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Ernest Beckwith Kent.

The constructive interests of children online

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cent) procuring this experience independently of the father's
occupation. The fact here shown that nearly half of those re-
cording no mechanical environment had fathers who were em-
ployed mechanically, would suggest that their denial of such
experience be taken with some reservation and that the
mechanical environment class may in reality be considerably
more than 84 per cent of the whole.

Special Interests and Abilities

With regard to interest taken in actual performance of me-
chanical work during boyhood, the answers affirming such inter-
est generally do so with a positiveness and detail which marks it
as the dominant one of the period. The figures run very closely
parallel, even in the sub-groups to those on mechanical environ-
ment. A number failed to reply to the question, as is indi-
cated by combining the two sets of figures.



Total N. Y.


A


B C


Lawyers


83 82


89


83 83


II


8 9


II


7 9


67



Mechanical Interests

No Mechanical Interest 8

The answers relating to the lines of exceptional ability
shown in boyhood may be mentioned here. Doubtless modesty



A


B


C


Law


52


66


48





21


7


17


33


21


3


9


33



OF CHILDREN 59

was one of the reasons for the 20 per cent of omitted or evasive
answers. The answers given are as follows :

Total N. Y.

Exceptional Mechan-
ical Ability 57 55

Exceptional Ability

(other) 14 18

No exceptional Ability 10 5

Less than one-fifth of the 57 per cent who plead guilty to
the possession of exceptional mechanical ability mention any
other youthful specialty and we shall later find still more
evidence to indicate that these boys as a class were far from uni-
versal geniuses. The non-mechanical lines were:

Mentioned as co-ordinate with early mechanical talent:

Freehand drawing 4; music, chemistry, mathematics, i

each.

Mentioned as the only lines of early talent : Freehand

drawing, music, botany, willingness to work, sticking at

work, knowledge of animals, plants and fishes, "organiz.

ing plans of all kinds," "memory and declamation,"

"eating, growing and reading," i each.

Several of the ten who deny that they had any special talent
at all, describe things made at fourteen or fifteen years of age,
which from the point of view of the writer's experience and ob-
servation would indicate very decided mechanical ability. The
writer is tempted to venture the guess that nearer 90 per cent
than 57 per cent of them were, even as boys, gifted mechanically.



Ability in School ^Vork

The comparative interests and abilities of these men in the
regular school studies show a definite and detailed correlation
with their mechanical tendencies.

As a group they seem to have been a strong but poorly
balanced set of students. Not one claims to have been poor in
all studies, and only 3 per cent admit themselves exceptionally



^ THE CONSTRUCTIVE INTERESTS

good in all. Twelve per cent rank themselves as average in all
and one omits the question. The remainder admit some excep-
tional strength or weakness — generally both— in their school
work. Omitting all equivocal answers, such as "arithmetic if
any," we find that 8i percent admit exceptional strength in
some study and 60 per cent some exceptional weakness, while
56 per cent place themselves in both groups.

The lawyers, on the other hand, seem a much better
balanced group. Fifty-six per cent admit with various apologies
that they were good all around students (against 3 per cent above)
and not one says he was "average in all." These facts may be
stated in tabular form :

Engineers Lawyers

Weak in all o o

Average in all I2 u

Strong in all 3 56

Strong in something 81 100

Weak in something 60 44

Both strong and weak 56 44

The following table shows how this strength or weakness
divided itself among the different studies:



Exceptional Strength





Total.


N. Y.


A


B


C


Lawyers


Science


41


32


49


33


43





Arithmetic


48


36


58


40


48


44


Geography


I]


13


II


13


9





History


8


5





13


9


56


Literature


3





5


3





22



(Classics) 56



Science


I


Arithmetic


10


Geography


6


History


7


Literature


25












4


13


5


7


17





5


7


4


5


5


10


4



OF CHILDREN 6i

Exceptional Weakness

Total N. Y. A B C Lawyers

22

22

O

O

37 20 26 O

Arithmetic is seen to have a decidedly varied record.
While it is the subject in which most men report special strength,
yet it is second only to literature— though by a long interval— in
respect to weakness. So its position is perhaps less definite than
that of science in which 41 per cent reported strength but only i
per cent weakness. Thus, while strength in either arithmetic or
science would not in itself go very far toward suggesting that a
given boy would ultimately belong to this class of engineers,
exceptional weakness in science would seem to be a very decided
bar to his ever doing so. Exceptional strength in literature would
also seem to be something of a bar, being possessed by only 3
per cent. The lawyers' records form a strong contrast here
also, their only weakness being in arithmetic and science, while
most of their strength is in history and the classics.



Relative Preference for Studies

The responses regarding relative preference for and interest
in the school studies show a remarkably definite interest rank for
each one in the collective engineer-mind. The question was :
"Number the following studies in the order of your preference
for them as a boy." The following tables show the number of
times (raised to 100 cases) each rank was assigned to each sub-
ject, and should be read both downward and horizontally. The
more significant numbers are in italics.



62



THE CONSTRUCTIVE INTERESTS



Rank
Science
Arithmetic
Geography
History
Literature



Engineers

Total
I St 2d 3rd 4th 5th

36 37 ^ 10

4g \ 14

/ 6 7 IS 49



N. Y.

I St 2nd 3rd 4th 5th

^5 36 o 5 O

45 18 14 5 9

14 14 2


1 2 3 5

Online LibraryErnest Beckwith KentThe constructive interests of children → online text (page 5 of 6)