child and the copying, do not always bear
each other out, for the desire to express ideas
in form does not necessarily go with the
ability to translate from the eye to the hand,
and great fertility is consequently consistent
with poor execution.
Whatever the result of the drawing test,
it is still possible that the child may incline
to readier expression in writing, and the
examiner can find out by comparison. Ask
the child to write out some story that he
Expression and Response 163
knows well, like the greedy fox that was
crossing the river with a piece of meat in his
mouth, and when he saw the reflection of the
meat in the water, snapped for it, and so lost
his own piece altogether. Then ask the
child to draw the story, and notice whether
he puts more detail into the writing or the
drawing. Notice also whether he selects
some point of the story for his picture and
whether it is a crucial point, or whether he
draws the story in all its stages.
The tendency to gesture is a matter of
observation rather than test. A child who
uses gesture much is either limited in speech,
and feels his limitations, or, although fluent,
has a pressure of feeling behind his words
which seeks an outlet in muscular move-
ments. Gesture which points and empha-
sises speech must be distinguished from
restlessness and nervousness, and also from
racial habits, as in the case of many ItaHans,
whose gesticulations are characteristic with-
out any reference to what they are saying.
If in the course of her examination the
164 TKe BacK-ward CHild
teacher has discovered one vehicle of expres-
sion more than another to which the child
inclines, she will build her training upon it
and rejoice. But when, as often happens,
the child shows no marked tendency at first,
freehand drawing is usually stimulating to
whatever latent creativeness he may have.
It is better than writing, because his freedom
of expression in writing is checked by having
to think constantly how words are spelled.
But let him take stories â€” fairy stories,
adventure stories, anything that appeals
to him, and draw on sheet after sheet of
paper the various scenes and all the details
that occur to him. The teacher will notice
that a greater mass of imaginative detail
will appear in a rough and ready picture of
this sort than in a written composition,
partly because the child has never done this
kind of thing and is not hedged in by imita-
tion and conventions, partly because the
necessity of visualising what he draws in
itself creates new material. The teacher
must be careful not to criticise the manner
Expression and R^esponse 165
of drawing in any way. Her comment must
be entirely on the matter of the drawing in
the way of suggesting fresh details and not
on its execution. If the child is to have
training in drawing, that is a different affair,
and he can go through the regular routine
of an art class. But even the art class work
is helped by the stimulus to expression which
has just been outlined.
When the expression is to be in writing,
it is better to start with the reproduction
of familiar stories. The stories must not be
so hackneyed to the child that they are be-
come monotonous, but the teacher may tell
him briefly two or three stories, and let him
choose which he will re-tell in writing. For
although the end of this training in expression
is self-expression, at the beginning the child
has no self to express, as it were, or at least
not much imaginative substance in his self.
And he will develop that substance only by
gradually filling in and rounding out the
ideas of other people. A creative spirit
will show itself immistakably. Meanwhile
166 The Backward Child
the sound proceeding is to furnish it with
something to go on.
If the child is voluble, what the Germans
call "ready with the tongue," he can tell the
stories instead of writing or drawing them,
and if, as often happens, this voluble disposi-
tion is allied to a dramatic instinct, he will
take satisfaction in learning verses. "What-
ever the means of expression, the principle
in training is the same: to make a roadbed
so open and smoothed of self-conscious ruts
that it will be an encouragement instead of a
bar to mental activity.
The object of determining response is to
give the teacher some fairly definite idea
of what kind of appeals from her will be
most effective with the child, and how cir-
cumstances in general are apt to affect
him. Such observations have no direct
bearing on intellectual training; but every
teacher will agree that a child^s feelings and
manner of receiving impressions and his
emotional reactions â€” ^in a word, what is
Expression and Response 167
technically called his affective behaviour, is
a very important factor in her personal rela-
tions with him. This affective behaviour is
largely the result of environment and more
particularly of home conditions. Some-
times a morbidly developed fear or tendency
to anger will indicate a pathological condi-
tion to which a specialist must attend; and
an extreme, undiscriminating affection in
children under eight is apt to be a sign of
Responsiveness cannot be justly estimated
by tests, .but the teacher must make her
determinations by observing the child over
a period of time with the following points
She is to notice first the degree of response
and then the comparative responsiveness
Pleasure â€” ^pain.
i68 The BacKward Child
Praise â€” blame.
