Lawrence Augustus Averill.

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"Bach of Halle," was a man of great power and learning;
Emmanuel, another son, called "Bach of Berlin," was the
founder of pianoforte music. Another son, Christopher,
called "Bach of England," was a very charming composer.
Mendelssohn's grandfather was a celebrated Jewish phi-
losopher; his father was a rich banker of Berlin. The great
musician had a sister who was said to be Mendelssohn's
equal at the piano, and possessed of high genius. In the
family of Mozart, the father of the great composer was a
famous viohnist and composer. A sister of the first was
likewise a talented musician. Mozart had two sons.


Charles and Wolfgang, both of whom were accomplished
players and composers.

A great deal has been written about this investigation
by Galton, and some of the criticisms which have been made
of it are not without good basis. For example, many of the
greatest musicians, such for example as Wagner, Schubert,
and Handel, are not included in Galton's list of musicians.
The same is true of his lists of authors, scientists, poets, et al.
It has been objected, too, that many of the persons whom
he does include in his records were neither geniuses nor
near geniuses, but were rather cited by Galton in order to
make out his case. In spite of these substantial criticisms,
however, Galton demonstrated conclusively that talent in
a very great number of families finds expression in more than
one member of such families. Of the exceptions to this
rule he admitted that he did not take account. His own
i^ conclusions are "that eminently gifted men are raised above
mediocrity as much as idiots are depressed below it"; that
"few people win high merit without possessing peculiar
gifts"; that "if a man is gifted with vast intellectual ability,
eagerness to work, and power of working, such a man can-
not be repressed"; and that "we must not permit ourselves
to consider each human or other personality as something
supernaturally added to the stock of nature, but rather as
a segregation of what already existed, under a new shape,
and as a regular consequence of previous conditions. . . .
We may look upon each individual as something not wholly
detached from its parent source, — as a wave that has been
lifted and shaped by normal conditions in an unknown, il-
limitable ocean."

Heredity in Royalty. In 1906 Dr. Frederick A. Woods
published another study in heredity, entitled Mental and
Moral Heredity in Royalty. The personages investigated
were the members of the royal families of the chief countries
in Europe, and the method employed was similar to that
used by Galton in his study of hereditary genius, discussed
above. On the basis oi the \a,w oi deviation from the averagey


Dr. Woods graded all the 832 characters studied on a scale
of 10, according to both their intellect and their morals.
Obviously, from the very nature of the law, the greatest
number of all should be found to occupy an average posi-
tion on the scale around 4 to 6. Below 4 would be a de-
creasing number down to 1, the idiots and incompetents,
while above 6 would be a correspondingly decreasing num-
ber of the unusually bright and the geniuses up to 10. As a
guide in his classification he depended, as did Galton, on
the leading biographical dictionaries of the time and upon
the stamp which history has given to the rulers and their

T> ?^ ^l%r^^ ''}^^' ^^'^ P'^''^''* ^^"g °f England [at that time.
Edward VII] and including all his ancestors to four generations, and
then all the other descendants from these ancestors, and stretch-
mg out m every direction by this endless-chain method, I have
at present obtained mental and moral descriptions of over 600
inter-related individuals, including pretty completely the follow-
ing countries of Europe: England (House of Hanover), Germany
trance, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Austria. Italy, Russia'
Denmark and Sweden. The period covered extends in general
back to about the sixteenth century, but in the case of Spain and
Portugal to the eleventh century.

