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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/609

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key was removed to a distant room. Here there were three keys of this kind, any one of which would register. One key each was arranged for tapping with the big toes; the third key could be tapped by either right or left index finger.

On the first day all four digits—right and left index fingers and right and left large toes—were carefully tested in tapping as rapidly as possible. Thereafter the right large toe was practiced daily in tapping for several weeks, the other digits being left unpracticed. At the end all four digits were again tested. Four of the six persons experimented upon showed a gain for the right large toe—that is, for the digit practiced; the other two showed a slight loss, due unquestionably to "over-practice," or "over-training."

All of those who gained for the right large toe gained for the other digits also. Their average gains were: Right foot, thirty-three per cent; left foot, thirty-one per cent; right hand, twenty-one per cent; left hand, thirty-one per cent. Even both of the "over-trained" men gained for the left foot and one of them gained for the left hand. Thus we have reached the third step—the effects of practice are extended to various parts of the body.

Beyond the third step the experimental investigations have not yet advanced, but I believe that sooner or later we shall be able to establish the fact that development of those forms of the will involved in simple muscular activities does also develop the more complicated forms that express themselves in acts of a mental nature.

It has long been claimed that sports, games, and manual occupations are among the best developers of character. Football develops solidarity of feeling and action; running rapids or cross-country hunting develop coolness in danger and promptness and firmness of judgment; wood-turning requires boldness and foresight; forge work requires regulation and reserve of power, and so on. This is no place for an account of the psychology of sports and occupations, but if the reader has ever tried any of these things and failed he will easily recognize the lacking mental quality.

Yet there has never been but one attempt, as far as I can learn, to organize a system of manual occupations on the basis of this principle. The success of the attempt furnishes, I believe, the still-lacking laboratory proof of the principle itself. I refer to the remarkable experiment of Mr. Z. R. Brockway, Superintendent of the Elmira Reformatory.

Most of the young felons sent to the Elmira Reformatory are set to learning trades, by which they can support themselves on leaving. Those, however, who are too stupid to even learn the sim-