For instance, if the child is keenly alive to
praise and blame, is his response allied to
fear, or is it a sign of ambition? Is his
reaction to blame one of anger, or shame, or
Is his curiosity a kind of general inquisi-
tiveness or more what we call a thirst for
Does he show anger in sullenness or out-
Is his display of anger checked by fear, i. e.,
of the teacher, or is it unreasonable, i. e.y
nervous, or does it seem to have a certain
righteous character even in small things?
Fear is not usually shown independently,
but as already indicated, appears as a factor
in other responses.
Do the child's affections seem to be of an
emotional character so that they actually
influence his actions, or are they simply
attachments based on propinquity and ex-
pediency? The question of the teacher's
Expression and R^esponse 169
personal hold on the child is involved in this
type of response.
Pleasure-pain reactions are to be noted
in connection with physical sensations, the
degree of keenness with which the child
feels hunger, cold, and their opposite gratifica-
tions; or in connection with the intensity
of anticipation and disappointment which he
The great interest in studying a child's
responses is in tracing out the relation which
his emotional nature bears to his intellectual
development. The repressive effect of fear,
to take one of many reactions, is hardly
realised because it is so often indirect. The
following is an instance.
Julius Sternberger was twelve years old,
and his most marked defect was poor volun-
tary memory. Accordingly he received
training in this particular faculty, and as
long as he was by himself, he came to do his
lessons normally. But in the classroom his
bursts of anger puzzled the teacher and
neutralised her efforts. It was suggested
170 TKe BacKward CHild
that she watch the boy especially in respect
to his responses, and in a few days this
curious situation was revealed:
Julius always became angry as he recited,
even before the teacher praised or blamed
him. When he became angry, the teacher
rebuked him, but would pass on to the next
child and leave Julius alone. If, however,
his answer was short, and proved to be
wrong, the teacher would linger over him
until he got it right, and Julius remained
as it were in the public eye. This unfavour-
able prominence he apparently dreaded
more than the teacher's rebuke for losing
his temper, and the dictates of fear accord-
ingly led him to habitual bursts of anger
with the result that his mental activity was
When she had made this analysis, the
teacher changed her tactics; she penalised
Julius more severely for his bursts of temper,
but contented herself with simply calling
his answers wrong when they were wrong and
explaining the case without direct reference
Expression and IVesponse 171
to Jtdius. This shifting of pressure, so to
speak, is only one of a thousand cases where
the difficulty will yield to a little intelligent
The results of a teacher's observations in
the general matter of response will guide her
further in determining whether home condi-
tions are seriously at fault, whether the child
shows a morbid sensitiveness on any point
that calls for a physician's examination, and
in general she will be guided in her own at-
titude toward the child. This analysis of
response does not in any way touch on dis-
cipline or on the treatment of every- day
T^HE teacher; we will suppose, has been
-â– ' giving tests, and making minute obser-
vations on the child's behaviour, both con-
scious and unconscious. She has given the
tests haphazard as they came to hand, and
she has made no notes. She has acted as if
she were sitting down to entertain the child
for an hour and has used various materials as
they came to hand. But now, at the end
of the examination, when the child has gone
away, she wishes to make a record and to
balance one faculty against another. Some
children are so uniformly dull that only by
making such a comparison can the teacher
discover the essential weakness or, indeed, the
readiest point of appeal.
Test Interpretation. 173
The following outline of the tests, all of
which have been explained previously in
detail, will give the examiner an idea of the
ground to be covered. And as supple-
mentary to this outline are given the main
points of which the teacher must take
note. Her watchfulness should be un-
ceasing, for it cannot be said too often
that it is the small, unforeseen, unclassified
things that most surely reveal the child.
