Between the years 1961 and 1963, Albert Bandura, the David Starr Jordan Professor in Psychology at Stanford University conducted a series of experiments to prove that children learn to model their behavior by imitating the actions of the people around them, and their learning about an action is highly influenced by the reward or punishment of that particular action. For the experiment, Bandura and his team used a Bobo doll, which is an inflated figurine with weight placed at the bottom to keep it upright, and a clown painted on the front. The children were divided into three groups where –

  • The first group was exposed to an adult being physically aggressive toward the Bobo doll
  • The second group was exposed to adults calmly playing with toys
  • The third group was a neutral group that wasn’t exposed to either scenario

It was found that –

  • the group that was exposed to violent behavior by the adults tended to react violently in disagreeable situations.
  • The group that was exposed to adults calmly playing coped with the disagreeable situation by diverting their attention to another activity.
  • The third group portrayed their natural behavior which could be violent or impassive.

What can we learn from the Bobo Doll Experiment?

The biggest learning of the Bobo Doll experiment is that children can learn social behavior such as aggression through the process of observation learning, by watching the behavior of another person. Furthermore, in the right environment, children can be taught how to control their aggression and modify their behavior.

Open school for environment attuned to child’s need

If a child is unable to adjust to conventional school due to uncontrollable aggression or behavioral impulses, then open school alternatives provided by the National Institute of Open School (NIOS) will be a better fit for them. Through the NIOS curriculum, a student can opt for home schooling or open school alternatives where learning pace and pedagogy can be adjusted.

Most open school facilities have specially trained teachers to work with children with special needs. The teacher-student ratio is also smaller so that individualised attention can be given to students. At the same time, students will be attending classes and doing activities in a cohort which will aid their social development.

The needs of students

A school is a place where students learn subject-related information and also learn to live and function in society independently, outside the supervision of their families. For students who have behavioral issues, an open school curriculum and school structure create an environment that will help them ease into society and bear the social norms. The team of behavioral psychologists, counselors, and specially trained teachers who study behavioral habits and coping mechanisms can help the students learn to navigate issues that disturb them. they form a support system for families, providing them with insights on how to deal with unprecedented situations.

What do open schools do differently?

Education aims to enable every child to fulfill their aspirations and reach their potential. By exposing the students to challenges and positive reactions children are trained to cope with all kinds of situations. The school establishes a routine and they lay great emphasis on it. The teachers work towards earning the child’s trust and creating a safe space for them. The pedagogy aims to ensure that the behavioral expectations reflect the behavioral abilities of the child. This is where the low student-teacher ratio helps. The schools have spaces for time out where the child goes away from the group to calm down and get back their equilibrium or where they can socialise with their peer group without adult intervention.

With timely intervention and addressing issues with the child in a focused manner, they can be trained to cope with the rigours of functioning in an uncertain environment and larger society.


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