Advertisement

Educating the Retarded

  • Ruth Macklin
  • Willard Gaylin
Part of the The Hastings Center Series in Ethics book series (HCSE)

Abstract

In 1798, a young man who had apparently grown to physical maturity in the wild, without human companionship, suddenly appeared in a French town. Jean Jacques Rousseau’s concept of the “noble savage” was popular at the time, and the young man caused great interest. Adjudged retarded, he was given the name Victor and at first placed under the care of the physician, Phillipe Pinel, who specialized in mental disorders. Pinel, however, held the view that “idiocy” was incurable, and the French government subsequently allowed Jean Marc Itard to try to educate Victor. This effort was the first documented attempt at the education of a mentally retarded individual. Itard, who was aware of John Locke’s ideas concerning the intellect as a storehouse, went on to develop the first self-help activities for the retarded. He made skillful use of a system of rewards for performance—a form of positive reinforcement, as it would be called today. Although he had some success with Victor, the young man’s lack of speech development hampered Itard’s work with him. It is unfortunately impossible to judge whether, in today’s terminology, Victor would be called culturally deprived, emotionally disturbed, or just mentally retarded.

Keywords

Retarded Child Special Classroom Retarded Individual Retarded Person Retarded Adult 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 2.
    E. Goffman, Asylums (Chicago: Aldine, 1961)Google Scholar
  2. B. Blatt and F. Kaplan, Christmas in Purgatory (Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1966)Google Scholar
  3. M. S. Sargen, “Labeling and Classification,” in M. Kindred, J. Cohen, D. Penrod, and T. Shaffer, eds., The Mentally Retarded Citizen and the Law (New York: Free Press, 1976)Google Scholar
  4. P. M. Wald, “Basic Personal and Civil Rights,” in M. Kindred, J. Cohen, D. Penrod, and T. Shaffer, eds., The Mentally Retarded Citizen and the Law (New York: Free Press, 1976).Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    R. A. Burt, “Beyond the Right to Habilitation,” in M. Kindred, J. Cohen, D. Penrod, and T. Shaffer, eds., The Mentally Retarded Citizen and the Law (New York: Free Press, 1976).Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    W. J. Cagelka and J. L. Tyler, “Efficacy of Special Class Placement,” Training School Bulletin 67 (1970): 33–68.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    J. Gan, A. T. Tymchuck, and A. Nishihara, “Mildly Retarded Adults: Their Attitudes toward Retardation,” Mental Retardation, 15 (1977): 5–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 6.
    J. M. Horrobin and J. E. Rynders, To Give an Edge (Minneapolis: Colwell Press, 1972).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Hastings Center 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Macklin
    • 1
  • Willard Gaylin
    • 2
  1. 1.Albert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA
  2. 2.The Hastings CenterHastings-on-HudsonUSA

Personalised recommendations