CONSIDERABLE attention has been directed in many countries, including Canada, to those children who are mentally handicapped, but it is only very recently that any special and properly directed methods have been adopted leading to the adequate training of those children who are endowed with superior intelligence—and from whom the nation’s leaders will, in a large proportion, be selected.
The curricula of public schools in Canada have been constructed on the assumption that all children are of equal mental capacity and capable of doing exactly the same work. If the laggards do not keep up with the procession, so much the worse for the laggards; by and by when they grow tall and lanky, or fat and stupid, they are jerked up to higher grades by main strength. Such unfortunates are still to be found in almost every public school in Canada.
Children are being labelled and classified as never before, and gradually new light is sifting through the clouds which have obscured the vision of the average teacher in the past. The three R’s still hold sway as of paramount importance, but no longer monopolize the whole field. great deal of the energy which has been put into the movement to rearrange our ideas regarding the mentality children has come from the United States, although Europe must be awarded the palm for first directing attention to the importance of it.
In the past, if Johnny Jones failed to acknowledge that two and two made four he was consigned to the corner and asked to wear the dunce’s cap. Johnny might wonder why he was treated thus, but the only satisfaction vouch-safed him was the statement that Billy Smith, who was younger, knew the answer, hence there could be no excuse for Johnny.
A brief study of the mentally handicapped, in any public school, reveals the tragedy of the system of our education in Canada. University principals, gray-haired senators and lofty-browed professors often bewail the fact that high-schools are not feeding universities as they should, and wonder why so many of the public schools fail to send their brightest pupils to high school.
Wordy arguments take place and a thousand and one explanations of the failure are offered, but rarely is our defective public school system suspected of being the cause.
Tackling the Abnormal
OLD-FASHIONED departments of psychology, too often appendages to the department of philosophy, went delving into the regions of speculation or physics and dug up the dry bones of unknown and unrecognizable monsters of the past. School psychology was excellent mental exercise for the teacher in training—if he understood it—but the trouble was that he rarely conquered the mental kinks of his teachers.
As for a study of the abnormal—perish the thought! If normal psychology proves such a hard nut to crack, why attempt the impossible? Fortunately there were some brave spirits among the best of the psychologists who, like the three wise men, went bravely to sea in a bowl and eventually drifted somewhere. As soon as they began to correlate their experiences of the abnormal with the normal they discovered that the “somewhere” was a most interesting land and they accomplished things of value to the human race.
Such investigators as Binet, Terman, Yerkes, Pintner and our own Canadian, Dr. Bridges—who made such a success with the psychological tests for the U.S. Army—to say nothing of a host of others, have added greatly to our knowledge of psychology and the pendulum has swung far from cynicism and speculation to a profitable and practical study of the mind.
Like the jazz craze, the ouija-board craze, the dance craze and a hundred of the popular enthusiasms, the mental testing craze is having its innings. And while it is something to be regretted that many of the observers do not commence their studies by ascertaining the “intelligence quotients” of each other, on the whole little harm could come of the development. After all, the sanity of the leaders will save the situation and the very fact that so many students are groping for new light may eventually lead to discovering it.
WHAT is an “intelligence quotient?” An intelligence quotient—or “I.Q.” as it will be referred to hereafter—is the result of methods we adopt to ascertain, or classify, the intelligence of the pupils we examine. The following is a proposed classification of intelligence: I.Q.
Genius, or near genius, about 140
Very superior...............120 to 140
Superior.......................110 to 120
Average........................90 to 110
Dull or backward...........80 to 90
Borderline......................75 to 80
Feeble-minded (Morons)...............50 to 75
Imbecile.........................20 to 50
Already careful analyses of public school populations in Canada have demonstrated the fact that as a general thing only about 60 per cent of the children are of average intelligence: 20 per cent, are above this line and 20 per cent, below.
In this article it is not the intention to deal with those below the line, beyond making the statement that they are a serious handicap to the efficiency of public schools and require special treatment and care.
