As a followup to last week’s post of psychologist Lester Beck’s Photographic Studies in Hypnosis we bring you more of Beck’s film footage. The above film, Human Growth, was produced in 1947 under Beck’s guidance as an introduction to human reproduction for American students. The film is described as follows:
The “Oregon film” was the first film about human reproduction to be shown in U.S. public schools. It was written by Dr. Lester F. Beck, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, and produced by Eddie Albert Productions. Sy Wexler directed and shot the film. The film was sponsored by the E.C. Brown Trust, a non-profit foundation associated with the University of Oregon since 1939, whose mission was to promote healthy sexuality and family life. Intended for seventh grade students, HUMAN GROWTH was seen by millions of schoolchildren in 20 countries, and won numerous awards. At its height of popularity, there were 2,000 prints in circulation, although only a handful currently exist. Two subsequent editions were released in 1962 and 1976.
Human Growth approaches its sensitive subject in a calm, facts-based manner. It demonstrates how families and classrooms can discuss sex openly and without embarrassment. Boys and girls are not segregated, and there is no moralizing. The film also models good pedagogical methods and exemplified how it should be used in actual classrooms. In the film, junior high students watch a film called “Human Growth” and the teacher leads them in discussion before and after the film. “Every single aspect of a film being made must have an educational purpose ultimately related to the classroom so that the film will aid the teacher, but never substitute for him,” Dr. Beck wrote in a 1964 article.
The film won every national and international award for documentary film, including the Golden Eagle Award from the Committee on International Non-theatrical Events (CINE). Thousands of schools from all over the United States and 20 countries worldwide adopted the film, with widespread approval from parents and teachers.