AH the above families are related through some connecting

In general, without entering in detail into the results of
Dr. Woods's interesting and laborious work, it may be said
that his conclusions are much hke those of Galton. He
finds, for instance, that there is a distinct correlation be-
tween intellectual abilities and moral qualities in royalty
that neither luxury nor consanguineous marriages nor ex-
alted position have proven unfavorable to the inheritance
of ability; that " heredity explains all (or at least 90 per cent)
ot the intellectual side of character in practically every in-
stance"; and that "even in the moral side of character
inherited tendencies outweigh the effects of surroundings ''
Wherever degeneration in royal lines has occurred, Woods


finds that such degeneration is to be explained on the grounds
of pollution of the blood through marriage with a family
in which a degeneration was then existing. However, de-
generacy in royalty appears to be not nearly so evident as
popular belief might lead us to think. In the 832 persons
studied there were found no less than 25 world geniuses
"who stand without superiors in the practical domains of
war and government," a ratio which it would be hard to
duplicate in any other department or condition of society.
"The royal breed is superior to any other one family, be it
that of noble or commoner." Finally, "the upshot of it
all is that, as regards intellectual life, environment is a
totally inadequate explanation."

It would appear, then, from these two classic inquiries
into the nature of human heredity that heredity is a prime
influence in shaping and moulding the possibilities of life.
Environment remains a tremendous factor, as we shall see,
in the evolution of every human being, but the driving
force appears to be installed by heredity. In the next
lesson we shall endeavor to draw some conclusions from our
survey of heredity which will be of significance to our work
as educators and trainers of the child.


1. Study the principle of deviation from the average as outlined in Gal-
ton's Hereditary Genius.

2. Report upon the House of Hanover as tabulated by Woods in his
Heredity in Royalty.


1. Galton, Fr. Hereditary Genius.

2. Winship, A. E. Jukes-Edwards; A Study of Education and Heredity.

3. Woods, F. A. Mental and Moral Heredity in Royalty,


HEREDITY (continued)
6. The Heritage of the Children
What to look for in the observation period:

1. Evidences of mental or intellectual differences between the
pupils, such, for example, as differences in interestedness,
powers of concentration, command of language and expres-
sion, keenness of perception, type of memory, imaginativeness,
reasoning ability, ease and faithfulness of association, etc.

2. Evidences of social differences between the pupils (i.e., differ-
ences in politeness, good behavior, conscientiousness, social
adaptability on the playground, qualities of leadership,
capacities of "mixing" well, seclusiveness, etc.).

3. Evidences of scholastic differences: differences of ability in
specific studies, such as aritlmietic, history, language work,
drawing, etc. Does the pupil who is bright in one study appear
to be bright in most or all the other subjects.''

Some practical conclusions. We have now completed
our brief survey of the field of heredity, and turn in this
lesson to an application of the facts and principles discussed
in the preceding five lessons to our work as students of
childhood and as teachers. It should be reiterated at the
cutset that our knowledge of the principles underlying hu-
man heritage is at best scant and fragmentary, and that
any conclusions which may be suggested by our present
knowledge are subject to revision as experimentation ad-
vances along this fascinating line. It is probable, however,
that the records of our racial and ancestral past are now
sufficiently complete to warrant making the following

Racial heredity. Nature never makes any mistakes in
her breeding. Of this fact we may be assured. Whatever
may appear upon the surface to be an abortion and an ab-
surdity of nature will be found ultimately to be the result



of a very definite and doubtless a very wise natural law. In
the wider aspect of racial heredity, one can catch something
of nature's inexorable constancy in the faithfulness with
which she fashions her children true to race and type and
stature. For example, the child of the negro blood is
unerringly black; the child of the white parent is unerringly
white. In a similar way the children of all colors of skin
continue and perpetuate the color of their racial forbears.
Likewise with respect to physical characteristics which are
fundamental. The height of human beings, we may be-
lieve, has remained tolerably constant for thousands of
generations, as have also their approximate weight and
girth. Any chance or unusual variation in the physical
averages of human beings has in the past always tended in
the next or subsequent generations to approach the mean,
in accordance with the expectations of Gal ton's law of
filial regression.

