to the intellectual forces, are critical, yet often overlooked by those unfamiliar with the terrain. Although this particular aspect of film arts merits greater attention in light of the impact of political and economic forces on consumers, researchers, and the artists themselves, there is not enough space to provide a detailed account herein. At any rate, between widespread acceptance and the rite of passage from carnival to academy, there is a move toward specialization. Specialization, according to Casetti (1999), operates on “three different levels” (p. 8). First, there is the “separation between theoretical and ordinary language,” which, for the most part creates a necessary step between ‘amateur’ and ‘expert.’ Casetti elaborates that in film study, “We moved from a common lexicon, scarcely marked by any technical terms, to a real jargon, full of words that defy immediate decoding, at least some of which were borrowed from other fields” (p. 8). In the new scholarship of film study, lingo was necessary to distinguish the new discipline of “filmology,” according to Casetti, by “explicitly proposing a new vocabulary (filmofanic, profilmic, diegetic, etc.), just as semiotics and psychoanalysis would become exemplary in the 1960s and 1970s by tending toward private lexemes (syntamagtic, icon, suture, etc.)” (p. 9). As with any field (academic or otherwise), either in its initial stage of development or in its projects of renewal (which we also call ‘reforms’), a new lexicon is very nearly a rite of passage. As many who enter the field of education have discovered, learning educational jargon is the difficult first step in becoming a bona fide teacher or educational researcher. Next, there is “a separation between theory and criticism” (Casetti, 1999, p. 9). Between those who systematize and those who interpret and, rather than “a mutually enriching interchange that makes theory into a sort of conscience of criticism, we observe an increasing mutual indifference. The categories by one group do not rely immediately on the discourse by the other” (p. 9). In fact, this systemization was discussed at length in the works of Whitehead 54 (1938) in relation to philosophy, mathematics, and science. Thus, much as it has occurred throughout the history of intellectual works, the debate that ought to lead to a “conscience of criticism,” merely entreats a debacle emphasizing the distance between experts rather than the proximity of a “mutually enriching interchange” (Casetti, 1999, p. 9). And finally arrives the moment all practitioners, from one end of the knowledge spectrum to the other, are made sharply and painfully aware, “there is a separation between theory and practice” (p. 9). Whether in the fields of arts or education, the mutuality of practitioner-scholar disappears. Even arts based researchers are forced to disown the very art processes and products that led them to the academy in the first place (except when those are dressed up as scholarly). To use Casetti’s words in comparing film arts to pedagogical arts, “the critic” (i.e., scholar) is “both a mentor and a prophet,” while “the filmmaker” (i.e., practitioner) is “in the guise of a witness and explorer” (p. 9). And just as it is so often the case between teacher-practitioner and educator-scholar, “in their place appears a theatre of incommunicability in which the theorists dream” of an educational system (i.e., cinema) that “does not exist, and yet continues to be proposed,” while the practitioners (i.e., filmmakers) make the classrooms (i.e., films) they “want or are able to make, not paying much heed to the suggestions they are given” (p. 9). Making matters more complex, whereas prototypal forms created at a local level may be studied with confidence due to small and undiluted concentrations (feeling some control over the narrow ‘influences’), as soon as local forms are accepted and specialized, they enter international territories. In the 21st century, the speed of globalization (i.e., internationalization) has reached unprecedented velocities. Once internationalized, there is at a point of ‘saturation,’ when forms (old and new) become an indistinguishable blur as these begin to mingle, meld, blend, hybridize, merge, fuse, infuse, overlap, and mix. The study of subjects, be they music, film, education or otherwise, is open to a much, much larger field of specialized operation, which generally invites 55 analytical and scientific methods that bring order from chaos. Yet, with so many fields of study now blanketing the world, one begins to wonder, just how many particulars can a limited world ponder and generate? More precisely, how many particulars are needed to find a pattern of general understanding? As the preceding section demonstrates in its analogous and metaphoric description, one is able to survey the landscape due to dynamic images. In this case, it is the history of fields of knowledge (i.e., disciplines) that move from an ambiguity of practice (the amateur, the carnival) toward methods of description and explanation (the expert, the academy). Studies in cognitive science suggest that our linguistic faculty, which in addition to expressing events, action and states of being, saturates language with “implicit metaphors like events are objects and time is space,” which is linked to our conceptual faculty’s “ability to frame an event in alternative ways” (Pinker, 2007, p. 4, 6). So aside from depicting movements of history, Pinker also brings us face to face with a troubling question: “[If] language is supposed to give us a way to communicate who did what to whom, how can it ever do that if two people can look at the same event and make different assignments of the who, the what, and the whom?” (p. 52). Clearly my reading of Casetti’s historical account of film studies presented itself as analogous to the fields of knowledge and practice with which I have been engaged, not the least of which is arts education. The capacity that we have as human beings to look at events (or objects) in different frameworks demonstrates a “cognitive flexibility,” which according to Pinker, “is in many ways a blessing.” Nonetheless, Pinker also points out that “in figuring out how language works, it is something of a curse” (p. 52). The same ‘curse’ may be said of film arts. Professor James R. Elkin, from the College of Law at West Virginia University, who teaches a course on the interpretation and critique of ‘lawyer films’ posted on his course website, under a section on film theory, an essay by PhD candidate, Stephen Rowley (2008) entitled, Is 56 film theory bullshit? The essay starts by positing a dilemma frequently encountered with all beginning undergraduates critiquing films, namely, how to respond to those who view the ‘interpretation’ of films as a type of ‘free-for-all’ whereby films may be made to “mean anything.” In my view, the answer to this dilemma does not rest upon the curse of cognitive flexibility as Pinker (2007) eloquently describes. Rather the solution rests in examining the cause of cognitive flexibility. To know that we are capable of “flipping the frame,” as Pinker suggests, such as shifting from seeing the ‘old lady or young lady’ in this and other famous dualperceptual images, is one thing. To understand why we are able to flip the frame, why we are able to ‘see’ things in multiple perspectives, is another. To bring further insight into our human capacity for cognitive flexibility, therefore, one may begin with an account of historical events. In the retelling of such histories, a pattern emerges that points toward a human capacity not yet fully explained in cognitive and social sciences. In other words, the following, which traces the historical accounts of contemporary theories in film and literacy education, brings us closer to understanding the events and will demonstrate upon inspection that they are rife with contradictory theories. Motion pictures: The event that changed the world It would thus appear to have been seventy-five years after its invention that film production had veritably burst into school curriculum (Listone & McIntosh, 1970). Geller and Kula (1969), for instance, who cited a survey conducted by the American Film Institute (AFI), explained that “the incredible growth of film is seen not only on the university level” where it was “discovered that 5,300 students are now preparing for a career in film production, film scholarship, or film teaching” but also “within some 22,000 U.S. secondary and elementary 57 school systems” where “there is an increasing interest and activity centered on film that literally boggles the mind” (p. 98). To which the authors adjoin, “the stacks of mail arriving at AFI daily announcing new film programs and requesting film materials and recommendations lend additional proof, if any is needed, that film is in” (p. 98). Notwithstanding Geller & Kula’s exuberance, as English teacher Eleanor Child (1939) attested, it was as early as 1937 whereby an NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) survey showed that making films had become a means of “making school work more vital, practical, and appealing” (p. 706). And in her article, Child went on to explain the practicalities for beginning a production program in the school. Needless to say, discovering there had been pioneers involved in school film production as early as the 1930’s has not yet ceased to amaze me. Clearly, some forty years after film’s invention, a group of English teachers had been busily engaged in film production; another thirty-some years elapsed before there was a new wave of production initiated by arts educators and non-profit arts organizations, and an additional thirty-six years have gone by before film production would enjoy the ubiquitous, sweeping, and unprecedented position it holds today in schools and community projects worldwide. A mere one hundred and fifteen years since the introduction of film in society to allow the average individual to produce, publish and distribute a film worldwide—a feat that has outdone mass print technologies, which took over five-hundred years to accomplish! This historical perspective leaves much to ponder. Thus film production had found its way into North American schools as early as the 1930s in large part through the use of standard 8mm film cameras, which had just been invented. Another wave of film production in the 1970s came about with the introduction of Super 8 cameras, which apparently, as I had discovered in my school archives, went so far as teachers using traditional 16mm or 35mm film cameras (a project undoubtedly financed by my school’s 58 wealthy community). Then, into the 1980s, video production became widely introduced in schools when video-8 and Hi-8 video formats became commercially available. While film viewing for educational purposes and critiquing (i.e., media literacy) has been education’s main staple—rising further in popularity by 1984, when large quantities of films were transferred to analogue video rendering them economical and practical for teachers (Cox, 1984)—it would appear that with each new development in camera technologies, film production also seemed to increase (Buckingham, 1990). This has evidently been due to the fact that with each camera innovation, filming became more cost effective and required less technological know-how. Additionally, as far as producing, viewing or critiquing film, video made the costly and cumbersome use of reel-to-reel projectors unnecessary. Though in principle, film critiquing also benefited from technological shifts, as was evident when media literacy took off in the Eighties once films were transferred to video, making it possible to rapidly rewind and review a segment several times over. Notably, the ‘freeze frame’ technique for film analysis commonly used by Jacques Aumont (1996) was not yet available on video format, as analogue video did not hold the image clearly. Since the projector did not hold a frame at all (stopping a projector on an image was not possible without melting the film), film analysis only benefited from multiple viewings in analogue video (rewind/fast forward). To analyze a single frame, therefore, it was necessary to put the film through a manual editor such as the Moviola or a flatbed that resembles a reel-to-reel audio editing device. To this day, the freeze frame technique for analysis, which Aumont (1996) suggested paralleled the analysis of written texts (where one may pause on a phrase), is