Изображения страниц

I cannot recall a single case in which the Binet and Simon tests have helped me to determine that a child was mentally defective when I was in doubt before, and I cannot conceive of any experienced doctor deciding that a child is mentally defective in the usually accepted sense of the term, viz., that it stands in need of special control, protection, segregation, or the like, on the evidence of the Binet and Simon tests alone. In short, where the Binet and Simon tests are not superfluous they are ineffectual.

It is not that the tests elaborated by Binet and Simon and developed by their followers are altogether useless in judging of mental deficiency, but the usefulness is indirect and unexpected. The various questions afford convenient and standardized headings or openings for conversation, in the course of which one can form one's conclusions. As such, high praise must be accorded to them. Each year from 3-10 has a set of five questions assigned to it, which children of average ability should be able to answer. There is a further similar set for age 12, and another for age 15. Up to age 10 the subject matter of the questions is skilfully restricted to non-scholastic things which European and American children-and indeed children of nearly every stage of culture or civilization--could not but be familiar with. Such things are the child's own self and the parts of its body, the main and obvious divisions of time-night and day, morning and afternoon -&c., perceived indifferences of weight and of length, simple counting, simple colours, simple manipulation, such as copying a square, &c. At and after age 12 the questions become scholastic and not distinguishable from school exercises; here practice would tell and the crammer ” might win precarious triumphs.

But even normal children cannot always be graded like pebbles thrown on a sieve, and this Binet and Simon themselves found out. A certain number of children insisted on answering not only the questions for their proper age, but also some of those ahead. These children could not fairly be lumped with those who only answered their proper set, and the following rule was devised : First find the age level at which the child passes all the tests, and then add another year for every five questions he can answer belonging to later years. Thus if a child of 7 passes all the tests of age 7, three of those of age 8, and two for age 9, he is said to have a mental age of 8 years. This artificiality, it must be confessed, disheartens one.

But my objection to the Binet and Simon tests in connection with mental defect does not rest only on the precarious nature of the apparatus. We must steadily refuse to be bound to any mechanical devices whatsoever in making our decisions. There is a story told, I think, of Sir Robert Christison that he was once asked by a judge in court for his definition of insanity. “ As to that,” he said, “I have none, but if you will point out anyone in this court, I will undertake to say whether I think him insane.” This is the only spirit in which it is safe to approach the detection of the mentally deficient. We must have no prejudices such as all definitions imply; there must be no mechanical counting up of marks, but simply a wide knowledge of and sympathy with the normal. No one can possibly judge wisely of mental deficiency in childhood who has forgotten his own nursery experiences, or has not 'revived them by mixing with children on more or less equal terms as a teacher does, especially a born teacher.

All this care to avoid the mechanical and the merely technical seems to be implicit in the definitions of the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913. A careful study of these definitions leaves one with the impression that no child is to be deemed mentally defective under the Act but such as (1) have exhibited their “abnormality" since birth or early age, and (2) are "abnormal” in such a way that (a) they need supervision for their own protection or that of others, or in the case of children that (in consequence of their abnormality) (b) they appear permanently incapable of receiving proper benefit from the instruction in ordinary schools. But all these points can be settled by observant common sense if only time enough is allowed; it needs no skilled physician.

As a result of experiments on normal children in Staffordshire schools, I have come to the conclusion that the attempt to sift children into their yearly groups by means of any set of simple questions gives a fictitious sense of precision; nor is a grouping by years really necessary for the purpose of estimating mental defect. The following series of questions have been constructed out of the Binet and Simon lists, and seem to serve all practical purposes. The child is put

, through the whole of this paper, and the inspector is then able to say that a child has a mentality of " about normal age 3,” or a mentality of “between 3 and 6,” or is a poor 9,” &c. Even when the tests are thus simplified, no school doctor should presume to use them for estimating mental defect who has not repeatedly practised them on normal children. The manner of the normal child's answering is quite as distinctive of his normality as his formal success in passing the tests. The results of the testing should invariably be compared with the head teacher's classification of the child according to school standards.

BINET AND SIMON'S TESTS (1911). Name.....

Age... School..........

Date.. (With Class or Standard).

3 YEARS. 1. What is your name? 2. Show me your eyes, nose, &c. 3. What is this in the picture ? (man, cat, &c.). 4. Say after me : (two numbers). 5. Say after me : (fve logically connected words).

At this age few children can answer “Are you a boy or girl ?” or name any but the most obvious and familiar objects, as in question 3 (c.g., will not name knife, penny, key, &c.).

6 Years. 1. Which is the longer of these two strips of paper ? (15 in. and 2 in); the heavier

of these two bags ? (6 grm. and 12 or 15 grm.). A child of 5 should do this. 2. Arrange these two bits of paper (square cut into two triangles) to look like that

square (show a duplicate). A child of 5 should do this. 3. Copy this : (a diamond with acute angles and side of it in.). Use pen and ink.

A child of 5 should be able to do a square in same fashion. 4. Count these pennies : (13 pennies grouped but not superposed). A child of 5

will usually not count more than four or five pennies. 5. Is it morning or afternoon ? 6. Tell me what a fork is? a table ? &c. At the age of 6 the normal child defines

familiar objects by their use. 7. Which is the prettier of these faces ? (a normal outline face and a caricature;

Binet and Simon have suitable outline pictures printed and these are com

monly used).