For those who are not familiar with the Binet-Simon tests it may be said that these are founded on observations made on thousands of children of various ages, with the idea of discovering the average int elligence at certain periods of development. The normal mental age should, theoretically, correspond with the chronological age, but, as may be easily understood, no absolute rule can be laid down, but the law of averages must be followed. The whole scheme is an ingenious one and in actual practice works out with an accuracy that is surprising. Thus, well-trained technicians, for such must be the name given to certain classes of observers, will reach results not varying from each other except perhaps in the slightest degree. It does not follow, though, that their conclusions regarding the requirements of the children examined coincide. That is, as a matter of fact, the crux of the whole situation. It might be explained, too, that a child may be distinctly abnormal as the result of mental disease and yet have a high I.Q. This is not difficult to understand, although l sometimes find the less sapient of the medical profession worrying about it. For example:
PRECOCITY sometimes takes on a most disagreeable phase, as was shown by Ethel K.... an exceedingly bright, pretty and attractive little girl attending a well-known public school in a small Ontario city. When I first met her the precocity of the child was most striking. Binet-Simon tests held no terrors for her, and although she was but thirteen her ability to scale dizzy mental heights was pronounced. At the same time Ethel was absolutely devoid of moral sense and her ability to corrupt a whole community was well established. She associated with two low-grade mental defectives and when I came on the scene these three had completely demoralized the morals of the whole school. The state of affairs was almost unbelievable except to those who have had experience with precocious types. Ethel was placed under strict supervision in an institution and of course I was in for the usual condemnation by casual observers who placed sentiment before common-sense.
Meanwhile, Ethel’s little brother proved to be a low-grade defective and the mother mentally diseased. Of course, this precocious weakling easily persuaded someone to take her out on probation. She escaped to one of the United States border cities, where she cut a swath of the widest character, in immorality and crime. She returned to her old home when eighteen and almost immediately was apprehended for the vilest kinds of criminality and shocked even the hardened court officials by her extraordinary depravity. When I saw her, the “rocket stick” was coming down rapidly and she was no longer the precocious child of yesterday. She was soon put on the records as a confirmed criminal, and, if alive, has degenerated so rapidly mentally and physically that the end can easily be foretold.
A battle-royal may be waged over the meaning of the word “intelligence,” especially among those who find no difficulty in staging a controversy over such abstractions as the difference between a horse-chestnut and a chestnut-horse. In the Binet-Simon method mental age and intelligence correspond. The observer uses a series of tests which accurately stand for the average intelligence at certain ages and the variations either above or below are scored by a scale accepted as a standard.
The I.Q. has its value in making a diagnosis, but only tells a part of the story because, after all, the I.Q. of any child is founded simply on an examination of one part of its mental get-up, leaving in abeyance the psychological peculiarities, heredity and home environment. In other words, the system as applied by the observer who has not been trained in psychiatric as well as psychological methods is making serious errors, especially when dealing with people of nervous type. For this reason it is imperative that children who vary from the so-called normal should be carefully studied in well equipped mental schools for days or weeks, if necessary, before definite conclusions are arrived at regarding the best course to follow in educating these variants. Extensive tests are now being carried out along these lines in several of the Canadian provinces, and particularly interesting work is being done in the public schools of such cities as Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto.
What is A Psychiatrist, Anyway?
BEFORE going any further it may be of value to define psychiatrist (or psychiater) and psychologist, showing the differentiation. A psychiatrist is one who studies and treats diseases of the mind. A psychologist is one who studies mental phenomena. The difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist is marked: the psychiatrist is necessarily a physician who is, in the majority of cases, also an experienced psychologist but has in addition a deep knowledge of mental diseases. In other words, the psychiatrist is involved in the study of pathological conditions and the manifestations resulting from them. Psychologists, as a rule, are interested simply in mental phenomena.
Some of the tests which are being used in Canadian schools for children of various ages are exceedingly interesting. For example, in ascertaining the I.Q. of a child ten years old, here are some of the questions:
“What do you think of this sentence? A man said: 'I know a road from my house in the City which is down hill all the way to the city, and down hill all the way back.' "
The comment of the child is taken on this sentence and we take note of how quickly the answer comes and as to the detail into which the child goes. There are five sentences altogether and to pass successfully the child should answer correctly four out of the five. The other four sentences are:
“An engineer said that the more cars he had on his train the faster he could go;” “Yesterday the police found the body of a girl cut into eighteen pieces. They believed that she killed herself;” “There was a railroad accident yesterday but it was not very serious; only forty-eight people were killed;” “A bicycle rider being thrown from his bicycle in an accident struck his head against a stone and was instantly killed. They picked him up and carried him to a hospital and they do not think he will get well.”