one that is questioned since moving pictures, unlike words, filmstrips and slides, are viewed in motion, making ‘motion’ an 59 important component of understanding film (Casetti, 1999). Once again, film critique entered the realm of rational, reductionist thought by studying still images as parts of the moving whole. At any rate, the principle of innovation holds today, but at an increasing speed and by quantum strides. I suspect that the focus on production at the turn of the 21st century, which has changed educational interest from mere ‘viewing’ to ‘creating’ knowledge with images and sound, as Buckingham (2007) and others have noted, came about through the introduction of digital cameras along with digital post-production technologies that take filmmakers beyond merely capturing film (i.e., on digital 8 or mini-DV) toward non-linear editing, archiving, and distributing (i.e., sharing on the Internet). What we now have in our power that differs from all the other time periods in camera or film format innovation since cinema’s invention, is the capacity to fully create using images and sound, which is not merely having shifted from linear to non-linear editing (like the evolution of editing on a typewriter to a word processor). From concept to photography, from photography to editing, and from editing to distributing or sharing, the average individual now can be a fullfledged producer and distributor. Thus, today’s filmmaker, as filmmaker Rodriguez (1998, 2004) epitomized, is a selfcontained, self-taught, self-mastered, self-distributing production studio with access to all the necessary elements—including fully orchestrated sounds in the public domain, that can be remastered for creating a high quality soundtrack, with a free distribution center that takes minutes to upload and share (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo). And even if there are hundreds of thousands of images that are not much to look at and subjects that are just as banal, this new age of sharing images globally was made possible by the invention of YouTube (2005). In many ways, that new age parallels the ‘age of Daguerre,’ beginning in the nineteenth century, whose photographic 60 invention in turn began the ‘age of the Lumières,’ whose filmic invention sparked the twentieth century filled with motion pictures. In any case, one can easily see why a film production curriculum, as an artful process, had a tendency to just fade away in education until the 21st century. If a young filmmaker could not edit, orchestrate, or distribute, the film experience would remain as a wonderful and unforgettable process, but to the teacher, it would be an unfinished work not easily evaluated or defended in an age of accountability where the objectivity of criterion-referenced assessments and standardized evaluations are given education’s highest value. Despite the importance that process plays in a learning environment, educators continue to be firmly anchored to a productive end largely due to the accountability factor, all the more realizable in today’s digital context. This is not to say that film or video has faded away in education—on the contrary, viewing films and videos continue to be plentiful in various subject areas as part of the learning process (e.g., to clarify and illustrate meanings). I am specifying, however, that viewing and making are two separate cognitive functions, which is precisely what we know of reading and writing (see footnote).1 Put another way, it is almost impossible to objectively determine the emotional and mental growth, intellectual capacity, and cognitive achievement of a learner without rational evidence. And despite the importance of filmic texts, which specialists across multiple disciplines have intuited since film’s inception, school film viewing and production had been left in a status of novelty or an enriching pastime that made school more palatable, yet easily shelved and forgotten when more pressing ideas would take hold—until such time as technology changed the nature of viewing and production. 1 Canadian author, Howard Engle (2007), has written a memoir, Man who forgot how to read, highlighting how a stroke had left him utterly unable to read despite that he could still write, demonstrating what neurologists have come to see as two separate cognitive functions. 61 At any rate, until such time as society had been fully saturated with images, produced by children and youth, as well as by activists, politicians, corporations, social pundits, religious organizations, and journalists, many educators could not predict the unfolding events attributed to film’s invention. Today, educators have sounded the call for action, and the political motives span the range of individuals anxious to reign in what seems like a runaway phenomenon. A phenomenon that resembles a gigantic tidal wave set in motion by undercurrents of activity not well understood is an event that demands explanation. Graduate researchers and the emergence of a collective Thus far, this historical overview helped me to uncover the sense of ‘urgency’ that has motivated and driven educators to research new digital works comprised mainly of images (i.e., visual and auditory). But a more detailed historical view has helped me unearth many more important issues. As time progressed, a worrisome thought arose from out of my readings on historical film research within and without education. I wondered how I would join my experiences with broader theoretical understandings of film in an educational context. While I was located in the department of curriculum and pedagogy, as a multi-disciplinary educator and researcher, the first thing I sought was where to situate my investigation. The second pursuit was finding a means to transform my experiences into scholarship. To cross the threshold of experience, from making films and teaching with new digital film technologies into film scholarship in an educational context required a meaningful goal. As the famous modal jazz piece by Miles Davis goes, I needed to find the ‘So What’ of my investigation. When I had embarked on my filmmaking unit, fifteen years earlier, I did so with an awareness of many issues in education that menaced my sensibilities toward agency and creativity. As mentioned, that elementary school film experience had been my second foray into 62 educational filmmaking. The first had been at a time when I was teaching various subjects in an ‘inner city school’ filled with youth challenged by social and learning issues. As it has been common in many school districts dealing with difficult behavioral concerns that often lead to tragic events, that inner city school was modeled on behavioral psychology. The result of such an approach in an educational context, while useful in managing behavior, left no door open to explore other less invasive and coercive approaches to learning. This impasse conflicted with Maxine Green’s words that haunted my mind, “A teacher in search of [his/her] own freedom may be the only kind of teacher who can arouse young persons to go in search of their own” (Green, 1998; as cited in Ayers & Miller, 1998). When I eventually transferred to a school in a community that was economically well off, I was surprised to discover that agency and creativity were the founding principles driving the school philosophy. The school’s administrative efforts to create a collaborative teaching and learning environment based on contemporary learning theories made a significant impact on me. First, by comparing the disparity between the two school environments, I was sensitive to matters pertaining to ‘accessibility’ (e.g., social, technological, and economic constraints). Second, by comparing contemporary learning theories and practice to behavioral theories and practice, neither of which were fully satisfactory, I was left to wonder whether there were theories and practices not yet examined in light of the changing times in technological advancement. Those thoughts, which led me to return to complete graduate work on creativity and technology, opened the door to explore classroom instruction in three domains of expertise: music education, physical education, and literacy education. During my graduate studies and beyond (a period that stretches over a decade), I experimented with variant theoretical perspectives that underpin curriculum and pedagogy both in the context of instructing teacher candidates (i.e., pre-service teachers) and youth who have been part of several university-led 63 research projects on video production and literacy. Therein I sought to find purpose in theory and practice. In part, my investigations began to take shape with an unexpected venture, which began when I was asked to videotape a Reader’s Theatre performance of a well-known Broadway play and movie, The Laramie Project. The project, supported by the Dean of Education, was directed and performed by education research graduates and professors. It was put into production following a public school district’s debacle over closing down a high school production of the play during rehearsals. Instead of embracing artistic works that could open positive debate around difficult social issues, it would appear that school districts facing social and political constraints are not yet ready to dismantle barriers for those working in the area of social justice and equity. Shortly after the theatre presentation, I became part of a group of research graduates keen on continuing ‘performance research.’ We formed a group that came to be known as The Collective and met regularly to discuss projects that would allow us to ply our various talents in music, theatre, dance, scripting, and other arts. The play had motivated us to form a performance research group for several reasons. First, the play not only brought to the fore the tragic events around homophobia, it also, ironically, brought forward issues of censorship and prejudice that still continue to plague our communities of learning. The incident led to a distinct feeling that the political and economic forces surrounding literacy were at the heart of educational concerns. In other words, issues of accessibility (harking back to my experiences with troubled youth), which are politically and economically motivated, went beyond mere ‘classroom practice’ and we were suddenly buoyed 64 up with the emotional sensation of having landed squarely into the title, Pedagogy of the oppressed, of Brazilian literacy activist Paulo Freire’s (1970) seminal work.2 Second, inspired by the response to the Reader’s Theatre performed on campus by members of the faculty, forming a graduate research group, made up primarily of performing artists, offered us a challenge to bring performance-based research to the fore. This form of research was finding new footing in our faculty in large part due to research efforts by various members of the faculty (e.g., Fells, 2002, 2004; Gouzouasis et al., 2007; Springgay et al., 2008; Sinner et al., 2007) and had had precedents set in faculty-sponsored conferences. Thus, not long after The Collective was formed, we were offered a second Reader’s Theatre performance opportunity that coincided with the politics and policies underpinning adolescent literacy. The proposal made for an ideal experiment. This time we were going to ‘perform’ the content of an article that had been written by Dean R. J. Tierney (2001-2002), first published in the Journal of Adolescent Literacy, under the title: An ethical chasm: Jurisprudence, jurisdiction and the literacy profession. The original article by Tierney was already one that had deviated from the usual journal offerings, insofar as it had been written, in part, as a courtroom drama and was easily ‘performable.’ Having been inspired by David Guterson’s (1995), novel Snow Falling on Cedars, Tierney had seized the opportunity to render a rather dry, technical article into a lively narrative that would allow him to capture some of his experiences ‘behind closed doors’ as a language and literacy researcher. Several members of The Collective condensed the dramatic courtroom sections of the article, considerably shortening the text into a script to be performed during Dean Tierney’s Keynote address of the Simon Fraser University’s 40th Anniversary, March 4, 2006. A year 2 Freire’s work centers on the idea that a pedagogy of oppression is buried in the varied ‘texts’ written and produced by a dominant culture and society (i.e., textbooks, novels, television, works of art, and so on), which maintains and reinforces the segregation and inequality (i.e., oppression) of minorities and the disadvantaged. 