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The PRESIDENT said that in new investigations of this kind it was the first step that was the most difficult to make. It was very satisfactory that this first step had been made by a person so singularly well qualified as Mrs. Bryant, who, as was well known, had gained one of those rarely earned and highly prized degrees of Doctor of Science at the London University, on the ground of her proficiency in mental science. Mrs. Bryant also had large experience in practical education. We could therefore be sure that a person who had the precise gifts needed to carrying on these investigations successfully would make sure advance. He was an optimist in respect to this inquiry, seeing that much had been really accomplished, and that we could hardly stand still, but must advance, and he did not see any boundary that certainly would limit that advance.
Mr. SULLY thought Mrs. Bryant's paper extremely suggestive. He had little to offer in the way of criticism, but would confine himself to throwing out one or two ideas that had occurred to him in listening to the paper. He was particularly struck with the way in which Mrs. Bryant had been able to distinguish between the two factors in observation, seeing what is directly present to the eye and interpreting what is seen. He thought her experiment might appropriately be followed by others specially designed to test each of these factors separately. Thus, the strictly visual capacity might be investigated by presenting objects having the minimum of suggestiveness, that is to say, perfectly definite but unerring forms, such as could be constructed by an arbitrary arrangement of lines. This would test the power of seeing finely, accurately, and rapidly. The other, or interpretative factor, would perhaps be best estimated by sketchy drawings of the human figure, landscape, and so forth, where just enough of concrete form is present to excite the imagination, and at the same time to offer unlimited scope for a varied constructive activity. Such an experiment would serve to bring to light the difference in children's power of taking sense hints, as they might be called, or of creating whole objects, or scenes, out of the scantiest data of sense impressions.
Mr. F. STORR welcomed Mrs. Bryant's paper as a sign that practical teachers were not only aware that psychology was an essential part of their training, but also beginning to co-operate with psychologists, and furnish them with observations on which to build. He criticised Mrs. Bryant's experiment as too ambitious, attempting, as it did, to test at once the powers of observation, retentiveness, and imagination. He referred to certain tests proposed by Mr. C. H. Lake, the first Secretary of the Education Society, by which it was attempted to determine quantitively at any given time a child's faculties, as distinguished from knowledge and method, which are gauged by ordinary examinations. He called on Mr. Sully and other psychologists present to set school
J. JACOBS.—The Comparative Distribution of Jewish Ability. 351
masters definite work of this kind, and promised, as a schoolmaster, to do the best to carry out their instructions.
Mr. CARVETH READ expressed his appreciation of Mrs. Bryant's paper, both for its general conception and the method of marking it out. He would only suggest that the scheme of such experiments might be extended by keeping a record of the mental characteristics of children at different ages, and especially of the same children year by year. We might then learn at what ages, on the average, different faculties of observation, imagination, reasoning, became conspicuous, and in what degrees and proportions, and so regulate education as to begin the training of these faculties severally at the most favourable times. It would also be interesting to know whether the same general mental character persisted from year to year, or changed; in what proportion of cases early mental promise was fulfilled; at what ages changes of mental balance were to be looked for. If the studies preferred by children excelling in certain faculties were recorded, we might perhaps infer that such studies were fitted to train those faculties.
The following paper was then read by the author :
The COMPARATIVE DISTRIBUTION of JEWISH ABILITY.'
By JOSEPH JACOBS, Esq., B.A.
[WITH PLATE XV.]
In a previous communication to this Institute I laid before it all the information I could collect as to the racial characteristics of modern Jews, their vital statistics, and bodily measurements. At the same time I expressed my belief that it would be possible to estimate with some degree of precision their intellectual ability as compared with that of other Europeans, and I promised to give this comparison on some future occasion. I shall endeavour to redeem that promise in the following pages. In doing so I find myself in face of two difficulties. The first was to discover a method of measuring ability. The heights of Jews can be calculated easily enough, their vital statistics need only to be collected from the bureaux of Europe. But who shall measure a man's mind so as to compare it with that of others? It was necessary to find some method that would give definite
Parts of this paper were read before the Aberdeen Meeting of the British Association.
2 "Journ. Anthrop. Inst.," August, 1885.