How Did The Behavior Window Come to Be?

dr thomas gordon behavior windowWell, we’re glad you asked. Dr. Thomas Gordon created the Behavior Window in 1962. He was interviewed by a colleague about how he came up with the concept and here’s what he shared—it’s pretty cool to know the history!

One morning I was in the kitchen drinking a second cup of coffee, staring blankly out a window where I could see a couple kids playing basketball in my neighbor’s driveway. I’ve been a basketball fan for years, a Lakers season ticket holder when I still lived in Pasadena. I began noticing that the kids were really quite adept at the game, deadly jump shooters and clever ball handlers.

Just as I was thinking these thoughts the ball got away from them and bounced toward my driveway and a newly planted flowerbed that separated their drive from mine. Suddenly, I was anxious and stood up so I could look down the drive to see whether my flowers would be trampled. But the boys were careful and got the ball without damaging a single plant and I saw that they were as adept at retrieval as they were basketball. What a relief! I sat back down and finished my coffee.

It was about a 20-minute drive to the office and as I maneuvered through morning traffic I reflected on the scene outside my kitchen window. I’d often heard people talking about having an experience they called an epiphany, a sudden revelation, and I suppose that’s what I experienced that morning. Without even thinking about it I suddenly realized that my kitchen window was the model I’d been looking for. I watched the kids play through the top pane of the window and I liked what I saw, had what in those days we called “positive vibes”.

Ah, but then the ball got away from the boys and bounced toward my flowerbed. In order to see where it went I had to stand up and look down at the flowerbed through the bottom pane of the window. I was worried, afraid my newly planted flowers would be trampled. But they weren’t and I could relax. I had my model, a window.

When I got to the office I settled behind my desk and began drawing pictures of windows. It took a couple days to get it just right but when I was satisfied with it I called a staff meeting and presented the window schema for their reactions. I explained the window then they offered suggestions, things I hadn’t thought of, and generally approved the concept.

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