What does your boy or girl of ten say when these sentences are read aloud? What is their immediate comment? Some other questions asked the child of ten are:
“What ought you to say when someone asks your opinion about a person you do not know very well?” “What ought you to do before beginning something very important?” “Why should we judge a person more by his actions than by his words?”
Children of eleven and twelve are asked such questions as: “What is pity? Revenge? Charity? Envy? Justice?” A child of this age should answer correctly three out of five. Also:
“Change these words so that they will make a good sentence:
(a) For the started and we country early at are.
(b) To asked paper my teacher correct I my.
(c) A defends dog good his bravely master.
“Say these numbers backwards:
At least one of these three should be done correctly. Other questions are: “In what way are a snake, a cow and a sparrow alike?”
“In what way are a book, teacher, newspaper alike?”
“In what way are wool, cotton and leather alike?”
“In what way are a knife-blade, penny, piece of wire alike?”
“In what way are a rose, potato, tree alike?”
A few of the questions asked a child of thirteen or fourteen are:
“What is the difference between a king and a president?”
“What are the chief differences between a school and a church?”
“If a man’s salary is $20 a week and he spends $14 a week, how long will it take him to save $300?”
“If two pencils cost 5 cents, how many pencils can you buy for 50 cents?”
“At 15 cents a yard, how much will 7 feet of cloth cost?”
All these problems in mental arithmetic should be answered in a minute each, or less, and two out of three should be answered correctly.
When we come to the children of fifteen to sixteen we find that they have usually the I.Q. of the average adult. We ask : “What is the difference between
“(a) Laziness and idleness;
(b) Evolution and Revolution;
(c) Poverty and misery.
(d) Character and reputation.
“Repeat without varying a single word : ‘Walter likes very much to go on visits to his Grandmother because she always tells him many funny stories.’
“ ‘Yesterday I saw a pretty little dog in the street. It had curly brown hair, short legs and a long tail.’ ”
One of these two should be repeated after the investigator, accurately.
The average child of eighteen should have the I.Q. of a superior adult. For instance, they are asked to repeat these numbers:
Then they are asked to repeat these numbers backwards:
There are, of course, other mental tests to estimate the quickness of their mental reactions and perceptions.
How Many of Us Are Normal
THE question of what constitutes a normal child will inevitably come up and will occasionally prove a poser, and while it is true that the law of averages may be relied upon when dealing with a school as a whole, yet it must fail with a certain proportion of individuals. A few days ago a glib young psychologist in a public lecture made merry over the classification of so-called psychopathic children and apparently had a firm conviction that his lack of experience placed him in the position to dismiss with a graceful gesture all the babble of doctors who have discovered unstable mental conditions in troublesome children.
Just here it may be well to define psychopathic personalities. Those psychopathic conditions which develop on a morbid constitutional basis include an extensive borderland between pronounced morbid states and more personal eccentricities which are wont to be regarded as normal. We consider personal deviations from the regular course of mental development as morbid only when they are of special consequence to the physical and mental life; but the distinction is one of degree and is to a certain extent arbitrary. There is a considerable group of such morbid conditions which may properly be regarded as mental deformities. They are not characterized by any definite disease process, but rather by a general deviation from the normal mental life.
However, the policy of a purely psychological classification may best be seen when a study of the children grandiloquently styled “super-normals,” by some psychologists, is made. It is clearly recognized that in the twenty per cent, of pupils above the average the peak, amounting to five per cent, will contain examples of a very high order of intelligence, sometimes scoring up to a quotient of nearly 200. In this group are to be found the future leaders of the country as well as some of the marked failures. If we simply follow the ordinary psychological scoring method in arriving at our results, and adopt the stimulating process that may be resorted to with the best types, we are likely to stage a tragedy for others. Of course, the term “super-normal” is typical of this continent, where the desire to “beat all creation” is to the fore. Perhaps the term “children of superior intelligence” is less open to criticism.