Physical aspects of heredity. Accordingly children
should prove in the great mass of cases to be more like their
parents in physical characteristics than less. Children of
parents below the average height or weight should tend to
be of lesser height and weight than they, but at the same
time should be found to approach somewhat the type, or
average. Occasionally, however, our calculations appear
to be utterly upset. Now and again the son or daughter
of parents of mediocre height will shoot up nearly a foot
taller, while on the other hand those of parents of unusual
height will be found less tall than the average. For such
exceptions as these the science of heredity can offer as yet
no thoroughly dependable explanation. Often, it is true,
a child "takes after" his mother and not his father in the
matter of height or features or complexion, etc.; often he
"takes after" the latter rather than the former. Often,
too, the child appears to be not a whit like either father or
mother in any physical characteristic. In such case there
are at least two possible sources of his variance with
the parents. In the first case, he may have inherited a


"blended" character; i.e., one in which the characteristics
of both mother and father appear to be commingled in him.
In the second case, he may draw 100 per cent of his char-
acteristics from neither mother nor father, nor from both
together, but rather from some other ancestor, for example
a grandfather or a grandmother, or perhaps an uncle or
aunt, or some other member of the ancestral line.

Thus uncertain and baffling are the problems of heredity.
Thus, too, you can understand how hopeless a task an ex-
perimenter or inquirer into the nature of heredity faces when
he attempts to formulate mathematical computations and
probabilities in this most elusive and apparently contra-
dictory field. You recall from Lesson 23 that Galton as-
cribed a certain definite and constant amount of weight to
the influence of the immediate parents, grandparents, ct al,
in the formation of the natures of a child. You see now,
however, that while Galton's law of ancestral inheritance
may hold true, and apparently does, for the greatest num-
ber of cases, it does not explain the striking variations from
type which one continually meets. One needs to remember
always in his contemplation of the problems of heredity that
every child has a countless host of ancestors, after any one
of whom, theoretically, he may take any of his physical
characteristics. As a matter of fact, however, it is probably
rare that a child resembles to any great degree any one of
his ancestors more removed than three or four generations
Mental inheritance. In general, what we have said con-
cernmg the mheritance of physical characteristics applies
equally well to the heritabihty of mental and moral char-
acteristics. It is obvious, however, that the environment
mto which the child is born is of far more profound influence
upon these characteristics than it is upon the purely physi-
cal characteristics, which are inborn absolutely, and which
develop relatively independent of varying influences of en-
vironment. In general, then, you may expect the children
whom you teach to be on the whole more like their parents
than unhke them; but you may expect also that a consid-


erable number will manifest pronounced variations from
either or from both. As a rule, ability in handwriting, or in
linguistics, or in mathematics, or in some form of artistic
expression, or in inventiveness and originality, etc., which
is apparent in the child, may be assumed to have been pres-
ent in his immediate ancestry, at least to a degree. Such
abilities in a family line may be called "specialized" abil-
ities. In like manner, a child who is disposed to neurotic
tendencies, or to epilepsy or abnormality of any sort, is more
likely than not to be the child of parents in whom similar
deviations from the normal exist. It should be borne care-
fully in mind, however, that owing to the uncertainties of
heredity perfectly normal parents may have markedly ab-
normal children, and hence the teacher needs to be particu-
larly careful in passing mental judgment on any family from
which a subnormal or an abnormal child happens to come.
She will find not infrequently that, because of this same
variableness of hereditary forces, of two or more children
coming from the same family and the same surroundings
one may be hopelessly subnormal, while the other or the
rest may be unusually brilliant pupils. With the last men-
tioned the teacher can literally work wonders educationally,
while before the former she stands all but helpless. Pro-
fessor Walter expresses this truism happily thus: "A genius
must be born of potential germ plasm. No amount of
faithful, plodding apphcation can compensate for a lack of
the divine hereditary spark at the start."

