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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/780

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Equally useful to the girl in the workroom as to the boy in the shop is this training of a ready eye, this quick intuition of balance and proportion, this practice of obedience of hand and arm to brain, until it becomes automatic. To both, therefore, the value of such preparation will be incalculable. It is noticeable that boys of this grade turn out as good workers in the ordinary crafts of shoemaking, carpentering, and house painting as those of higher grade who, although capable of grasping more intelligently the details of work, yet do not bring to it that energy and perseverance of one who finds in it "this one thing I do." With the imbecile of high grade, able to accomplish studies equal to about the first intermediate of the public schools, there is a diffusion of interest; the intelligence broadens rather than deepens during the school period in natural response to environment. With greater grasp of numerical values and of letters he attains proficiency impossible to the lower grades in drawing, in music, in printing, and in cabinet work. Other industries will probably be provided for him as the demand increases, for it must be remembered that this is a class whose needs have been the last to be recognized in a work begun, as I have before said, for the idiot. Regarded as queer, unlike other children—unable to keep up—he has, after an unsuccessful trial at school, been kept at home, in some cases an aid, in others a tyrant, to those relatives charged with his care.

Changed conditions of both family and school, fortunately for him, combine to render this no longer possible, as absence of proper training is always certain to result in deterioration. The pressure upon the primary schools in the struggle for higher education leaves no time to contend with dull, backward children. In the family the care-takers grow fewer in proportion as the home-makers become home-winners, and so these feeble ones are a burden instead of an aid in the ordinary household offices.

The next hope is a training school where, with false hopes fostered by ignorance and sensationalism, they are entered, and after a few years, a time all too short for any lasting benefit, a sentimentality equally stupid withdraws them from that guardianship absolutely essential, with just that little knowledge which will render them more dangerous to society, because less recognizable—an evil element perpetuating an evil growth. Under both conditions these unfortunates have suffered from that lack-t>f constant care and supervision which should be theirs from the cradle to the grave.

The separation of backward children in the schools and the placing of them in special classes tor special training is the first step in the right direction. Here, after sufficient time for observation and diagnosing by teacher and physician, the defectives so adjudged will naturally drift to the training schools for the feeble-minded; these,