A Splendid Entrance Class!
OF COURSE, our investigations have not yet been very extensive in Canada but we have run across some schools where we have found an extraordinary number of children of superior intelligence. Recently tests were being made at a school in a good residential portion of Toronto and we found that the I.Q.’s of these children ranged from 96 to 185. The average was 120. They were a good healthy type of children, with excellent environment and heredity—and they had a splendid teacher. This was an entrance class consisting of twenty-two pupils. The youngest was ten years and ten months old, the oldest fourteen years. Frank B...., who was the youngest pupil in the class, had the highest intelligence quotient—185. This showed that he had the average intelligence of a boy of eighteen. He answered our questions with great speed, so fast that I was scarcely able to follow him. It is amazing to find a whole class of more than a score of pupils where none ranks less than 96.
During surveys made by the Canadian National Committee for Mental Hygiene in nearly all the provinces of Canada, this question of superior intelligence has received attention from us. We find them in nearly all the schools unless the children are largely recruited from the poorer types of immigrants. From the standpoint of national importance it overshadows the importance of the mental handicap, great as that is, because of the waste taking place in the ranks of those who would become highly efficient if properly developed. This waste, occurring because of the marking-time methods enforced by subserviency to the needs of the average and below average children, has caused pupils of superior intelligence to lose interest and become restless while being held back. Too often they leave school half educated, to take up occupations where there is no possibility of reaching the heights easily accessible to them under favorable circumstances. However, their day has already arrived, as will be shown presently.
Two types are to be found among the children showing the highest I.Q.’s and each requires special attention and treatment. One type is represented by those of fine physique and healthy brains, who are able to do the routine work with consummate ease, and without effort keep in the van. They are apt to find school work a bore because they find that everything is too easy, and everything is too easy, and being conscious of this they not only lose interest in academic work but become anxious to fledge their wings in undertakings which offer opportunity to soar to what they think are higher achievements in the broad world.
A careful scrutiny of school statistics shows that this picture is not over-drawn. These pupils often leave school for the same reason, and, instead of being benefited by an experience which would have fitted them for the highest walks in life, their possibilities cannot be realized because of the handicap of insufficient education. The enforcement of the increased age school law may help a little but will not solve the problem. Fortunately, the care of this hopeful type is attracting the attention of progressive pedagogues far and wide, and the “promised land” is in sight.
THE second type is that made up of precocious children who frequently rank very high in intelligence at an early age, when graded simply by the Binet-Simon tests. Precocious children, urged to live up to their “I.Q.’s,” almost invariably “sky-rocket” with great brilliancy and then come down like the proverbial stick.
Marion C.... was the little nine-year-old daughter of a patient in R.... Hospital. Her precocity was remarkable and her physical get-up conformed to what we might expect. Marion had to keep her nose to the grindstone pretty closely to help look after the other four children, who became a great care during her father’s illness. Her mother developed an acute disease and had to go into the hospital. Marion’s burden was greatly increased but she determined to stick by the ship and did wonders; but an aunt, understanding the difficulties of the situation, had the little ones placed temporarily in a Catholic institution. Marion resented this most bitterly and told me quite frankly that as she was a “Black Protestant” it was up to her to get even with the aunt. She saw me almost daily, always complaining and with her mind fixed on revenge. Her desires ran in criminal channels and I was so impressed by her viciousness that one of the judges was cautioned that the child would come before him sooner or later.
Marion’s great grievance was that Catholics had no twelfth of July and no parade and she simply would not stand for any organization so devoid of interest. One day she said: “Doctor, watch me get even with that aunt.” A few days later a newspaper paragraph stated that the child, Marion C...., had been arrested for shop lifting. She gave the authorities information leading to the arrest of the aunt, who was charged with sending Marion out to steal. The poor woman was convicted on the startling evidence of her niece, and the judge (before cautioned) commenting on it, told the jury that he had rarely heard such clear, convincing and conclusive evidence as she gave, and went on further to say that if this child had the proper setting she would prove a great ornament to society, so remarkable was her ability.
The aunt was “sent down” for a year and when I saw Marion she gleefully said: “Have you seen what I did to that old aunt? Guess she will be glad to leave me a ‘Black Protestant’ after this. I put up a pretty good job on her, and the judge fell for it."