65 later, I revised the script into a ‘shooting script,’ upon being given the green light to turn it into a movie. Casting most of the actors who had parts in the original Reader’s Theatre, save for those I had played, which I turned over to others in order to direct, I added a few more actors to fill the parts that had been doubled on stage. With my affiliation to the film industry, I was able to secure two professional film actors in a cast of thirteen, and a cameraman who had worked on several television and film crews as a steady-cam operator (i.e., handheld camera). The film took three full days to shoot and more than a year to complete the editing, with a second edit after its première with cast and crew. At any rate, once I had made the decision to embark on this filmmaking challenge, I entered a dimension of investigation that I had hardly expected given the genesis for this project. What I found myself engaged in is what Whitehead (1938) described as “the basis of democracy,” which “is the common fact of value-experience, as constituting the essential nature of each pulsation of actuality. Everything has some value for itself, for others, and for the whole” (p. 151). While still operating under the assumption that I was investigating performance-based research with an emphasis on the relationship between arts and literacy, which then shifted to film-based research (an intersection of film, arts, and literacy), I began to examine the body of work I had undertaken under the light of this politically charged world of ‘literacy education.’ Under which assumptions had I been entrusting theoretical constructs? The question that remained uppermost in my mind hinged on whether the theories founded in educational research on arts, language, and literacy held any cogency with those found in the discipline of film studies. And if those collective theories could explain the fundamental transformations that have occurred each time I undertook film arts in the classroom or beyond. The purpose for my investigation, which had remained opaque, began to reveal itself in the course of sifting through the literature during the very processes of teaching film arts, filming, and editing. 66 Film arts as literacy, communications, and technology Initially, film in education rose predominantly out of communication studies as the ‘modes of communication’ (i.e., radio, film and television) began to intensify and shift the way in which we understood the shaping of society (Smith, 2003). Thus, the study of ‘film literacy’ by the mid-nineteen eighties settled within several curricular areas of interest, such as ‘media arts’ under the direction of arts educators; ‘media literacy,’ typically under the purview of sociologists and communication arts educators; and ‘multiple literacies’ as a component of language and literacy disciplines, which extends the research, teaching and learning of the written word (Eisner, 2001; Jenkins, 2006; New London Group, 1996). However, long before the writing of the multiliteracies ‘manifesto’ by The New London Group (1996), which espoused virtues of a burgeoning new literacy in “multimedia technologies,” digital images and sound had entered technology studies, visual arts, and music curricula for several decades. This history has been explored by a number of researchers, such as, Ely, 1992; Madeja, 1993; Moore, 1991; Papert, 1980; Rheingold, 1985; Roland, 1990; Slawson, 1993. Despite that arts and technology have held a particular interest in film arts throughout history, it has been a collective concern with literacy that has driven research movements in recent times. As an arts educator, with interests that ranged from philosophy to cognitive science, it was necessary to survey what literacy implies and why it has become the guiding principle behind current educational policies, which were raised in Tierney’s (2001-2002) article. According to the New London Group (1996) the principle behind literacy “is to ensure that all students benefit from learning in ways that allow them to participate fully in public, community, and economic life” (p. 60). Turning to education journals, I traced some of the economic and 67 political forces behind issues of literacy as early as 1886 when the National Education Association reported the following on the low literacy rate in the State of Louisiana. President William Preston Johnson of Tulane University, Louisiana, in his paper on education in his own state, spoke of Louisiana as lowest in the scale of literacy, only forty-nine per cent of its population being able to read and write. He pleaded for the national aid proposed by the Blair bill. There was, however, in his paper, nothing to offset the arguments that have been urged against the bill. It is hard for a close student to see how the mere lavish outlay of money is greatly to overcome conditions which money can only indirectly and remotely affect (p. 92). Clearly, early advocates in literacy became inexorably tied to the political and economic forces of the time. Surveying today’s legislation on literacy in education—for instance, the policies introduced by the Clinton and Bush administrations—it is plain to see how far the forces of politics and economics reach. To this end, Tierney (2009) expressed, “The control of literacy carries enormous political clout as well as economic advantage whether the profit be book sales, curriculum control or tenure” (p. 278). Additionally, Tierney pointed out that this political clout and economic advantage is wrought by the “power of certain groups to lobby for legislation to ensure certain pedagogical approaches” (p. 280). As I explored the body of literature published in education journals related to theories and practice of film or video, it therefore came as no surprise that the vast majority were written with literacy in mind. It is difficult to disagree with the tenets of the New London Group (1996) who sought to emancipate students from a “literacy pedagogy [that] has traditionally meant teaching and learning to read and write in page-bound, official, standard forms of the national language” (p. 60-61). Who best to put forward an argument of this kind than those whose professional expertise begins with the teaching of reading and writing? In effect, by advocating for a new literacy, the tenets of democracy would be vigorously upheld, and the New London Group has been able to make a convincing plea for new comprehensive pedagogical directions. 68 Digital curriculum and pedagogy in education, which include film arts, grew from quantitative communication research (Currie, 1999; Smith, 2003). Ultimately this research was supported and sanctioned by proponents of literacy as an emancipation project. For as the two questions and stated concerns that follow demonstrate, the New London Group (1996) felt compelled in light of a changing society to re-conceptualize literacy. How do we ensure that differences of culture, language and gender are not barriers to educational success? And what are the implications of these differences for literacy pedagogy (p. 61)? The main areas of common or complementary concern included the pedagogical tension between immersion and explicit models of teaching; the challenge of cultural and linguistic diversity; the newly prominent modes and technologies of communication; and the changing text usage in restructured workplaces. Our main concern was the question of life chances as it relates to the broader moral and cultural order of literacy pedagogy (p. 62). By way of clarifying what is meant by pedagogy, there are several ways in which this term may be employed. What the New London Group expressed as the tension between immersion and explicit models of teaching is frequently viewed as the difference between what educators refer to as experiential learning versus direct instruction (Dewey, 1958). The movement toward experiential or immersion learning led to constructivist pedagogies, with some theoretical frameworks drawn from social constructivism (Brooks & Brooks, 1993; Plantinga & Smith, 1999). Notably, pedagogy does not merely refer to teaching approaches and methods of instruction but also refers to ‘textual’ pedagogies whereby knowledge is drawn from cultural entities, such as arts, politics, and economics and their ‘texts’ (i.e., written, aural, and visual artifacts). This view led the movement toward critical pedagogies, which method of ‘decoding’ textual meanings were intended to emancipate the learner through drawing awareness of the implicit knowledge systems that shape positioning, subjectivity, and identity (Freire, 2005). The 69 New London Group addressed all three kinds of pedagogies, adding a fourth perspective referred to as transformative pedagogy. Four components of pedagogy are suggested: Situated Practice, which draws on the experience of meaning-making in lifeworlds, the public realm, and workplaces; Overt Instruction, through which students develop an explicit metalanguage of Design; Critical Framing, which interprets the social context and purpose of Designs of meaning; and Transformed Practice, in which students, as meaning-makers, become Designers of social futures (p. 65). One may begin to suspect that the policies governing arts and technology education have not had the same political and economic clout as literacy. First, one may consider the contribution of arts and technology in the heightened speed and breadth by which we have become, as previously expressed, “globalized societies” creating “the multifarious cultures that interrelate and the plurality of texts that circulate.” Both arts and technology have been viewed as complicit in propagating an image soaked society through television, video, Internet, and film. Despite tensions that may arise between arts and technology researchers on the principle of aesthetics (Gouzouasis, 2005, 2006), it is impossible to not see that today’s digital expressions make arts and technology political and economic allies. From one viewpoint, technology contributes to what Donna Haraway sees as a ‘cyborg’ pedagogy, whereby humans are not merely comparable to machines but are in fact becoming a hybrid of human and machine. For the artist and humanist, technology dangerously crosses the border of what it means to be human (Garoian & Gaudelius, 2001). From another perspective artists who “perform resistance in the digital age” may be considered disingenuous in their artistic critique given the centuries long association they have had with multiple technologies (Gouzouasis, 2006). Second, controversies surrounding the ‘digital divide’ caused by economic inequality between school districts and communities have included the prohibitive costs in hardware, software, and the training and hiring of specialists with skills and knowledge requisite of 70 information and communication technologies (e.g., programming). While arts and technology educators argued for political and economic backing that would serve the interests of advancing new technologies and preserving dwindling arts programs, literacy educators argued for political and economic backing that would provide for “a good life and an equitable society” (New London Group, 1996, p. 67). Thus technology and arts educators have often been viewed as promoting pedagogies despite inequalities, whereas literacy educators (buoyed by the field of communications) have been viewed as more closely allied to empowerment. This latter view was helped by the fact that ‘reading and writing’ has long been an emancipation goal aimed toward the whole of society. In consideration, certain aspects of arts and technology education retain the unfavorable view of being exclusionary and elitist with technology garnering the hostile view that proliferates comparisons between humans and machines, evidenced as early as J.P Guilford’s 1950 (1987) address and, most recently, in light of what is perceived as ‘cyborg’ pedagogy. In any case, the unrelenting speed of technological developments in the past four years has created a heightened sense of urgency toward digital literacy. Since the 2005 launching of the video streaming on-line program, YouTube, which currently uploads 200,000 new videos per day (Wesch, 2008), educators across all disciplines have hastened to research the digital video phenomenon and to initiate literacy