Originally posted: Sun, 20 Jun 2004 10:00:55
by Nathan H. Azrin
You can tell what we're about to start doing. This is not a book that I picked up with enthusiasm, but shortly after I began reading it, I became engrossed. After all, it outlines a methodology, and I'm fascinated by methodologies of all shapes.
Like most methodologies, this one is at its core quite simple. Based on learning theory and validated by empirical studies, the approach works by modeling, repetition, and validation. I can't speak yet to its effectiveness -- we implement it in a few weeks -- but I fervently hope it lives up to its claims.
Now for a little cultural commentary. The book was published in 1974 and uses a style that would be quite comfortable in 1954 -- heavily dependent on housewives' testimonies in the first chapter and heavily didactic in later chapters. The text and illustrations inevitably show the training as being implemented by the wife, with the father being regulated to the role of exemplar and validator. The illustrations were a bit startling to me: thirty years ago I suppose that couples bore children earlier, but the mothers depicted seemed to be at most 19 years old. Children having children, I thought. And it seemed to me that the reader is sometimes treated as not more advanced than a child. In the narrative at the end, for instance, the mother gains the respect of her neighbor and the book describes in great detail the immense pleasure she gained from this. Something tells me the child isn't the only one being trained and validated.
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