It is not difficult to imagine what became of Marion, and when I last saw her she was on the highway to complete her retrogression in a short time. The tragedy of it all was that no one would pay the slightest attention to the warnings given, and thus nothing could be done to save the child.
PRESENT methods are fatal in the case of precocious children who will “sky rocket.” Teachers too often are swept off their feet by the high I.Q.’s registered by these prematurely-developed minds and crowd them to excess, with the inevitable result. My experience among the insane, covering a lifetime, has made me keenly alive to the dangers of mental over-heightened stimulation to these weaklings. The tragedies resulting from such treatment are appalling and the shattered hulks to be found in hospitals for the insane testify to the fact that the warnings of the psychiatrist should not go unheeded. They should be taken hold of in good time, and if they had a year or two or perhaps more, away from studies, for example on a farm, their tragedies might be prevented and they might become useful, normal and fairly average citizens.
These children are easily picked out by the trained observer and ordinarily bear the stigmata so often seen in handicapped types, such as high-arched palates, abnormal ears, asymmetrical heads, poor physique, malnutrition, etc. Their minds are of the flash-in-the-pan order and occasionally their intelligence is almost uncanny. The history is pretty consistent. During many surveys made in the last year or so several striking examples of this type of child have been seen, very constantly occurring in families where mental defect was known to exist.
In a survey carried on recently three defective children belonging to different families were discovered to have as their accompaniment in the same school other members showing superior intelligence and scoring very high, indeed by the Binet-Simon method. It goes without saying that mental precocity and poor physique were the outstanding features of these children. Some of the most brilliant things ever accomplished in collegiate and early university work have been the outcome of precocity and while it is quite possible that the individual showing this might have been saved if they had not been placed in the forcing mill, the tragedy was complete and when the collapse came the unfortunates sank to the utmost depths of mental oblivion. I can recall large numbers of cases of this kind. Some few showed progressive deterioration, and while they managed to graduate, simply scraped through and became marked failures. Here is a typical example:
A Splendid Promise, but—!
JENNIE S.... left public school at twelve and became the most brilliant pupil at high school in an Eastern town. Although she showed many physical defects, the brilliancy of her mind attracted the attention of the teachers. Her facility was astonishing and she could solve the most difficult mathematical problems with ridiculous ease. A splendid career was predicted for her, when the inevitable collapse came at the age of fifteen. She suddenly had a “mental attack” during which she did the most fantastic things and startled her family by her erratic behavior. She developed hallucinations, heard mysterious voices talking to her and felt that she was an object of suspicion and persecution. Her mental deterioration was rapid, and in a few weeks her interest in study had gone; her ability to concentrate was no longer present; her affection for her family had disappeared. The excitement soon passed away and Jennie felt that she should take interest in something not too difficult, realizing that some great change had taken place. When I examined her she was plausible and expressed the hope that she had regained what she described as her “pet.” When given some rather simple arithmetical problems she became confused, failed to grasp the meaning of them and could not reach a solution. The tragedy was complete and mental disease already chronic. The best that can be hoped for now is the staying of the malady without further marked mental deterioration.
Take a second case found in a large public school in Alberta. A little girl of ten scored an I.Q. of nearly 180, which meant that her mentality was equivalent to that of a well-developed young woman of eighteen. Her appearance at once suggested mental aberration : face pale, child anaemic, ears flappy and abnormal, palate high and contracted, and the whole picture one of nervousness and precocity. The girl’s analyses of the most abstruse statements were remarkable. The head-master was warned to instruct the child’s family to give a little less attention to the mental side and more to the physical development. But the warning went unheeded and in less than a year definite mental disease occurred. If she had been taken out of school when the warning was first given and special attention had been paid to the development of her backward physique and a year or two spent on a farm, she probably could have been saved.
Ned Pratt’s Prodigy
PROFESSOR EDWARD J. PRATT, of Victoria College, University of Toronto, records in a well-known school in Toronto the case of a precocious boy of seven years and five months, who had the surprising ascertainable range vocabulary of more than 8,000 words—equal to the average accomplishment of a boy thirteen years old. He remarks: “The boy has a fine home, is well-mannered, affectionate and is on good terms with his playmates. He possesses, however, poor vision and other physical defects. Such a remarkable case of precocity stands him in just as much need of special observation and care as the case which shows a proportionate difference below the medial line of intelligence.”