But with an answer on all the points given
here, the teacher is in a position to make a
The tests are all simple, even rudimentary,
because their object is the testing of the
rudimentary faculties which are combined
in our more complicated activities. For
this reason no test is made of reading, because
reading is complex and throws no light on the
structure of the mind. But if the examiner
finds a poor homogeneous attention, or a
deficient abstraction process, she can infer
trouble with reading and at the same time
174 The Backward Child
Is the child complained of in lessons or
The difficulty should be described as
specifically as possible.
Vision: Sorting colotired worsteds.
Sound: Estimating relative heights
of notes, the number of notes in a
Visual- or ear-mindedness : Answer-
ing questions like: "What do you
think of first when you think of a
Touch: Distinguishing between feel-
ing of different substances (see pp.
91, 92). Sensitivity to distance
between points of a pair of dividers.
Smell: Identifying smells and dis-
criminating between them.
Taste: Discriminating between salt,
bitter; sour; sweet.
Test Interpretation 175
What is the child's absolute sensitivity
to colour, sound, smell, touch,
Which sense is relatively most keen?
Which sense seems to play the most
important rdle in his ideas?
Mathematical processes: Solution of
sums in mental arithmetic, like
3+2-1X2+3 + 1-^3=?
Number sense: Solution of sums in
mental arithmetic, like: What is
the number that gives 12 if you add
3 to it?
Does the child have trouble in getting
the ideas of addition, multiplication,
and so on, and distinguishing be-
Or, does he show inaccuracy in the
176 The BacKward CKild
Writing a list of ten to thirty common
Answering the first word thought of on
hearing the examiner^s key word.
Are the associations verbal or objective ?
Continuous or in groups? Rapid,
easy, or monotonous?
(In verbal, rapid, jerky, monotonous
associations, note possible tendency
Simultaneous: (a) Unconscious: The
number of pictures on a card noticed
by the child while the teacher talks
about only one of them, (b) Con-
scious: The number of pictures
noticed by the child when the card is
shown him for a few seconds without
comment from the teacher.
Test Interpretation 177
Homogeneous : Crossing out letters on
a printed page, either a single letter
wherever it occurs or two recurring
letters, one with a vertical stroke
and the other with a dash.
Disparate: Reading aloud an easy
verse and at the same time writing
A's on a sheet of paper. More com-
plicated, writing the alphabet at the
same time as the reading.
Simultaneous : How many things does
the child remember?
What kind of things seem to stick
in his mind?
Is his conscious or his unconscious
Homogeneous: How many letters
were missed, i. e., what proportion
of the total number?
Is the child more accurate at the
beginning or the end? (If markedly
at the beginning, it indicates a ten-
dency to fatigue; if at the end, a
178 The BacKward Child
tendency to automatism; see pp.
Does the child go straight down
the page, or does he cross out the
letters at random?
If he has no method, as in the
latter case, is he nevertheless suc-
Does he go back and look for
Disparate: Does the child help him-
self with rhythm?
Does he do the reading and writ-
ing successively, i. e., transferring
his conscious attention from one
to the other?
Analysis: Answering questions calling
for simple identifications and dis-
tinctions, like, "Why are paper,
sugar, and snow alike?"
Solving simple analytical word
Te^t Interpretation 179
puzzles, like reducing a word such
as furniture into fur^ in^ true.
Answering part-wholes questions
(see page 113).
Synthesis : Answering questions which
demand following out to conclusions,
like, " If you saw a horse and waggon
standing, and the horse had no har-
ness on, what would you think?"
Working out easy anagrams.
Does the child answer the analytic or
the synthetic questions more readily?
Does he split up or construct a word
Apart from the correctness of his an-
swers, does he make distinctions
which are really differences?
Automatic : Repeating numbers, words,
nonsense syllables, beginning with
four, and going as high as possible.
