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Wild Child

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Autor:   •  November 18, 2010  •  906 Words (4 Pages)  •  759 Views

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From the diaries of Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard, The Wild Child is a movie made in 1970, with a setting in France from the18th century, and based on a child who had lived in nature his whole life without any human contact. Itard, a well known French doctor for working with deaf-mutes, had taken in this feral child under his care for the purposes of his studies on the child's intellectual and social education. Given the time period of the movie Itard had taken the "wild-child" in under his own care, and helped teach the child to be more civilized, even though he went against the beliefs of how mentally retarded children were to be taken care of during the 18th century. Although most of the medical doctors who had been in contact with the feral child felt that he, who could not speak, and exhibited violent behavior to others, was mentally retarded and proved to have no hope for becoming civilized. Itard had proven them wrong using both positive and negative reinforcement techniques that helped the "wild-child" improve drastically and become more civilized. Having the ability to teach a mentally retarded child who had not been exposed to civilization was one of the main messages of both the movie and also one of Itard's main goals. Although succeeding at many techniques that he had done with the "wild-child" ranging from identifying everyday objects, dressing on his own, writing words, to spelling words, he still believed he was unsuccessful due to the fact that the child had not been able to speak more than one word. The way Itard had taken care of this "wild-child" may not be valid according to today's society, but during the 18th century Itard had done more than expected for this mentally retarded child. "In the early 1800's education was primarily given to the wealthy Anglo-Saxon children, and

educators were not exposed to the diversity of children that they were soon going to be faced with." (2) Children were mainly taught in the home or in a single room schoolhouse; therefore, children of limited mental capability were not likely to be schooled. "In 1852 the start of mandatory education had evolved, and also the increasing number of immigrants who had had diverse social and cultural backgrounds, as well as something the educators of the previous, homogenous schools had not been forced to deal with." (3) Many of these children showed signs of various learning, developmental, physical, and an emotional/behavioral problem, which is what Itard had to deal with trying to help civilize the "wild-child". Although Itard had succeeded at many tasks with the "wild-child" his reputation had begun to disappear due to the fact that he had not succeeded in helping the child speak. Not being exposed to language at an early age in life is one of the main factors that contribute to the wild-child not being able to speak. According to it crucial that children are exposed to language at the early stages of life. It is thought to believe that if a child is not exposed to language during these early critical times then the child will never be able to develop language skills. The "wild-child" had displayed this certain disability, but according to the movie and the book Itard had succeeded in having the child say milk in French. I had seen


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