Jail House Rock’s NCBIS!
In Key Stage 4, the students have 3 scheduled ‘Learning for Life’ half day sessions built into the calendar and spread out over the year. The focus of these sessions is to give the students experiential education in areas of learning outside of the standard GCSE curriculum. Learning for Life is centered around ideas, concepts and subjects taught at IB level with a view to allowing the students to gain insight into IB, as well as challenging them to develop knowledge and skills in line with the IB learner profile.
On Tuesday 30th January the Year 10 students had their second of three of these ‘Learning for Life’ half days. The focus of this session was to explore the concepts of ‘Identity’ and ‘Authority’, specifically looking at them from a psychological viewpoint and their effect on human behaviour. To initially explore this, the students took part in a replication of a famous psychological experiment created by the professor and psychologist Philip Zimbardo. His experiment ‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’ gained criticism and notoriety at the time due to its controversial ethics.
Basically, the experiment involved an attempt to investigate the psychological effects of perceived power, focusing on the struggle between prisoners and prison officers. It was conducted in a converted basement at Stanford University using college students. Guards and prisoners had been chosen randomly from the volunteering college students. Some participants developed their roles as the officers and enforced authoritarian measures. Many of the prisoners became passive and receptive to instructions. The whole exercise was abandoned after six days despite being planned to continue for 2 weeks owing to the decreasing welfare of the participants.
The students did a wonderful job of playing these roles, and because no prior information was given to them, many experienced similarities to the original study (one group of prisoners even tried to stage a rebellion against the guards). This was primarily due to the power of the social situation and to their perceived roles, thereby making the process a worthwhile learning experience. In the afternoon the students researched the original study, Zimbardo himself and 4 of the key concepts that were derived from the research. They eloquently related this to their experiences in the ‘mock prisons’ and made astute links to why this research is important, and can be seen, in the real world. All of the Year 10 students did a wonderful job and thoroughly impressed us with the quality of their presentations and depth of learning. Well done Year 10!!
Mr. Rossall – Head of Key Stage 4