pedagogies in video viewing and making (Jenkins, 2006). In other words, film works have become a renewed point of interest for many educators due to a number of factors, not the least being the introduction and advancement of technologies used to manipulate images. Importantly, I do not speak of images as merely visual. For the most part auditory, visual, visceral, and kinetic images have saturated our brains for over a century as those have emanated from big screen theatres to miniaturized cellular telephones and from social to individual spaces re-conceptualized to fit a technological age. Image producing technologies, 71 such as, cameras and MIDI instruments, along with computer hardware and software for projecting, manipulating, scanning, animating, recording, composing, and editing, have become increasingly popular in the classroom as digital technologies continue to expand (Jenkins, 2006). How are we to understand images and their affect? Taking another look into history, new movements in literacy were on the horizon with the advent of photography and radio in the late nineteenth century, the introduction of which led to the development of educational interests in cinema, television, and video (e.g., Allen, 1940; Child, 1939; Ginsberg, 1940; Gray, 1940; Smith, 1942; Mitchell, 1929). Over one hundred years later, film continues to be a central focus of literacy and arts of our times by virtue of the fact that films, in their multiple genres and technological formats, flood our environment with images and continue to be thought to possess qualities of language and art that serve to construct and transform dialogic, technological, scientific, social, cultural, political, and economic spaces (e.g., Allen & Smith, 1997; Bakhtin, 1981; Baudrillard, 1981, 1998; Braudy & Cohen, 2004; Miller & Stam, 2000; Rogers & Schofield, 2005). One can think of film literacy, generally speaking, as the critical and expressive ways students ‘read’ and ‘write’ using filmic processes (i.e., aural, visual, kinesthetic images), which is as relevant to literacy educators as it is to communication researchers rooted in sociological and cultural perspectives (Buckingham, 1990; Sefton-Green, 2006). Yet film arts also invoke the artistic processes that arise when students are immersed in subjective aesthetic experiences. Those experiences raise the question on the workings of an embodied brain (Eisner, 1981, 2001; Gouzouasis, 2006). A theoretical view of the embodied brain, from a neuroscience perspective, is one that carries importance if we are to deepen our understanding of what constitutes an image beyond socio-cultural foundations. Understanding images in relation to the workings of an 72 embodied brain through neuroscience frameworks is an area of education that has yet to receive full consideration. The rise of film research in education: In search of the expert With interests and perspectives stemming from the end of the nineteenth century leading the way, which one might argue continue to be in currency today, mass media innovations beginning with photography, gave rise to the study of what arts educator Elliot Eisner (1997) has termed, “alternate forms of representation.” Those alternate forms, in contrast to written language, were not solely limited to the study of media as art, as the more than one hundred years of research on film shows. In fact, that research is well documented, with many historical and contemporary journal articles archived in JSTOR. Additionally, there is a vast collection of books detailing historical accounts of the psychological and social science initiatives arising from pedagogical concerns, with the majority tied to education. Moreover, there is a wide collection on cultural film studies, which emerged from anthropology and critical theory. Those collections of works from the social sciences sit apart from an even greater collection of magazines, journals, and books specialized and dedicated to understanding film as an art and a language. The comparison of language, contained in the earliest works written on cinema from classic film studies to the most recent studies, is what has been called the “second wave” of semiotics, generative linguistics, cognition, and pragmatics (Casetti, 1999). Generally speaking, since film studies were widely disseminated to the public, one may find in all the collections—from one discipline to the next—ideas that have migrated and crossed over the mostly porous boundaries. Beginning as early as 1909, with the publication of Nickelodeon, “America’s leading journal of motography,” studies centered on “entertainment, education, science, and advertising” (Grieveson & Wasson, 2008). By 1913, Emilie Altenloh, doctoral student in sociology at the 73 University of Heidelberg, completed her dissertation on the sociology of cinema, and by 1916, Hugo Münsterberg had published his seminal work on the film viewer, entitled, The film: A psychological study (Grieveson & Wasson, 2008). Those theories, coupled with “the study of propaganda emerging in the early 1920s,” were rooted “on the particular conceptions of subjectivity, social order, and media effects” whereby it was “connected to the pressing imperative to understand the management of opinion in mass democracies” (p. 14). According to Grieveson (2008), given the enormous influx of people moving from rural to urban centers and the extraordinary innovations in mass communication systems at the end of the nineteenth century, many agreed that, “democracy is governable only on the basis of a knowledge of the opinion of the masses” (p. 15). Walter Lippman, Pulitzer prize intellectual and political commentator, for instance, contended that “people’s thoughts were increasingly shaped by the agencies of mass communication, which molded a society’s knowledge and appealed only to ‘stereotypes’ and beliefs rooted in myths, dreams, traditions, and personal wishes, thereby ‘manufacturing consent’ and problematizing the sustainability of democracy” (p. 15). Moreover, Lippman argued that what was needed “was a scholarly elite to assess and interpret objectively the potentially dangerous public opinion and to work through organizations of independent experts to make ‘the unseen facts intelligible to those who have to make decisions’ ” (p. 15). His views on the scholarly elite, which were held in common among the intellectual and governing classes, were realized within the new fields of psychology and anthropology—giving rise to social psychology and social sciences now interested in the “social behavior” of the mass public. As Grieveson (2008) further elaborates, the rise in empirical methods of investigation, which gave way to measuring “attitudes” and “opinions” believed by many to be the cause of human actions and a “critical component of managing behavior,” established quantitative and 74 qualitative studies that showed “an assessment of people’s mental attitudes could be useful not only for commercial purposes but also for ensuring the sustainability of democracy and of social order” (p. 15, italics added). It was in this frame of mind that “philosophical concerns with mass publics, opinions and mimesis” (concerns, one may recall, founded in Ancient Greece) “were made empirical” (p. 15). In a review of a rather chilling work of Grieveson and others, such as Mark Anderson (2008), one discovers that the new psychology and sociology of that era, which introduced the notions of Freud and Münsterberg on ‘mimetic relations, dreams, and hypnosis,’ along with the concerns of “social control” felt endemically as part of governmental dispositions, “became the central issue animating a sense of urgency about studying cinema” (Grieveson, p. 11, italics added). As far as the study of film was concerned, Grieveson notes disturbingly, Identifying potential disorder with the goal of instilling social order was a primary impulse underpinning these studies. Accounts claimed that the audiences for nickelodeons were predominantly children, immigrants, or women—all groups regarded as particularly prone to mimetic tendencies, as we have seen, because of their unstable location as self-aware/governing subjects. The reform journal Outlook typically commented, ‘Undeveloped people, those in transitional stages and children are deeply affected’ by moving pictures. Initial studies of cinema often posited the direct impact of moving pictures on the behavior of audiences and thus on what the social reformer Jane Addams called their ‘working moral codes’ (p. 11). Despite the direction empirical study had taken at that time, Grieveson also points out that there were counter forces acting as means of resistance to such popular views among the intellectual elite. Beginning with new discoveries in sciences and social sciences that rejected positivist research, this new perspective resulted in a necessary resistance to extreme ideologies. This resistance led to critical and field theories still in operation today. Nonetheless, despite Münsterberg’s directorial position with the psychological laboratory at Harvard, it was the University of Chicago, then working toward an elite class of film experts, 75 which veritably established the film scholar. Operating under the ‘new’ empirical ethos in the humanities (particularly among social scientists and psychologists), the University was the center of empirical film study, whereby such notable film ‘scholars’ rose to public prominence such as, among others, the behaviorists John Watson and Karl Lashley, communications guru Edgar Dale, sociology professor Ernest Burgess and, most notably, two members of the Chicago School of sociology, Frederick Thrasher and Robert Park. As Anderson (2008) explains, the University of Chicago was poised to utilize “adapted biological concepts of growth and decay to describe the rapid rise of the modern industrial city” stemming from the fact that “the city was both a natural environment and research laboratory where the social scientist might observe and record the forces of organization and disorganization that led to continual social change” (p. 41). Elaborating, Anderson renders more insight. Social disorganization was seen as an ordinary part of social formation since it is often necessary that older social relations be broken down so that new relations might form; however, if the rate of growth is too rapid, then social and personal disorganization can easily give rise to social ills such as delinquency, poverty, crime, suicide and disease. Thus social problems should be understood as disequilibrium and degeneration in the social organism (p. 41). While a differing notion of disequilibrium from a physical science framework requires more detailed examination, suffice it to say that social science had drawn from a biological theory a concept whereby disequilibrium was viewed preferable when it achieved zero entropy (total disorder), since high disorder in society that causes chaos is considered intolerable (and possibly tragic). The history, which Grieveson (2008) and Anderson (2008) carefully details of those laboring under such views, is long and complex. Although only briefly touched on herein, several important educational outcomes that stem from this view need further clarification. 