Professor Pratt’s remarks are much to the point and one should anxiously scan the future to see what is in store for this lad if allowed to travel the pace.
Perhaps a few words of explanation may be allowed here in regard to the statement that a child has an ascertainable range vocabulary of 8,000 words. On page 10 of this issue of MacLean's you will observe a panel containing one hundred words. These words were selected by taking the last word on each page of a one hundred page dictionary. The selection of these words is based on the law of averages and psychologists have come to the conclusion that, roughly speaking, a child should often be able to define, with a fair degree of accuracy, thirty of these words; children of eleven and twelve—forty; children of thirteen and fourteen—fifty; children of sixteen and seventeen—sixty-five; children of eighteen (and superior adults) seventy-five to eighty. It may be of interest to go over this list itself, or question other members of your family, and see just where you, or those you question, would rank. Of course, the parent—or whoever is giving these tests—will have to decide for himself what standard of accuracy in the definition will be required. Well-trained technicians know from long experience what definition can be regarded as correct and what would not be so regarded. As these one hundred words are actually being used to test the school children of Canada, they are of more value than so many other tests which have appeared in the newspapers and periodicals recently.
Now we come to the type with which we are chiefly concerned, namely, the children possessing fine minds, splendid physical health, and the ability to accomplish things far out of the ordinary. They are not only the joy of the enthusiastic teacher but the hope of the nation. With the coming of the Adolescent Act and the raising of the school ages in some provinces to sixteen, the problem of sifting out the high grades from the average and low grades becomes more and more important and already the wheels of progress are beginning to turn, in many centers. To show that such is the case, examples of what is being done in Edmonton, Alberta and in Toronto may be referred to, though just as much progress is being made in several other places.
They’re Alive in Edmonton
ÍN THE Alexander Taylor School, Edmonton, Principal Charles B. Willis is making several experiments along the fines indicated, and already his results are of interest. He says:
“Up to the present the measure of intelligence has been largely in the hands of the trained psychologists, who could measure very well indeed but who were usually satisfied with locating a few feeble-minded children and recommending an occasional extra promotion. The results they have obtained from the use of the measurement of intelligence, as applied in most school systems, have been disappointing in the extreme because they have been content to measure tabulate figures, and make graphs, and have stopped without doing any followup work of value. Of course, this work is that of the school administrator, rather than that of the psychologist, but so far the work of the psychologist in mental measurements has been almost totally fruitless.”
I suspect that Mr. Willis does not mean seriously all he says, because his elaborate and apparently successful system of dealing with his pupils is based very largely on a study of I.Q.’s. His scholars come to the Alexander Taylor School, which accommodates five hundred and fifty pupils, from various other schools, at the end of Grade V. A third of the pupils are foreign— Hebrew, Russian, German and Austrian mainly. During the last four years the average I.Q. has proved to be about one hundred for the English-speaking part of the school population.
During the year 1919-1920, seventy-three pupils of this school received extra promotions; only one of these pupils failed. From September 1920 to March 1921 eighty-five pupils received promotion on the basis of intelligence, and all but three or four are doing satisfactory work. Since the test was first used it has been an important or leading factor in one hundred and ten extra promotions and has been the means of saving one hundred children from demotion or non-promotion. The over-age in the school has been cut down from forty-two per cent to twenty-nine per cent. In other words, the average time required to complete eight grades has been cut down by slightly more than a year. Briefly stated, Mr. Willis has divided his school into groups, one including the slower-moving pupils, the other containing those above the average intelligence. The result has been most satisfactory and clearly indicates the fact that the study of the individual is essential in any system of grading. From the dollars-and-cents-point the gain to the community has been immensely satisfactory; from the standpoint of the necessity of keeping these “above-the-average” in intelligence pupils interested, the gain has been incalculable. It is along just such lines as these laid down by Mr. Willis that the right kind of advancement will be made.
