Necessity Of Securing Attention And Effort

The child's intelligence is to be judged by his success in the performance of

certain tasks. These tasks may appear to the examiner to be very easy, indeed;

but we must bear in mind that they are often anything but easy for the child.

Real effort and attention are necessary for his success, and occasionally

even his best efforts fall short of the desired result. If the tests are

to display the child's real intellectual ability i
will be necessary,

therefore, to avoid as nearly as possible every disturbing factor which

would divide his attention or in any other way injure the quality of

his responses. To insure this it will be necessary to consider somewhat

in detail a number of factors which influence effort, such as degree of

quiet, the nature of surroundings, presence or absence of others, means

of gaining the child's confidence, the avoidance of embarrassment,

fatigue, etc.

One should not expect, however, to secure an absolutely equal degree of

attention from all subjects. The power to give sustained attention to a

difficult task is characteristically weak in dull and feeble-minded

children. What we should labor to secure is the maximum attention of

which the child is capable, and if this is unsatisfactory without

external cause, we are to regard the fact as symptomatic of inferior

mental ability, not as an extenuating factor or an excuse for lack of

success in the tests.

Attention, of course, cannot be normal if any acute physical or mental

disturbance is present. Toothache, headache, earache, nausea, fever,

cold, etc., all render the test inadvisable. The same is true of mental

anxiety or fear, as in the case of the child who has just been arrested

and brought before the court.