Walden Two | Study Guide

B. F. Skinner

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Walden Two | Chapter 12 | Summary

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Summary

Frazier takes the group on a tour of the children's building, starting with the nursery. They meet Mrs. Nash, who is in charge. The infants are kept in temperature-controlled, enclosed cubicles like aquariums. She explains the reasoning behind the cubicles, which has to do with efficiency and preventing infection. Clothing and bedding are not used because, according to Nash and Frazier, the babies are more comfortable without them. Castle is critical of the clinical manner in which the children are treated. Mrs. Nash and Frazier assure him and the group the children receive plenty of affection.

Analysis

The cubicles are interesting in that they echo the "air cribs" Skinner experimented with when raising his own child. Castle's objections are clearly included to voice concerns readers might have with such treatment of infants. Castle is the most vocal in his criticisms of the nursery, but Mrs. Nash and Frazier are confident and unperturbed by his questions. Nonetheless, it is apparent the nursery is the initial point of conditioning for the community. Control is so tight the parents are not allowed visiting rights if they are ill. Indeed, parents have little input into the raising of the infants. Castle's distaste for the use of such a controlled environment for the infants stems from the fact he is witnessing behavior modification in an overt manner. The infants are of course devoid of choice in the matter, but this is exactly why the process is important. The children raised in this manner will know of no other life and will more readily conform to the Walden Two lifestyle.

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