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Case Study: The Wild Boy of Aveyron

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 14 May 2008

In 1800, 12-year-old Victor emerged from the woods of the Aveyron District, naked and behaving like an animal. It was estimated that he had been living wild since the age of about four.

Doctor Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard devised a revolutionary programme of training for the boy, which met with partial success. The story is repeatedly quoted in the nature-nurture controversy, but it provides no conclusive proof either way. As with all case studies, it can be used to defend different theories. Nevertheless, many still benefit from Victor's legacy, as children with learning difficulties and others, especially those in Montessori nurseries, are taught by the method of hands-on play devised by Itard.


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