76 Operating under the 1928 committee funded by philanthropist Frances Payne Bingham Bolton, the Reverend William Short endeavored to conduct a “nationwide study to determine the degree of influence and effect of films upon children and adolescents and ultimately lobby for more stringent forms of legalized social control over the film industry” (Grieveson, p. 17). Short met in Chicago with social scientists Jane Addams and Alice Miller Mitchell, professor in the Chicago School of Education Werret Wallace Charters, psychologist Louis Thurstone and the School of Sociology’s Robert Ezra Park. According to Grieveson, “Together, the scholars gathered worked in the disciplines of sociology, psychology, social psychology and education; the innovation of the study of cinema grew from the disciplinary imperatives to understand individuals, social groups, and the educability of both the individual and social group” (p. 17). Among them, Park was notably enthusiastic about the Payne funded committee, for his goal was to delineate the causes of human behavior and delinquency as was also the goals of Short, whose intention was to study “cinema as a component of collective behavior and its impact on the creation of delinquency” (p. 20). Thus, the Payne Fund Studies were conducted from 1918 to 1919; while those were published (1928), the thirteen studies were not widely read as had been anticipated (Grieveson, 2008). In light of this, the studies were then compiled and published in a popularized 1934 version by committee chairman, W.W. Charters and journalist Henry Forman in Our movie made children. Re-edited and re-released in 1996 under the title, Children and the movies: Media Influence and the Payne Fund Foundation Controversy (Jowett, Jarvie, & Fuller, 1996). The studies themselves prove to continue to have some currency in our times. Notwithstanding the historical analysis conducted on the social, political, educational, and scientific movements influencing researchers at that time, while reading any one of those early studies, one can easily deduce that research interest also coincided, then as now, with 77 changes in mass media innovations. In particular, film played a major role. Media shifted from photography to silent film with orchestrated sounds, then to films with sound vinyl recordings. From live radio to live television, media also shifted to analogue audio-visual taping, then onto digital audio and video at a fraction of the cost of previous production. Emergent technologies in motion photography and recorded sound have thus motivated and driven various groups of researchers for more than a century at different junctures. As mentioned, those early studies under the Payne Fund Studies came up against resistance by the Chicago Motion Picture Commission (CMPC), which was assembled to consider various points of view at a weekly hearing held between late 1918 and May 1919. The CMPC had been adamant that empirical verification of the effects of motion pictures was produced and, thus, sponsored a survey conducted by Ernest Burgess, “co-editor of the influential textbook, Introduction to Sociology, to quantify the effects of motion pictures on school children” (Grieveson, pp. 15-16). But it came down to the fact that the collection of the studies, on the whole, “had a muted impact on the continuing study of cinema” (p. 22). Grieveson speculates that the reasons for the “limited impact” had to do with the Production Code that was then written by the Motion Picture Producers and Directors Association (MPPDA). In the code the political goals of the studies were partly realized or at least deflected…The MPPDA also actively sought to undermine the validity of the studies when the organization seized upon a critique of the studies’ methodology and findings articulated by the philosopher Mortimer Adler in his 1937 book Art and prudence. The organization not only promoted Adler’s critique but also commissioned Raymond Moley to write a popularized summary of it. Moreover, as one begins to take note in the following addendum, the constant technological changes influenced the direction of political leadership, a factor that continues today as we grapple with issues of government control and access (e.g., Google in China). 78 One other important potential reason for the eclipse of the Payne Fund Studies…cinema itself became less centrally important to practices of governance in line with the increased importance of other media, starting with radio and later with television (pp. 22-23). Although the MPPDA exercised a degree of force in opposing the centrality of those studies in the “new and as yet unformed discipline of film studies” (p. 22), it should come as no surprise to anyone in education that the Payne Fund Studies had some “impact on pedagogical practices in high schools and universities” (p. 22). One can only conjecture as to why those kinds of studies seem to impact education more forcibly than in the fields that study media. Clearly, education has much broader concerns that occlude the importance of understanding the medium of communication, not the least is an understanding of human behavior. I can imagine the effect such empirically studied viewpoints held on the public, let al.one teachers. What I suspect was that the studies, based on views largely generated by teachers who were part of those studies, carried an air of grave importance. Teachers considered movies to have a negative impact on “classroom” behavior as “moving pictures induced in young girls the ‘vampire attitude,’ taught young boys ‘boy bandit games,’ and stopped children from becoming ‘good citizens’ ” (Grieveson, p. 16). As a teacher and educator in a teacher education program, I can attest to the sensitivity to ‘classroom behavior.’ This has been an ongoing theme in schools of teacher education, probably since the start of compulsory education and possibly due to the task of managing large numbers of children at once. In turn, this ‘behavioral’ concern has caused many to wonder about the ‘artificiality’ and ‘coerciveness’ found within a classroom that inevitably produces uncharacteristic behaviors in children as a result, as it was most notably observed by philosophers John Dewey and Alfred North Whitehead. 79 Finally, the Payne Fund, as mentioned, “went on to support research in radio,” and, thus, “communication studies emerged here…aligned with the social sciences then coalescing into a discipline in the 1940s when the term “communication research” first became apparent” (Grieveson, p. 23). Privately or governmentally funded, the field of communication studies became established in universities in the 1950s and although film was thought to fall under this new field, in fact, film study gave way to the humanities. That change came about when film was viewed increasingly as a category of ‘art’ largely thanks to the initiatives to show and preserve film arts by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and such tenacious individuals as Henry Langlois, who was considered instrumental in the preservation of vast quantities of films, particularly during WWII, where many films were in danger of being destroyed by enemy forces. Having been obsolesced by the study of radio and television, the study of film texts was left to the expertise of the film enthusiast interested in the art of filmmaking. Film studies became an unbridled ‘invisible college’ that seemed to operate outside the tenets of communications. As I witnessed in my early years of teaching, however, with the development of video, then computers, a new wave of interest by the 1980s put film texts and film study back under the communications’ microscope and, naturally enough, education. As mentioned, I had found filmmaking books in the communication arts section of our school library—a section that did not include, for instance, traditional arts, but rather many books concerning technologies utilized in the art of communication, namely, radio, television, and film (interestingly, books on photography were shelved under visual arts). Thus, under the communication arts section, I also came across a book that had developed a film and television curriculum by Considine and Haley (1992). 80 In their preface, the authors explained that TV and film audiences either perceive and process at a shallow level or have a deep understanding depending on the level of media literacy—a term frequently employed by diverse experts—though what this kind of literacy entailed (beyond the notion of critical viewing and responding) was not explained further. And at that time, no doubt to visual artists reading this today, I shared the same concern as to how a communication arts specialist can lay claim to understand the image without some recourse to experts in the arts or neuroscience. At any rate, in keeping with their research interests and background, the authors did not describe film as a form of art or language, nor any detail regarding what is an image, rather, everything was explained through a communication model (making the shelving more obvious, while not explaining the distinction). This work was, more or less, a model that descended from the ideas of Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan, thus more specifically tied to ‘media studies.’ More curiously, the ideas expressed in the authors’ preface gave way to the view of what Adorno and Horkheimer called “the culture industry.” Nothing led me to consider their pedagogy had much to do with the European Marxist intellectuals of the 1930s, which descended from the Frankfurt school’s luminaries such as Habermas, and their American counterparts, Kracauer, Lowenthal and Marcuse, nor that of the American traditions of cultural critique. Yet, their premises, I was to discover, were deeply aligned with the research tradition known as critical theory—a tradition vastly different from empirical social sciences. It seems logical that, if one aims toward critical thinking, some aspect of critical theory will filter the perspective. Indeed, Considine (2009) recently stipulated, “Media literacy can be an empowering pedagogy to protect students from potential media manipulation while also preparing them for the responsibilities of citizenship” (p. 66). Since the notion of “empowerment” and “protection from manipulation” has long been the general aim of critical 81 theory, if not stated, it is fair to suggest that some hidden connection exists between the two. Critical theory, as a form of resistance, had a broad mandate, not only to critique research based on normative values, such as those underpinning the work of psychologists and sociologists, but it could also align itself with critiquing mass production that advanced Marxist materialist views. The evidence for this suggestion lies in the makeup of the broad field of communication studies. Considine and Haley (1992), for instance, found support for their ideas as part of the vast, overlapping and, some say, all encompassing field of Communication Studies. While not the most authoritative, Wikipedia describes communication studies to be “part of both the social sciences and the humanities, drawing heavily on fields such as sociology, psychology, anthropology, political science, and economics as well as rhetoric, literary studies, linguistics, and semiotics.” And as broad as that may seem, “the field can incorporate and overlap with the work of other disciplines as well, however, including engineering, architecture, mathematics, computer science, gender and sexuality studies.” Despite this less-than-reliable information source, one can verify that the National Communication Association (NCA) list of disciplines is aligned with the preceding insofar as the list includes: Communication & Technology, Critical-Cultural, Health, InterculturalInternational, Interpersonal-Small Group, Mass Communication, Organizational, Political, and Rhetorical. While The International Communication Association (ICA) includes, among others: Communication History; Communication Law and Policy; Ethnicity and Race in Communication; Feminist Scholarship; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies; Global Communication and Social Change; Information Systems; Journalism Studies; Instructional/Developmental Communication; Language and Social Interaction; Organizational Communication; Philosophy of Communication; Political Communication; Popular 82 Communication; Public Relations; and Visual Communication Studies. In short, anything that might be considered a matter of communication. This diversity within the field of Communication Studies may explain the overlap of critical theory in film criticism, for instance, as expressed by communication arts specialist Henry Jenkins, critical theorists Henry Giroux and Peter McLaren, anthropologists Bruno Latour and Marcus Banks, and feminist theorists Laura Mulvey, Kaja Silverman, Teresa de Lauretis and Barbara Creed, to name a few. Upon reflection, there is a feeling of the same alarmist views in the latter critical frameworks for film study as the earlier empirical ones regarding the deleterious effects of films on audiences—which, to put it politely, smells the same, while theoretically is situated in a different pile. In other words, critical theorists have fought to reveal the forces that “worked to implement social control by reproducing normative subjectivity and so effectively enslaving people and making totalitarianism possible” (Grieveson, 2008, p. 23)—and in some sense or another, both groups of experts, empirical and critical, have labored as resisters against an advancing sinister force. To be able to discern sinister forces—those that destroy the life and dignity of human beings—requires more than one kind of critique. Unfortunately, for many kinds of resisters, ideologies may at times blind one’s capacity to make such discernment fully conscious. If empirical studies were conducted as a means to measure the deleterious effects of film contributing to the ‘delinquent’ behavior of individuals and societies, critical theories, by contrast, sprang from the well of a materialist view on the deleterious effects of film as a means of social control, whereby society was viewed as controlled principally by consumption and production. Whereas the first sought to control and shape society into ‘good citizens,’ the latter hoped to free society from the pernicious control of the market (i.e., capitalism). 