1 80 The DacKward Child
Voluntary: Memorising the order of
laying pictures on the table.
Retentive: Must be determined by
teacher's observation over a period
Automatic: What is the highest
number that the child averages in
Voluntary: How long does the child
take to memorise? How long a
series can he replace accurately?
Imagination and Invention.
Dramatic imagination : TeUing a story,
(a) fiction, (b) child's own experience.
Imagery: Making ink-blots and tell-
ing what they look like.
Invention : Making sentences contain-
ing several given words, i. e,y street ,
Und, man. Working out the me-
chanism of some simple instrument,
i, e.y an elementary typewriter.
Test Interpretation i8i
Is the child more disposed to imagina-
tion proper or to invention, in other
words, to a free or a restricted play
of the mind?
Are his mental images fantastic,
or are they limited by environ-
Does his imagination nm in any one
Judgment and Reasoning.
Elementary form judgment: Mak-
ing two equal triangles into a
Elementary aesthetic judgment : Judg-
ing between normal faces and carica-
Working out picture puzzles.
Answering catch questions (see pp.
Answering questions on general ori-
entation (seepage 155).
i82 The DacKward CHild
The first two tests will be failed in only
In the picture puzzles, does the child
fit the pieces by shape, colour, or
sense of the picture?
In the catch questions, does he accept
the teacher's statement?
Or, if he disputes it, does he see the
point or does he merely sense in a
vague way that something is
Is he certain of his own judgments,
right or wrong?
Is he accurate in his reasoning?
Copying simple outlines.
Writing and then drawing a simple
Telling a story, either the child's own
experience or some story he has
Test Interpretation 183
Does the child show greater facility in
speaking, writing, or drawing? Is
the preference decided ?
Does he show a tendency to question
as an aid to speech?
Is his expression in general ready or
Do technical difficulties in writing or
drawing seem a bar to his using
that form of expression?
Can rarely be made in the classroom
or clinic. But the examiner can as-
certain from teachers or observe in
the course of other tests what re-
sponse (absolute and comparative)
the child makes indicating:
Pleasure â€” pain Shame
Fear Praise â€” blame
1 84 The BacKward CHild
Is the response to any one of
these affective feelings morbidly-
Does that excessive sensitivity point
to physical trouble or bad home
Is the response to praise and blame
allied to fear or to ambition?
Is the reaction to blame one of anger,
shame, or petulance?
If the child is given to anger, is he also
affected by anger in others?
Is curiosity inquisitive, or a specialised
desire for knowledge?
Is affection excessive? Is it undis-
criminating ? Is it based on personal
attraction or on benefits conferred?
How keen are pleasure-pain reactions
in connection with (i) physical
sensations, (2) anticipation and dis-
If the child to be examined does not know
Test Interpretation 185
his letters, or if he shows a very poor mathe-
matical abstraction, if he cannot answer the
simplest questions of the type outlined under
perception, and if he is very slow at an easy
picture puzzle, the probability is that he has
some congenital mental defect, whether hy-
drocephalic, hysterical, epileptic, or other-
Such children, who should be in institu-
tions, and who in any case will not be able
to earn their living and take a normal part
in community Hfe, are not in the scope of
this work. They are, however, in the pro-
vince of the teacher, and for the purpose of
helping her to determine whether or not the
child is a defective and not a border-line case,
the following tests are given. Unlike the
foregoing tests, the measure of the child's
ability in these tests is whether he can or
cannot do them, and not how he does them.
Children of seven and over should be able
to do the following :
I. Copying a square (Binet and Si-
mon). The child must be able to make
1 86 The Backward Child
the sides of his rectangle approximately equal
and must make the lines join in the comers.
2. Saying the days of the week, first
forward and then backward.
3. Counting taps. The teacher hits the
edge of the table with a pencil eight or nine
times at irregular intervals, and asks the
child to count the strokes. He must count
4. The tests given above for elementary
form and assthetic judgment may be used to
determine mental deficiency.