At this age few children can answer : " Which is your right hand and which is your left?”; or execute a command involving two or three stages; or name common colours; but at 7 or 8 years a child should do these things.


1. Pictures with missing parts (outline picture of person without arms, face with

out eye, &c.). A child of 8 should say what is missing. 2. What is the difference between wood and glass, paper and cardboard, &c? A

child of 8 should answer this. 3. Say the days of the week, the months of the year, and tell me the date to-day.

A child of 8 should make a good attempt at this. 4. Should know the chief coins and be able to “play shop,” giving varied change

out of a shilling. 5. What is a fork, a table, a mamma, &c. ? At the age of 9 a normal child as

a rule spontaneously defines not by use merely, but by structure and other

features. 6. Simple “common sense" “problem” questions. (Examples subjoined.)



12 Years.

[ocr errors]


Absurdities test; may be tried any time after age 10. (Examples subjoined.) Make a sentence bringing in three words. This should take about one minute.


3. Say as many words as you can in three minutes. A child of 12 will often say

as many as sixty. The child's head should be covered with a cloth or the

eyes bandaged. 4. What are charity, justice, kindness, or similar abstract words? 5. Restore order to disordered sentences. (Example subjoined.)

Simple common senseor problemquestions :

What would you do if you felt sleepy?
If you found it was raining after you had started for school, what would

you do?

What would you do if you were to break something that did not belong to you?

Why should we judge a person by what he does rather than by what he says ? Absurdities" test :

(Begin by saying : I am going to tell you something with a catch in it-something quite silly-I want you to tell me what it is).

I have three brothers, John, James and myself.
John is taller than James, James is taller than Harry, Harry is taller than

I met a man walking along with his hands in his pockets twirling his cane.
A cyclist riding down a hill was thrown on to his head and killed. He was

taken to the hospital and the doctor after examining him said he would

never recover. An engine driver said the more wagons he had in his train when going up

hill the faster he could go. Disordered sentences:

bravely a defends dog good master his.
my have teacher I the correct asked exercise to.
home our early we country in left visit the to friends.
County Education Offices,


ABSTRACTS AND EXTRACTS. Under this heading are gathered thoughts from literature, both ancient and modern, which seek to

provide information likely to be of assistance to students of child life and practical workers for child welfare. It is hoped that our readers will co-operate in making this section both suggestive and serviceable.

SCIENCE TEACHING. The following memorandum has been approved by the Senate of the University of London for transmission to the Treasury, the Board of Education, the Civil Service Commission, the Committee on Science in the Educational System of Great Britain appointed by the Government, and the Royal Society : (1) Primary and secondary education should be directed towards making active and useful citizens, and should include the development of mind and character and instruction in the fundamental branches of knowledge. Literary, linguistic, mathematical and scientific studies should be regarded as fundamental branches of knowledge, and each pupil should receive some instruction in all these branches. In the case of pupils who pursue their education beyond the age of 16, these subjects should as a general rule be continued, and public and secondary schools should not undertake specialized training in professional subjects. Opportunities for learning Latin and Greek should be given in one or more schools in every educational area. While it is not desirable that it should be compulsory on all pupils, some form of artistic and manual training is to be regarded as of very high importance. (2) The teaching of natural science (including physics and chemistry) should be compulsory in all secondary schools, both boys' and girls' schools. (3) All Secondary schools retaining pupils beyond the age of 16 should be capable of providing instruction in the science subjects of the entrance examinations of the Universities up to the standard required for these examinations. (4) Special technical day schools, in accordance with local needs, should be established in all industrial centres for boys and girls between 13 and 16 years of age who wish to enter the technical (including engineering, chemical, and artistic) industries at

the age of 16. (5) In order to secure for science teaching the position to which it is entitled, and which for the benefit of the nation it ought to occupy, the schemes under which the great public schools are administered should in each case contain provisions to the effect : (a) That the governing body shall include a substantial number of representatives of the learned and scientific societies; and (b) that members of the governing body shall not hold office for life. Without such provisions, it is probable that men distinguished by mathematical or scientific attainments will continue to be at a disadvantage in applying for appointment to headmasterships of public schools. Greek should not be a compulsory subject for entrance scholarships to these schools; and adequate facilities (including equipment) for learning science should be available for, and accessible to, all their pupils. (6) The number of branches in which a first, University degree can be taken should not be unduly multiplied, but students who have taken degree in science should be encouraged by the institution of higher (M.Sc.) degrees, especially in technical branches, to specialize in particular branches of science, or in their applications to industry. The preparation for such degrees should include some training in the methods of research, (7) The present arrangement for the selection of first division clerks in the Civil Service should be modified so that on every occa. sion an adequate proportion of those appointed must have had mathematical or scientific training. (8) In all selections for the higher administrative posts for the Government Departments the work of which is of a scientific or technical character, the official selected ought to have received such a scientific training as will fit him to understand the character of the work for the organization of which he will be responsible.

a first

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »