The Wave: “Research the original story”

The movie ‘The wave’ is based on a true story that occurred at Cubberely High School, Palo Alto, California. The point of the wave was to experiment and to demonstrate how a typical democratic society can be ‘fascism’. This experiment was performed by Ron Jones; his stage name in the movie was Mr Wegner. Both men were well-known as history teachers and this experiment was introduced as a trial in April 1967 and went horribly wrong. As he failed to get his point across in class, he decided to try an experiment.

This experiment began by starting the group called ‘The Third Wave’ in his history class; he told the students that the whole point of it was to remove democracy. Ron Jones tried explaining why the Jews were lead to their death; these deaths were committed by the Germans/Nazi (holocaust). Ron Jones’s main point that he appointed was “Strength through discipline, strength through community, strength through action, strength through pride”. The students soon realised that Democracy puts stress on individuality, which later made these students more interested to remove it from their group ‘The Third Wave’.

On the first day of the experiment the group was just going through some ground rules and having discussion. The experiment only intended on being a one day thing but the students were drawn in and wanted to make this over a week. The second day was going over discipline, and this is when the name ‘The Third Wave’ came into it. The name “The Third Wave”, mis-stating the mythical belief that the third in a series of ocean waves is last and largest (which comes from a traditional sailors’ saying that the ninth wave is the largest, as recited in Tennyson’s The Coming of Arthur).

They ended the day by inventing a salute, which was to resemble the topic of the Nazi regime, and how to obey the leader and his commands. To show respect to the ‘leader’ the students had to stand if a question was raised. By the third day more students were moving to Ron Jones class, the class expanded from 30 students to 43. The students were improving on their academic skills and their attitude towards school. The students became attached to the group ‘The third Wave’ when they were given a members card and all got a task given to complete.

The students felt like they belonged to something, many for the first time in their lives. By the end of the day ‘The Third wave’ had over 200 members. Ron Jones was amazed by the commitment and motivation from the students. The students started taking the experiment seriously and students started reporting others when rules were being broken, By Thursday Ron Jones had decided to stop the movement due to it slipping out of his control. The students became so attached; emotionally and physically, this became an issue.

Ron Jones announced to the group that the movement was a part of a nationwide movement, and that on the following day a selected member of the wave would announce publicly the existence of ‘The Third Wave’. Ron jones made it clear to all students, that the attendance of the meeting held the next day was compulsory. In the meeting that was held on the Friday, Ron Jones announced to ‘The Third Wave’ that they had actually taken part in a fascism group without even knowing. He explained to them, how easy it is to turn a democracy society into fascism without the students even being aware of their actions.

He then followed by showing a movie about the Nazi regime, the students then realised that the groups’ attitude was a lot like the Nazi’s attitude and that Democracy is extremely important. In the movie and books it suggests that Ron Jones was arrested but in fact he wasn’t, he was just fired from the job 2 years later. Ron Jones didn’t expect the experiment to get so out of hand. The story line of ‘The Third Wave’ caught the eye of many film writers and authors; later on it became a much more dramatic storyline.

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