Grouping by Intelligence
IN THE Queen Alexandra School, Toronto. Principal John Wallis, with the permission of the Board of Education, is conducting an experiment that may be far-reaching in its effects. In this school there are 1,400 pupils. As a preliminary, Dr. Eric K. Clarke, school psychiatrist, was asked to pick out the children having I.Q.’s below seventy-five, so that they might be satisfactorily placed in auxiliary classes. The other pupils were graded in three groups, weak, average and above the average.
While it was recognized that the judgment of teachers may as a rule be relied upon, yet such is not always the case; so it was decided to find the I.Q. of each pupil by careful psychological examination.
As was to be expected, the medium or average group proved to be large; and those below and above the average small.
Those of superior intelligence were arranged as if ungraded and the class included pupils derived from two or three forms, the expectation being that these bright pupils would profit by association. This last arrangement showed wise foresight, because it has long been realized that children coming from ungraded schools in the country often prove far more successful in their early accomplishments at the university than those derived from graded schools.
Professors E. A. Bott and E. J. Pratt carried on the psychological examinations of the majority of the pupils. At first, thirty pupils showing superior intelligence were selected from the senior third class and skipped to the senior fourth grade; with the result that eighteen reached high school in one year. In 1921 forty received special promotion and apparently the failures will be few. The teachers are enthusiastic over the system and find much time saved, as the children are deeply Interested and, without coaxing or driving, take full advantage of the extra equipment provided to improve their knowledge.
The only suggestion made is that in these advances great care should be taken to consult with the school psychiatrist to see that precocious children are not unduly forced. Of course the number of these will be small, but small as it is there is reason to believe that the situation should be carefully guarded.
As to the results achieved so far, Principal Wallis says;
“The bright pupils in ungraded classes are no longer held back by slow pupils and will undoubtedly receive promotion sooner than before. The teacher of these pupils and of the average normal class has not the slow children to worry her and take up her time with very unsatisfactory results. Her class moves forward with a large degree of uniformity and makes a steady and satisfactory progress. The case of the dull, normal child is especially interesting; many of them, in a time after they had been placed in this new class, began idling, as they had been accustomed to do in classes where they had been hopelessly left behind by the other children. Then a change I took place and they realized that they actually could do the work of the class. After three months, and indeed often in much less time, we have no better-working classes in the schools, nor any that take a higher average in the term examinations. The change is most gratifying and there are no better-behaved pupils than those who, formerly, because they could not ‘keep up’ very often were disturbers.”
In speaking of the good work done by the dull normal children it is well to make clear that while they do their work well they do not cover exactly the same work as classes of brighter children. In the end they certainly reach a higher degree of education than they could in ordinary classes.
They Won’t Turn Back
AS TO the teachers of our classes under the changed conditions, they are unanimous in saying that they would not like to return to the mixed grades—mixed as to the pupils’ ability. Those who have the classes of dull, normal children say that while the work is the hardest they have ever done, its interest fully compensates for the larger outlay of energy. The result, we feel sure, will be a financial saving to the Board of Education in speeding up, without urging, the work of all the classes.
It is a treat, indeed, to be a teacher of a class composed of pupils of superior intelligence.
Any attempt to increase the efficiency of schools specializing in the speeding-up should be sanely devised and just as sanely administered. That something must be done is evident to those familiar with some unpleasant facts. Prof. E. A. Bott discovered while carrying on an investigation for the Canadian National Committee for Mental Hygiene, that of those children who disappear from public schools more than five-eighths leave, not from economic necessity but because in their judgment it is best to do so. Usually the five-eighths includes a very large proportion of the above-the-average mentally, and the reasons given show that the public school system is not getting results which would be easily attainable if improved methods were adopted. Teachers generally are alive to the situation and are showing that a large proportion of those above the average in intelligence among them are determined to drive mistakes of the past into oblivion. School Boards are being duly impressed, too, and a new era is at hand.
Briefly stated, our aim at the present moment should be to select the highest types of public school children who are above the average intelligence, possess fine bodies and sound brains, interest them as individuals and educate them up to the limit of their possibilities by the best qualified teachers to be found. In this way the natural leaders and brightest minds will be saved for a nation that requires the help of its very best types to build up a Canada worthy of the name.