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


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.