The primary purpose of this website is to document and separate fact from fiction about the original experiment. As the story is told and re-told, reported and fictionalized, carried in the news and blogged on the internet, it is becoming more difficult to learn what really happened. There has also been more information available recently from the original students, and that has been very helpful in sorting things out. This is intended to be a comprehensive and current collection of material and news, mostly from original sources.
It is also the purpose here to provide additional material for the discussion of this dark and never-ending side of human nature. In today's confused and chaotic world, it seems that polarization, persecution, political and religious extremism, cults, gangs and bullying are as prevalent as ever. The risks and stakes have never been higher, and this lesson is needed now more than ever.
This website is managed and overseen by original participants in The Third Wave experiment, and will contain the latest news of our activities, along with the most complete and accurate information about our experience. We hope you find it helpful in your research and studies.
History of the Wave Story
The original experiment was named "The Third Wave" and occurred at Cubberley Senior High School in Palo Alto, California, in March/April 1967. Teacher Ron Jones wrote a short story about the experience that was published in spring 1976. This was followed by a TV movie ("The Wave") by famed producer Norman Lear on October 4, 1981. The subsequent 1981 book "The Wave" is a novelization of the Lear movie, and was written by Todd Strasser (aka Morton Rhue). This book is widely read by students in schools throughout the world. In spring 2008, German director Dennis Gansel's popular film "Die Welle" set the story in a high school in present-day Germany. There have also been various Wave plays and musicals performed over the years, and a new musical by original teacher Ron Jones debuted in March 2010, as well as his new play "The Third Wave" in 2011. On October 10, 2010, Emmy nominee and original Third Wave class member Philip Neel's new documentary of the original experiment, entitled "Lesson Plan", premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival. New accounts are emerging from original Third Wave students. There are also periodic rumors that Hollywood will produce a new Wave film for theaters, especially given the recent success of the German film. This is all outlined in more detail on the Stories page, and further examined in the FAQ pages. There is also a chronology page of early articles.
Lessons from The Wave
The Wave story is a simple one, but an excellent means to facilitate discussion about very sensitive and difficult subjects: the rise of the Nazis and other totalitarian societies and the atrocities they perpetrate, the psychology of leaders and followers, when passion for one's cause leads to intolerance and persecution of others, extremist political and religious groups, cults, gangs, bullying, etc. Quotes, traits, terminology, and other information are explored on the Lessons page.
Online Wave Museum
While very little remains from the original Third Wave experiment, more material is surfacing as former students have been located. Photos of the classroom, articles in the school newspaper, a report card from the class, party membership cards, Third Wave posters, some class notes and handouts, etc. have been discovered. There are also interesting materials from the subsequent films, books, plays and musicals. These are shown or linked via the Museum page.
News and Links
The News and Links page includes leads to current and past articles, where useful material may be found to learn more about the history and evolution of the story.
We hope you find this website helpful. We welcome comments on this website, new questions for the FAQ's, and are always looking for more stories from original Third Wave students and items to share in the "museum." We are also available to meet with your school or organization. Click Here for contact information
Thank you to our many visitors and supporters around the world !
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