Columbia University and the Mechner Foundation
Francis Mechner received his doctorate in 1957 from Columbia University under Professors F. S. Keller and W. N. Schoenfeld, and continued on the teaching faculty until 1960. He did much of his work on the behavioral analysis of aesthetics during his years at Columbia.
In 1961 he developed an instructional technology based on behavioral analysis, which he then used to create instructional programs for high schools, medical schools, teaching hospitals, and industry. Under a federal contract, he led the establishment of a prototype Job Corps Training Center for a nationwide network of such centers. In 1968 Mechner founded and operated the first Paideia School. In 1970 he participated in the original design of Sesame Street with the Children’s Television Workshop. With support from the U.S. Dept. of HEW he created educational daycare systems for four states, and testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in support of the Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1971. With endorsement from the OECD, several countries, including Brazil, implemented Mechner’s manpower development technology.
Besides his analysis of aesthetic phenomena, Mechner’s work has included: laboratory research on operant behavior and resurgence; development of a formal symbolic language for codifying behavioral contingencies; founding and operating innovative schools; and a continuing R&D program in educational technology.