Even between twins there are sometimes observable the
most marked differences, either physically or mentally.
The one may be retiring and modest in the extreme; or he
may be dull at his studies, or slow of comprehension, or chol-
eric in temperament. The other, child of the same par-
ents, of the same age, and the product of identical pre-natal
and post-natal forces, may be a leader in his group, bril-
liant in study, of happy, sanguinary temperament. The
one may likewise be tall, the other short; the one stout,
the other slim. All these and many other divergencies may


appear. The general rule, however, will hold; viz.: that
children of the same family are more hke than they are
unhke. Thorndike found, for instance, upon measuring
fifty pairs of twins in the New York City schools, that the
resemblance between them was greater than between other
children not so related. And yet it is quite possible, and
often actually so happens, that one of the twins may draw
50 per cent or more of his character from one parent, while
the other of the two draws similarly from the other. Or,
again, the one might be possessed of a blended inheritance,
while the other was not; or the two might draw any per-
centage of their respective characters from different an-
cestors further back than their immediate parentage.

The inevitableness of heredity. Enough has been said
in the last few lessons to demonstrate the inevitableness of
heredity. It matters not whether the ancestral line be one
like that of Max Jukes, or Martin Kallikak, or whether, on
the other hand, it be one like that of Napoleon, or Bach, or
Haydn, its perpetuation in offspring of like characteristics
is absolute. This simply means, applied to the average
children with whom you will be thrown in contact in your
everyday teaching, that children and parents are chips off
the same ancestral block, whether that block be rotten or
sound. This being true, the first limit which is set to your
beneficent work as teachers is that set by the ancestry
of those whom you would teach. It is impossible for the
teacher to create capacities which are foreign to the heredi-
tary stock of any child. She may labor incessantly and ex-
haust all the fine arts of her teaching methods ; at best she can
only provide a favorable setting in which the traits handed
on from other generations may find favorable opportunity
for unfolding in the present. Beyond this she is not able
to go. The famous contention of Jefferson that all men are
created free and equal should, in the hght of heredity, read,
" all children are born bound and unequal," for surely orig-
inal nature varies in all of us.

This suggests the need of a larger amount of individual


work and attention devoted to all children in school. If
every child differs inherently from every other child, it is
the duty and responsibility of the school system to dis-
cover very early in the school life of the child any peculiar
and promising traits which he may possess, or any marked
limitations in capacity in order that the school environment
may be so manipulated as to be made of the greatest possi-
ble advantage to him. At the present time, as you are
aware, there are a great number of children to be found in
almost all school systems who are distinctly below the av-
erage in mental endowment, and whose presence within
any given grade operates to retard the progress of the whole
group of children of average ability, to say nothing of the
effect upon the progress of those few in the upper third of
the grade whose abilities are marked. To such children the
average teacher is compelled to devote an amount of time
out of all proportion to their number and merits ; or else she
is forced to the opposite extreme and tends to neglect such
children of meager equipment, in spite of the fact that
actually those are the very pupils who stand most in need
of every possible effort in their behalf.

Deviation from the normal. We have already referred to
•this principle of deviation from the normal, or average. In
any group of adult human beings, for example, it will be
found upon investigation that the great mass approximate
a certain fairly uniform height, which we may call the av-
erage. But on the one extreme from the average will be a
small percentage of the total number whose height deviates
by several inches from the average, while on the opposite
extreme will be found a relatively similar percentage whose
deviation from the average is likewise several inches, hut
in the opposite direction. That is, for example, the average
height of the mass of men may be five feet and eight inches ;
but there will be a few who are not more than five feet tall,
with intermediate heights all the way up to the medium.
There will also be a few who measure perhaps six feet and
two or three or more inches, with intermediate heights again


all the way downward to the medium. This same principle
holds true of mental capacities and abilities. The great
mass of children in a given grade will perhaps rank around
90 per cent; at the same time there will be variants from
this average down to 70 per cent, or 50 per cent, and perhaps
much lower. A few children will rank at 100 per cent, or at
98 per cent, or 95 per cent, and will constitute distinctly a
grade of intelligence well above the average. Of course it
must be borne in mind that there are many children who
are kept back from attaining their own maximum rate of
progress from purely extraneous reasons, such as illness, or
inability to use and understand readily the English lan-
guage, or from related causes, and we must be careful to
make allowances for all such possible circumstances in
judging the innate abilities of children.