5. Asking the child his sex (Binet and
Simon say that this test should be passed by
normal four-year-old children).
A good many children of low mental grade
are still able to pass these tests. We cannot
say that all children over seven who meet
these five tests are therefore capable of being
trained into competent human beings. But
we do say that such children are thereby
worthy of a more minute consideration and
that children who fail on these tests show
themselves mental defectives.
Test Interpretation 187
The teacher will find that the detailed
examination herein set forth provides for
an analysis of faculties which are not devel-
oped in young children and not awakened
in many backward children. Association, for
instance, is practically impossible to test in
a child who cannot write, because if one
attempts it verbally, the result is liable to
be objects in the room, or some sort of de-
finition of the word suggested by the ex-
aminer, and not true association at all.
The tests of perception to determine the
child's predisposition to analysis or synthesis
are not valuable before the age of ten. If
the child is over ten, but does not know his
letters, perception may be partially tested
by the analytic and synthetic questions
Where a test cannot be made, however,
the loss is not serious, because the faculties
which can be tested are the ones that the
child uses, and his difficulty can still be
diagnosed from an analysis of his mental
activities which are in play.
1 88 TKe BacKward CKild
In order to show the method of diagnosis,
an instance is here given in summary:
George Cascio, 15 years old; Italian; heavy
and overgrown. Complained of because of
absence from school and backwardness when
there. Reported hopeless by the truant of-
ficer. Reported as "unable to learn" by the
Sensation: Normally discriminating in
all five senses. His sensitivity to colour
over sound is marked, but he appears
to be ear-minded.
Abstraction: Accurate in figuring and
seems to grasp the mathematical pro-
Association: In groups, is difficult, and
tends to be objective.
Attention : Simultaneous attention is poor
and easily confused. He remembered
two out of eight pictures when looking
at the whole card; none when talking
about one of the pictures.
Homogeneous attention is good, and
Test Interpretation 189
Disparate, not tested.
Perception: He appears confused in syn-
thetic processes. In analytical ques-
tions he perceives clearly, but has some
trouble in working out the answers, i. e.j
they are right, but come slowly.
Memory: His automatic memory is
indifferent ; five digits is his average.
His voluntary memory is fair, i, e.,
two out of three times he can get the
series of eight right.
His retentive memory is said to be
long, but limited in its variety.
Imagination and Invention: His inven-
tion is very poor, and his imagination
is more quick than clear, i. e., tends to
be fantastic, but he has not the dramatic
wealth of detail.
Judgment and Reasoning : His elementary
judgments are normal, and he has a good
deal of certainty and independence.
Expression: He shows a strong prefer-
ence for drawing as a means of expres-
sion, and added to that a very accurate
I90 The BacKward CHild
visualisation of detail and a good sense
of form. He does not incline to narra-
tive, either in talking, writing, or draw-
ing, but when a very simple version of
Roland^s death was told him the boy
drew a spirited picture of a soldier on
horseback blowing a horn, with a good
deal of detail Hke the handle of the
bugle, the stirrups, and so on. In lan-
guage he had nothing to offer but the
recital of the main facts, which of course
was a matter of memory.
He is not given to gesture.
Response: It does not appear on his
teacher's account that he shows any
very keen affective feeHngs. His inde-
pendence of judgment seems to be borne
out in a certain indifference either to
praise or blame. His teacher describes
him as docile and unresponsive. His do-
cility, that is to say, his non-resistant
disposition, probably checks the develop-
ment of his more violent feelings, such
as fear, anger, and shame. And his
Test Interpretation 191
general lethargy of physique is contrary
to a pronounced curiosity.
Summing up, therefore, from these general
observations, it appears that George has a
poor simultaneous attention and an indiffer-
ent automatic memory, the effect of which
is to cut him off from a great many of those
passing impressions which we take for
granted will be registered photographically
on a person's brain. In school, much of
what the teacher says, and many of her