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The Game Of Patience








MATERIAL. Prepare two rectangular cards, each 2 x 3 inches, and divide
one of them into two triangles by cutting it along one of its diagonals.

PROCEDURE. Place the uncut card on the table with one of its longer
sides to the child. By the side of this card, a little nearer the child
and a few inches apart, lay the two halves of the divided rectangle with
their hypothenuses turned from each other as follows:


Then say to the child: "_I want you to take these two pieces_ (touching
the two triangles) _and put them together so they will look exactly like
this_" (pointing to the uncut card). If the child hesitates, we repeat
the instructions with a little urging. Say nothing about hurrying, as
this is likely to cause confusion. Give three trials, of one minute
each. If only one trial is given, success is too often a result of
chance moves; but luck is not likely to bring two successes in three
trials. If the first trial is a failure, move the cut halves back to
their original position and say: "_No; put them together so they will
look like this_" (pointing to the uncut card). Make no other comment of
approval or disapproval. Disregard in silence the inquiring looks of the
child who tries to read his success or failure in your face.

If one of the pieces is turned over, the task becomes impossible, and it
is then necessary to turn the piece back to its original position and
begin over, not counting this trial. Have the under side of the pieces
marked so as to avoid the risk of presenting one of them to the child
wrong side up.

SCORING. There must be _two successes in three trials_. About the only
difficulty in scoring is that of deciding what constitutes a trial. We
count it a trial when the child brings the pieces together and (after
few or many changes) leaves them in some position. Whether he succeeds
after many moves, or leaves the pieces with approval in some absurd
position, or gives up and says he cannot do it, his effort counts as one
trial. A single trial may involve a number of unsuccessful changes of
position in the two cards, but these changes may not consume altogether
more than one minute.

REMARKS. As aptly described by Binet, the operation has the following
elements: "(1) To keep in mind the end to be attained, that is to say,
the figure to be formed. It is necessary to comprehend this end and not
to lose sight of it. (2) To try different combinations under the
influence of this directing idea, which guides the efforts of the child
even though he be unconscious of the fact. (3) To judge the formed
combination, compare it with the model, and decide whether it is the
correct one."

It may be classed, therefore, as one of the many forms of the
"combination method." Elements must be combined into some kind of whole
under the guidance of a directing idea. In this respect it has something
in common with the form-board test, the Ebbinghaus test, and the test
with dissected sentences (XII, 4). Binet designates it a "test of
patience," because success in it depends upon a certain willingness to
persist in a line of action under the control of an idea.

Not all failures in this test are equally significant. A bright child of
5 years sometimes fails, but usually not without many trial combinations
which he rejects one after another as unsatisfactory. A dull child of
the same age often stops after he has brought the pieces into any sort
of juxtaposition, however absurd, and may be quite satisfied with his
foolish effort. His mind is not fruitful and he lacks the power of
auto-criticism.

It would be well worth while to work out a new and somewhat more
difficult "test of patience," but with special care to avoid the
puzzling features of the usual games of anagrams. The one given us by
Binet is rather easy for year V, though plainly somewhat too difficult
for year IV.





Next: Three Commissions

Previous: Giving Definitions In Terms Of Use



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