We might extend our application of this law of deviation
from the average to every subject of study. Some children,
for instance, will be very backward in arithmetic, while
others will be unusually capable — the mass will fall mid-
way between both extremes. So with most other studies,
and not infrequently the same child who ranks as "ex-
cellent" in literature may rank as "poor" in mathematics,
although such specializations of abilities in the common
subjects of the elementary school are probably less often
met with than might be supposed. Back of all these vari-
ablenesses and discrepancies of abilities in school children,
more potent than environment, stand the inexorable laws
of heredity. You can no more set them aside than you
can set aside any of nature's laws : they can be mitigated to
a limited extent, but never effaced or altered.

We have now looked sufficiently into the nature of he-
redity and its laws to be able to appreciate that there is no
sharp line of demarcation which divides all children into
distinct classes labeled "normal" and "abnormal," respec-
tively. Rather the intricate possibilities of the germ plasm
are such that one level of intelligence shades off almost im-
perceptibly into a lower level, on the one hand and, on the


other, into a higher one, until by slow gradation the two
opposite poles of mental endowment are reached. The
lower of these is intellectual zero, the higher represents
genius. Without exception, the place occupied by any
individual upon this scale depends upon his heritage or
non-heritage of talent. We shall return to this subject in
Lessons 41 and 42, when we shall inquire more specifically
into the characteristics of dull and of brighter children.


1. Is it according to your observation that children resemble on the
whole their parents? Do you know of any marked exceptions to this

2. Compute mathematically the number of direct ancestors you have
had since 1620, allowing thirty years to each generation.

3. Do you know of any cases in which normal parents have markedly
subnormal children? Can you explain such apparent inversions of
natural law?

4. Do you know of any children who possess conspicuous talent in any
line? Is there any immediate explanation of this in their parentage
so far as you know it?

5. Study the origin of the normal probability curve. (Reference 3.)


1. Conklin, E. G. Heredity and Environment in the Development of Men,
chap. 3.

2. Norsworthy, N., and Whitley, M. T. Psychology of Childhood, chap. 1.

3. Walter, H. E. Genetics, chap. 12.

4. Popenoe, P., and Johnson, R. H. Applied Eugenics, chap. 3.



What to look for in the observation period :

1. Evidences of the persistence in the children of bad habits of
speech. Can you tell roughly the class of home from which
many a boy and girl comes by their speech habits?

2. If possible, observe a lesson in reading in the seventh or
eighth grades, and determine whether the story that is being
studied is of a tj'pe that should naturally make an appeal to
the interests of boys and girls of thirteen or fourteen years of

3. Are there any appointments or factors in the general environ-
ment of the school which you think might have an unsalu-
tary influence upon the pupils? What are some especially
fortunate mouldmg influences in the surroundings?

Heredity versus environment. In the preceding lessons
in heredity it may have appeared that environmental
factors seem to play only a slight part in the evolution of
the child. It is necessary now, however, to turn to a more
complete statement concerning environment, which after
all is a highly important and significant factor in the de-
velopment of every one of us. Within the meaning of the
term environment are included all those forces in the ex-
ternal surroundings of the child which influence in any way
his mental or physical or moral growth. Now if you will
pause to consider the matter for a moment you will be com-
pelled to conclude that there are very few things indeed in
the world of the child which do not in some way have a
bearing upon him. His home, school, playmates, church,
all modify in some way his original nature and exert a pro-
nounced influence over his behavior. Of two boys, for ex-
ample, possessed of similar original endowments, the en-
vironmental forces of the one may exert such a profound


Online LibraryLawrence Augustus AverillPsychology for normal schools → online text (page 16 of 30)