83 In other words, both rational positions frame the individual and society as fragile beings. Unable to make critical decisions, individuals or whole societies are governed by their “emotional, psychic, mimetic, and delusional” (Grieveson, 2008, p. 23) impulses that lead them to excesses in consumption and, thereby, are driven to enslavement by the forces of production (e.g., an unregulated, free market). Fundamentally, both theories stem from observing and speculating on the forces at play as society moved into mass reproduction and the perilous twentieth century filled with mass killings. As always, this rational and social view has positioned itself without consideration to the emotional and subjective. This privileging of the rational over the emotional has largely played into religious contexts. For individuals like Reverend Short, I suspect it is neither social or material forces that governs behavior and hinders ‘good citizenry,’ rather it is the pernicious forces of ‘evil’ undermining the moral fiber of individuals (including the feeble emotional register that pervades human thought), but with an entirely different force perhaps bearing horns, tail, and pitchfork. Above all, there is an ongoing complicity between religious and empirical views that see ‘reason’ as necessary to govern human passion if we are to rise above the folly of nature. The two distinct paradigms of resistance to the advancing changes in society at the start of the twentieth century, i.e., positivism, came to be known as post-positivism and critical theory. Those paradigms simply illustrate the iterations of a familiar conflict that plagued society within the different ages, e.g., within Ancient Greece or within the Enlightenment. But also in evidence across the ages: between Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, between the Industrial Revolution and Postmodernism. In essence this may be viewed as Hegelian in nature (i.e., thesis, antithesis, synthesis) and reflect the numerous ‘revolutions’ (as the word implies) that simply go round and round. 84 Like variations on a theme but played out in a shorter riff (i.e., decades versus centuries), one observes that, throughout the 20th century, the realist-idealist or empirical-rational positions, along with the distinctive methods of induction-deduction, have created the age-old tensions that continue to invoke both ontological and epistemological debates. In fact, this iteration is an important point to be made with respect to the neglect of the emotional, which rarely factors into such critiques of the social. Although an exploration of the emotional is one that requires a more thoughtful review, before leaving this section on the history of educational film research and in keeping with the crescendo of impressions I experienced while reviewing the literature, several more observations are worth discussing. The dizzying effects of revolution: An imperative for creating experts With each novel change in mass communication technologies, first appearing in the late nineteenth century, the public was offered entertaining and artistic diversions at an economical rate (compared to live art exhibits and performances) and, by consequence, new media gained vast acceptance into society. Mark Anderson (2008) argues that “the cultural ascendancy of the modern human sciences coincide with the rise of mass culture” (p. 39). More importantly, not merely a societal change, but one that is felt as a rapid succession of large-scale, gestalt shifts (or the speed at which the magnitude and totalizing effect of the audio-visual could be compared with print technology) that makes a ‘dizzying’ impression, or as quoted earlier, a feeling of “disequilibrium.” Is it possible that modern human sciences might not have devoted so much intensity to the study of film if researchers had not themselves felt disoriented or imbalanced by the flux of images? The irony, of course, is that ‘rapid’ change is something we experience as children naturally and may well be why the spread of new media is taken up by those whose inclination is to adapt to change (until such time as an adult perspective brings a ‘steady’ rate). At any rate, the 85 many discussions I had had over the years with colleagues expressing a certain reluctance or distaste for technology versus those who embraced technological change, led me to believe that the tension I felt from teachers resisting new technologies came about because of rapid change. That kind of thinking appears as commonsense, however, cannot be so simple. While mass culture was arguably the primary impetus for the large body of empirical studies on the impact of movies on society, which then gave way to critical studies, Anderson ventures that “before any aesthetic, psychological, economic or sociological inquiries into motion pictures could properly converge to form a unique area of scholarship, an important institutional condition had to be fulfilled: the creation of the media expert” (p. 38, italics added). In other words, a change in society often pushes a group of experts to the fore as a means to assess and evaluate the phenomenon using objective means. Often, but not always, it is left to the group of experts to resolve issues of deep social concern. Invariably, the creation of the expert is a prickly matter for artists. Personally, expertise in the arts has always been confusing since it was clear that ‘expertise’ is first and foremost derived by experience—at least as it implies fluency. To be fluent suggests a conditioned and skilled reflex stored in memory after long practice, which does not require labored thought in order to perform or produce an effect. Fluency is a type of rapid ‘dexterity’ and range of ‘vocabulary’ not found in the novice, for instance, when playing an instrument or speaking a language. Thus, fluency implies rapid perception, comprehension, and performance. Without question, fluency has long been argued to differ from theoretical knowledge, i.e., knowing which elements are necessary versus applying those elements. In this respect, the art critic has a rather long and contentious history with the artist, as do art historians, art scholars and, art journalists. My sensibility toward artistic expertise laid somewhere between my years of practice and performance next to those who supported and understood my intentions. While I 86 certainly consulted the expert views of those who critiqued artistic works (at times to deflect a negative audience response), I was also prone to consult friendly audiences (usually to deflect the expert view). The ‘expert’ evaluating my artistry, therefore, seemed to vacillate with the winds of my ego, which grew or shrank dependent on the actual value offered by friends (and having spent many years in the midst of large numbers of artists, I suspect is true for most). But none of the preceding emotional content served to reconcile the difference between tacit and conceptual knowledge. In other words, the expert remains controversial in light of the insoluble problem between the subjective and objective viewpoints. Or more precisely, the problem rests between the differences of the rational and the experiential. Second, what remains quite puzzling is the issue of emotional investment. I have often wondered whether an expert was supportive or resistant to the medium upon which they were focused (as many have puzzled over the role of the art critic). Coming from my background, art critics, art historians, art scholars and art journalists, largely tend to be emotionally invested in art appreciation, while cultural critics appear to swing in either direction (a position not easily defined). Arguably, criticism may be seen as an art form, yet, those who do not practice or have not mastered fluency in the art they are critiquing, are in danger of producing a detached, rational impression that differs vastly from the subjective ones experienced by the artists themselves. This unfortunate state of affairs renders critical interpretations as having an air of pedantry with some mean-spiritedness attached. Of course, this brings up other issues pertinent to expertise, not the least of which is our subjective preferences. From a linguistic perspective, we are all experts in our maternal tongue, rarely making the kind of grammatical or syntactical errors of foreign speakers. Nonetheless, we are less than expert in trying to explain the structures of language, making us seem rather naïve in our use of language. Expertise, it would seem, requires both a profound subjective experience, richly 87 endowed with emotion, and an objective rational understanding that can pull apart the elements of a complex system without losing sight of our emotional salience. It is not clear that either the language or film expert emerged from such a holistic center. What is more likely is that the emergent experts in film arts were more or less ‘technicians’ favoring film’s function as language or social mediator. As Kracauer (1960) aptly noted, “The pervasive growth of technology has given birth to an army of technicians trained to supply and service the innumerable contrivances without which modern civilization cannot be imagined…the essence of all of them is tantamount to their function” (p. 292). He contrasted the ‘army of technicians’ with that of the artist since, “artists have a way of sensing and baring states of mind of which the rest of us are only dimly aware” (p. 294). This statement aligns itself with McLuhan’s (1988) declaration that, “artists are the antennae” of society (p. 6). I can only surmise in these statements that the difference between the expert technician and artist is precisely what ‘machines’ are incapable of possessing, namely, emotional awareness. By technician, I am also speaking of the merely ‘rational,’ which Damasio (1999) clearly showed through compelling evidence to be no less than a ‘technique’ or device for decision-making (such as the ability to perform a cost-benefit analysis). Individuals who have diminished emotional capacity due to brain lesions but are otherwise completely rational have shown to be stymied by decisions requiring emotional valence (i.e., values). Why this issue of expertise or what one may call relational authority is important extends to the problem an artist researcher faces when discerning between the varied theories that underpin film scholarship. That discernment is not just a matter of degree, it is central to an artist turned arts educational researcher. Whose expert view should the artist lean upon to help frame their understanding once turned art educator and researcher? Which expert can best support and deepen what one tacitly knows as an artist and teacher gained through the subjective 88 experiencing of art and teaching? The problem rests partly on whether the analyses based on theories of a ‘technical nature,’ which are often challenged by subjective experiences, are able to reach concomitance. And partly on the issue of the intent behind the expert, which can so easily be governed by ideology (i.e., utopian view). At any rate, the media and film expert, according to Anderson (2008), was made up of university scholarship and “founded upon the emergent authority of the human sciences…namely anthropology, psychology, sociology—disciplines whose application to practical tasks discursively produced various forms of modern expertise as so many sets of power relations, e.g., anthropologist/native, psychologist/patient, sociologist/deviant” (p. 39). Reading from the list, I wonder if not also scholar/artist could be added. The forces at play may well fit with Foucault’s view of “modern scientific disciplines” as “sites of power” (Anderson, 1985, p. 39) but, as noted, it is not limited to the scientific but to empirical disciplines at large. To complicate the problem of authority, while perusing the mission statements expressed by varying organizations on media literacy, for instance, in Canada as in the United States, it is the intent behind the expert that leaves one unsettled. It is difficult to determine which view prevails as a thread of continuity between early thinkers and which view deviates from that course of thinking and action. The Canadian Center for Media Literacy (CML), which is also part of the Alliance for a Media Literate America (AMLA), for instance, has established its authority while making the following statement, To become a successful student, responsible citizen, productive worker, or competent and conscientious consumer, individuals need to develop expertise with the increasingly sophisticated information and entertainment media that address us on a multi-sensory level, affecting the way we think, feel and behave. As if in response to some form of criticism, they adjoin this anti-media ‘disclaimer.’ Finally, while media literacy does raise critical questions about the impact of media and technology, it is not an anti-media movement. Rather, it represents a coalition of concerned individuals and organizations, including educators, faith- 89 based groups, health care-providers, and citizen and consumer groups, who seek a more enlightened way of understanding our media environment. Coinciding with the mission statement is also a statement in a section entitled, Values education, which expresses the following, The mass media are an ideal resource for the discussion of moral dilemmas, the development of moral reasoning, and the use of techniques such as values clarification. Dialogical reasoning, which has been described as an important part of critical thinking, can play a significant role in discussions of topics such as the pros and cons of the mass media, government control of media, censorship, advertising, and the moral values identified in popular television and films. Consult the bibliography in the ministry's resource guide Personal and Societal Values (Toronto: Ministry of Education, Ontario, 1983) for further information on values education. Based on the preceding, projects aimed toward media literacy contain important ideas, yet do not clarify who the expert is that is conducting research, influencing or making policies, directing educational curriculum, and forming pedagogical practices in response to our concern with images and sound. To a particularly keen observer of ideology, some clues are imbedded in the language used to describe their aim. For instance, a ‘values education’ statement carries very strong implications that normative values based on ‘moral’ grounds are being upheld. That a ‘values education’ is founded upon moral concerns may not come as a surprise given the long history of the role of religious thinkers with a deep commitment to educating the young. The trend for religious leaders in media education began by the 1920s with the aforementioned Reverend Short, followed in the 1960s with Father John Culkin, the latter appointed by Marshall McLuhan to become fellow at the University of Toronto's Centre for Culture and Technology and whose appointment was announced by McLuhan as having, “obtained the services of John Culkin, the film Jesuit, who is known throughout the world among film-makers and teachers.” And, finally, with the current Director of the Jesuit Communication 90 Project in Toronto, Father John J. Pungente, who “continues his main work of promoting Media Education across Canada.” Indeed, there have been many with religious convictions in Canada and the US laboring to promote film and media literacy, which has led me to wonder what may have been and continues to be their underlying motive. Moreover, whether they are supportive or resistant to film and new media in general, what steps have they taken to reach out to scientific research for further understanding? Given the conflict between religions and sciences, it is troubling to think that there is a very real possibility that science has not been part of the discourse and policies that concern the mass production of images, their latest developments and impact on the individual. Simply put, decision makers and the public require more than rhetoric or convictions that lean heavily on moral grounds. Finally, given the influences that religion has had on the field of media literacy in research and pedagogy, ought there be concern? In light of the long association between religion and education throughout history, it is tempting to view values education as solely being the providence of the religiously motivated, which inevitably raises concern in an era of the separation of state and religion. To be fair, however, moral reasoning is the capacity to judge and assign responsibility for actions taken—our own as much as another—which is not merely a religious concern. Moral reasoning, it may be argued, is part of being a responsible and judging human (Arendt, 2003). And the fact that religious and educational institutions have been the principle vehicles for delivering a moral-based education is perhaps something neuropsychology can bring to light without the century long polemics. The question that remains unanswered, however, is the distinctions in moral reasoning and whether there is room for a broader discourse. 91 Not every concerned investigator in media literacy or communication arts has held a notable religious background. For instance, communications guru Edgar Dale who published the 1933, How to appreciate motion pictures, which became the best-selling volume from out of the Payne Fund Studies, “pursued a program of film education in concert with Ohio State University and the National Council of Teachers of English.” In general, he appeared enthusiastic toward film after “commending a cannon of approved movies such as the adaptations of A tale of two cities, Great expectations, A midsummer nights dream, Anne of Green Gables, and so on” (Grieveson, 2008, p. 22). That sort of selective curriculum, however, has troubled film theorists (as much as it has literary theorists), since their aim was to study all films in order to deepen our understanding of the breadth and depth of human nature. Not merely works that uphold moral values but works that ‘teach’ us something about the nature of being human. The fact remains that educational film programs (i.e., viewing and critiquing) “were conceived as a way of destroying the mimetic effects of cinema” made possible with the list that Dale (1933) promoted as following from the “model of spectatorship advanced by the Payne Studies as a whole” (p. 22). Setting aside the notion of ‘mimetic effects,’ one can begin to surmise that Dale was governed by a moral code based on normative values and ‘common’ folk wisdom. Searching for a new direction Why should any of the foregoing matter? In light of the inexhaustible body of work on film studies found in books, trade magazines, and academic journals—in libraries and on the Internet—an historical perspective on motives and drives behind film research and study clearly demonstrates the importance of the subject of film. For complex social, psychological, and cultural reasons, film is not simply a fascination, but a cause for profound concern. Nonetheless, in light of the diversity of theories, which span more than a hundred years with no explanatory 92 whole, many theorists have abandoned any hope of achieving a grand theory of film (Smith, 2003). Whatever may be said of film today, many theorists are cautiously treading where once they spoke with definite assurance. This caution can be sensed across many fields of research, largely because the naive belief we once held, which was that science and technology would solve many complex human issues, has been thwarted by escalating concerns that have turned global and epidemic. Given the numerous technological calamities—principally rooted in physics, chemistry, and biology—we are slowly gaining a view of technology that it is best directed toward problems of logic, not problems with the kind of complexity that make up humans, cultures, and societies. As one sifts through the literature on film, one finds complex human themes that have been cycled through theories in psychology, sociology, politics, and economics—all manners in which humans have been entangled throughout history. The range of those complex themes— representation, meaning, subject formation, identification, ideology, agency, subjectivity, and authority—have been theorized anew under what appears as new conditions (e.g., modern or postmodern). Yet the same underlying motives and drives permeate new frameworks as the generation previous, namely, an emotionally laden logic imbued with values of ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ It is the ‘loop of logic’ that led Latour (1993) to make the claim that “we have never been modern.” Though he did not base this view on the study of emotions and values, Latour had a point. Nonetheless, without understanding the attached emotions and values imbedded in logic, we are bound to create an eternal loop of reasoning from which there is no escape. What we end up with are interminable descriptions of universal themes retold in particular ways. Of course, the descriptive always reaches a state of exhaustion before an explanation that would lead to a solution is ventured. In the area of film studies, an explanation began when Christian Metz 93 (1974) ventured to compare film with language. Dependent on emerging studies in structural and cognitive linguistics, Metz’ effort to explain film works were foiled by new film forms linked to new technologies in sound and photography. In essence, Metz’ theories underwent half a century of critique and although his work made a tremendous impact in film studies, his ideas were also both lauded and discredited due to the many descriptive examples of new film forms. As in the case of the novel, film explanations always faced an exception to the rule (Casetti, 1999). Had Metz read Bakhtin’s (1981) view of the novel, which has in common with film a form that is always in flux, he might have been able to envision the difficulty he was bound to encounter. The salience of technology is not merely an element of film works. Cosmology, mechanical physics, chemistry, and biology—have relied on two thousand years of mere descriptive understanding, with explanations deferred to philosophy. These were given explanatory depth through technologies capable of seeing macro and microelements. Neuroscience has also benefited from evolutions in technology. Given the limited manner in which the brain could be studied, descriptions in neuroscience seemed to be all that could be ventured for several hundred years, with explanations and solutions deferred to philosophy and psychology. Today, neurological explanations are being posited, which would lead to real solutions, because as Ramachandran (2004) expressed, scanning technologies—leading to designing better experiments—are giving us access to what lays inside the ‘black box.’ Through the countless efforts to describe phenomena in film, many have made speculative, rational explanations only to be displaced by the next, more eloquent interpretation. Quasi-experiments in psychology and sociology have loaned theoretical frameworks to film studies that tend toward isolating elements from the whole or reducing and simplifying complex mental processes and social interactions. In turn, those theories have been both simplified and conflated through film analyses (Smith, 2003). In film works, rather than the ‘brain peering into 94 the brain,’ as the frontier of neurology appears to lead us, we appear to have something made by the brain, which is yet entirely removed from the brain—something purely technological or artistic. Or is it? In truth, theories and analyses in film studies reflect areas of human concern that have changed little over the centuries and for which we have had little capacity to resolve (e.g., mimetic effects, identification, and subject formation). What remains is not better film analysis or a better way to penetrate technology, but to understand consciousness and the brain-mindbody problem because technology is a human expression of inquiry. Technology has brought us ever closer to the age-old, self-conscious question: Why are we here? Though not yet answerable, understanding consciousness and exploring mental processes from a holistic perspective (i.e., brain-mind-body) has taken our concern into new directions. Largely this is due to the fact that technologies are helping us to peer further into the brain as it has done into the heavens (Damasio, 1999; Ramachandran, 1998; Sacks, 2010). The embodied brain has appeared to us as a black box, which has prevented us from understanding its workings. Yet we are growing closer to capturing mental processes and in so doing, understanding human cognition, emotion, motivation, drives, and intent (Grodal, 2009). Reflecting on the urgent call to action Of the individuals world-wide now fully intoxicated with inexhaustible images, none have become so thoroughly drunk as children and youth whose estimated time spent in front of the television, Internet, and PDA’s (personal digital assistants) has lengthened and intensified beyond anyone’s expectations at the turn of the 21st century (Kaiser Family Foundation Study, 2010). This increased duration and intensity is difficult to explain in rational terms, making it increasingly difficult to curb the latest advances in imagery. Yet, through anecdotal reporting, one notes the concerns that have been raised as we move into the latest technological invention 95 in 3-D images. Not able to make conclusive statements as to the cause of such mental ‘disturbances,’ we are faced with only one option, namely, to reconsider what constitutes an image and its relationship with our brain-body. Putting this latest phenomenon into context makes our present world seem rather unique in the history of humankind. Our world is experiencing images in a manner unprecedented in human history, with innovations being introduced at an accelerated tempo with no sign of slowing down. From personal experience, I have seen that even in remote, impoverished regions of the world, audio-visual media are accessed via community resources with links to larger metropolises made possible by infrastructures in transportation, optic cables, and satellite. The idea of ‘remote locations’ has been forever altered. For anyone who aims toward ensuring a safe and healthy environment for children, there is much to consider. In what direction should this dramatic change take those whose concerns lay in children and youth as they grow, study, and mature into adulthood? Certainly interest in the education of the child is as varied as the fields of concentration aimed toward understanding the many facets that make us human. And every field hopes to contribute in meaningful ways to understand the pedagogical consequences to the psychological, emotional, social, intellectual, physical, and spiritual development of the child or youth as such. But the enormity of assembling such diverse views, with the hope of finding our way through the tide of initiatives in order to best serve our children and youth, seems almost inconceivable. It also feels that when we rush the decisions, we may cause further harm rather than good. In the ensemble of theories and methodologies, one may wonder, what are the avenues that can help position and guide educational researchers to better understand the course of knowledge in coming years with a little more circumspect? Is there time to be circumspective in such a sped-up environment? Clearly, film’s impact on children has been on people’s minds 96 since as early as 1909 (Grieveson & Wasson, 2008). Without wishing to overstate the points outlined thus far, the following brief account concludes that a century has not be sufficient in bringing us to conscious terms with the feeling of urgency that motivates and drives our research and policies. When Alice Miller Mitchell (1929) published her lengthy qualitative study, replete with statistics of children’s film “behaviors and attitudes,” her study drew the attention of educators, sociologists, and psychologists with interest in child behavior and dispositions, which in turn, prompted several published reviews. Naturally enough, each specialist took a different perspective on the study’s conclusion. Some were ‘positive’ in their critique. One pair of authors thought Mitchell’s study showed undeniably that, “All classes preferred movies to reading, but the delinquents more especially” (Bernard & Bernard, 1930, p. 127). One author considered the study “shows conclusively that attendance at motion-picture exhibitions is a regular experience with the vast majority of city children” (Freeman, 1930, p. 636). Others were significantly less positive. One attacked the methodology and conclusions, suggesting instead that, “This book is really a statistical collection of opinions…the interpretive sections all grow out of more or less common assumptions made by social workers, juvenile judges, recreation directors, and school authorities about the deleterious effects of the motion picture upon conduct” (Young, 1930, p. 307). Yet another indicated that, “What the data actually show is that all of the children are alike in preferring play to movies” (Peters, 1930, p. 207). Within such vast perspectives one can begin to detect a familiar debate that still centers then, as it does today, on the problem of epistemology and methodology. The knowledge digital ethnographic experts presently offer To update the debate that took place under a sense of urgency at the turn of the twentieth century, the following puts matters into a current context. In the words of digital ethnographer 97 and YouTube specialist Michael Wesch (2009), “This new media environment can be enormously disruptive to our current teaching methods and philosophies” (p. 1). Thus it would appear that our concerns carry the same threads of the early empirical film studies. But in what manner are new media environments disruptive? Is it contributing to youthful ‘delinquency’ as it was thought to do in Mitchell’s day? According to Wesch, this new virtual world, made up of images, sound and written text, is disrupting traditional schooling with “physical structures” designed for transmitting information, implacable “social structures” in the form of “standardized testing” that evaluates the degree to which information has been acquired, and “cognitive structures,” which has shifted a traditional understanding of space-time (pp. 1-2). Given Einstein’s concern with the indexical now and the enduring problems dividing physics from the human experience, one wonders just how our view of space-time has been altered, and whether Wesch can provide us with the answer. In a strange turn of events, however, according to Wesch, the ‘delinquents’ of today are researchers (i.e., faculty members) who wish to “subvert the system.” It is interesting how ‘delinquency’ has been recast. In Wesch’s view, it is not the youth who display deviant behavior from the norm, rather it is those scholars who also attempt to instruct through these new technologies. Understandably, the ubiquity of images and sound, as these exploded on the scene at the start of the 21st century, makes it difficult for many educators to sustain learning through ‘old’ traditional approaches. Perhaps there is a dual message in Wesch’s analysis. Perhaps his thoughts follow the sequence of causation that media has disrupted youth, which in turn now disrupts the system of education. In any case, taking his argument at face value, the disruption of which he speaks appears to be between traditional and new forms of teaching and learning. By consequence, he is 98 part of the new vanguard of scholars repositioned to promote new media and, along with it, new approaches to research and pedagogy. But one does not get the sense that this promotion is in favor of a new generation finding their voice and generating critical views. Wesch’s ethnographic work, particularly on the development of YouTube, suggests something of the old ‘authoritarian’ spirit remains. For instance, Wesch is not unlike the intellectual elite of the past who saw the rapid change in our environment as requiring experts poised to be able to mediate or manage (perhaps control) the learning of children and youth. We are thus, immediately thrown back to a time when it was thought necessary to create a particular kind of expert, namely film or media scholar, able to interpret the physical, social, and mental change and to translate this for those unable to make the shift. As an arts educator, more inclined to explore collaborative processes with learners that lead to critical and creative thinking, the expert presence becomes a misplaced interpretation of the role of the pedagogue. Thus, it is interesting to note that, then as now, ethnographers are positioned at the front lines to offer us convincing views, for instance, Wesch’s popular 2002 YouTube video: The machine is us/ing us. There is something disconcerting, perhaps even disingenuous, about a digital ethnographer using digital video to persuade us. Curiously, my university students have picked out a subtext in his videos that counter his main text—one that they feel is manipulative (the author, that is, not the medium as Wesch had hoped to show). I do not wish to suggest Wesch has consciously set out to promote his ideas through devious means, rather, it is clear that the use of video carries ethical implications in a research context aimed to defining and explaining the medium of video. I would expect no less metaawareness of a written context. What would be the point behind the study of language if not to acquire an understanding of its ethical use in society? In anthropology, ethical concerns of this 99 kind dates back to the uses of photograph and documentary film—a history that made many anthropologists wary of tampering or ‘staging’ visual and aural data (Barnouw, 1993). Aside from ethics, what is curious is that my students gave a critical ‘reading’ of the video independent of any comments from me. Some researchers would have said that their competency to read a video is a result of highly developed language skills. In this statement one would assume that language is the optic through which to understand film. Yet, according to my personal observations, the fact is that whether the viewers are made up of university students or youth with ‘low’ literacy rates, all viewers demonstrate the ability to ‘read’ video critically. This phenomenon, which was illustrated so well at the end of Rouch’s 1960 film, Chronicle of a Summer, a broad swath of individuals are able to critically ‘read’ moving images (Rouch, 2003). This well known fact continues to elude film theorists and researchers. Due to the type of resistance shown by first year undergraduate students toward accepting film analyses as they are presented in the classroom, many film educators, analysts and theorists will contend that the depth of reading depends on the level of filmic knowledge. But that kind of bias only reinforces an authoritative view that cannot easily account for creative or logical conclusions made by ‘naïve’ readers. Moreover, the capacity to read ‘virtual’ moving images appears to entail certain ‘competencies’ similar to language, which point to cognitive processes. Those mental processes, however, leave out the ‘social’ processes involved in communication since both filmic and written texts do not have a communication ‘back-and-forth.’ This confusing state of affairs questions both the expert views of film ethnographers and cognitive film theorist to explain social and structural phenomena as occurring in a film context. 100 The knowledge communication experts presently offer Besides ethnographers, there are other experts on the front lines of study offering slightly different views. Media and communication theorist, Henry Jenkins (2006) outlines, “three concerns [that] suggest the need for policy and pedagogical intervention.” The first of these current concerns is what he calls the “participation gap,” whereby all youth are not fully prepared for “participation in the world of tomorrow.” Second, “the transparency problem,” which “challenges young people…to see clearly the ways that media shape perceptions of the world” And third, “an ethics challenge,” which is felt in the “breakdown of traditional forms of professional training and socialization that might prepare young people for their increasing public roles as media makers
UBC Theses and Dissertations
The neuroscience of movement, time and space : an arts educational study of the embodied brain LaMonde, Anne-Marie R. 2011
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