Typos p. 172: Sexual theorie [= Sexualtheorie]
The Adult's Master Cards
3. The Club Card. This, as we have seen, is the child's hereditary endowment, and the extent to which it can be played with effect will depend upon our knowledge of the child's antecedents. This, by virtue of what each parent should know of the other and of the other's stock, ought to be every decently married couple's possession by right.
Naturally it would be useless to advise the poor rural maid, raped by an American negro in the War of Polish Independence, to play this card in the rearing of her bastard child. Nor would it serve any purpose to advise those to play it who have in haste married some stranger or foreigner of whose background they know nothing. Hence the importance of starting a family only with one whose antecedents you know, and whose stock and their performance are familiar to you. Hence, too, the danger of adopting children in any circumstances forbidding acquaintance with their background. As I happen to know of no instance of this in my own circle in which the ignorance in question has not been dearly paid for, and can vouch for one case in which the père adoptif, an eminent and gifted doctor, actually warned my wife and me, knowing us to be childless, against adoption in general, I speak with some experience of the matter.
What, then, does this card amount to? It amounts to your knowing beforehand, or your being able at least to reckon beforehand on the probable course and outcome of your child's development, and to your being able to act and provide accordingly.
Does this make any substantial difference? It makes a
Guyau speaks about "the result of education through the ages" being "fixed in heredity itself." Thus he adds, "the right direction may be naturally facilitated or partly determined by heredity"; and he concludes, "the civilized child . . . is quite ready to bend to the yoke of this inward law." By the latter he means an instinctive leaning towards behaving in a civilized manner. (Op. cit., pp. 99110.)
It amounts to this, then, that we may, or we may not, according to the sum of knowledge we possess of our child's antecedents, rest more or less assured that, no matter what the setbacks and apparent failures may be, our child is after all civilizable to a certain high or low degree.
I believe Guyau to be essentially right here and feel sure that he does not exaggerate the importance of the certainty of such knowledge. For it must influence our mood and temper as educators, and above all allow for latitude in circumstances where ignorance might force our hand to panicky and unduly severe measures.
From the certainty that we are guiding and leading a creature already disposed to fall in with the step we set him and meet us half way in our task of rendering him valid for society, we shall derive not only the courage but also the confident patience for our difficult task. We are not groping in the dark. We are not trying to make a setter of a sheep-dog. Knowing that our child is civilizable, the probable direction his development will take, and the form his ultimate fashioning at our hands is likely to assume, we shall not need to exert either undue pressure or unnecessary severity. We shall be able to watch and wait without harassing doubts, overlook merely temporary vagaries, and condone backslidings which we may suspect of being but transitory. No need for such alarm over untoward manifestations as to resort to drastic steps to suppress them;
For we must always bear in mind a fact generally overlooked by psychologists and educators that, since education and training constitute environmental forces acting on the individual, it must follow that the stronger the individual's nature may be and the more deeply rooted his civilized impulses through the general character of his stock, the less important environmental influences become.
That is not to say that education, training and discipline may be neglected in the development of the individual of strong decent proclivities, but only that anxiety as to their ultimate triumph and the rigour of the methods employed may be substantially diminished. Thus, in the weakly endowed and in those, above all, whose stock has handed on to them either impaired or defective civilized impulses, education, training and discipline assume a much higher degree of importance, and the rigour of the methods employed in applying them has necessarily to be more severe.
Let no one suppose, however, that the Club Card is one to which all competent psychologists would subscribe. On the contrary! Against it are arrayed all those who argue that environment and environmental influences, alone, determine character and ultimate behaviour. Forgetting the principle already enunciated that environment only assumes decisive importance where there is weak endowment, environmentalists are too prone to argue as if the whole world of human beings consisted of weak natures.
Adler, for instance, referring to the belief in inherited ability and potentialities, and never once differentiating
As this represents the extreme claim of the environmentalists, it will hardly be necessary to quote any others, especially as Adler's name and reputation constitute him, at least at present, the supreme advocate of their point of view.
I need hardly point out that there are many impressive facts and arguments as well as eminent authorities against this claim. Even if the issue were left to the decision of the average experienced and practical man, be he farmer, stockbreeder, geneticist or merely the father of a family, there can be little doubt that it would go against Adler and his sympathizers.
The discussion of the whole problem would take too long here and I have not the space for it. It all turns on whether we may or may not postulate the existence of hereditary mechanisms which account for innate character, whether strong or weak, in every individual. I have, however, already covered the ground in so many of my previous books, that the reader who is sufficiently interested can refer to them, especially my Defence of Aristocracy and my Choice of a Mate.
Suffice it to say, then, that ever since the discovery of the work of the monk, Mendel, and the facts relating to the transmission of stock qualities by means of the "genes" of the germ plasm, the validity of the findings of such of the older biologists as Darwin, Professor Thomson, Reibmayr, etc., has been so far established that to-day the fact that characters are inherited and that, therefore, every living creature enters the world equipped with certain propensities and inherited abilities or disabilities derived from ancestors, is no longer seriously disputed.
Thus, concerning the nature of the organism and the
For instance, although in the light of his doctrines relating to the importance of early impressions and repressions, psychogenic traumata, complexes, etc., we might hastily assume that Freud regards the native psycho-physical endowments of the individual as negligible in the formation of his ultimate character and in determining his behaviour, we find him careful to give due weight to the influence of predisposition and inherited character. For he writes: "we should never forget that the two (i.e., the constitutional factors and the accidents of environment) are related in the form of co-operation and neither excludes the other. The constitutional factors have to wait for the stimuli coming from environment in order to assert themselves, and the accidents of environment rely on constitutional factors for the nature of their effect." (Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexual theorie, p. 10.)
Again, in his New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (p. 167), Freud illustrates this point and adds: "The preponderance of the constitutional factor seems undeniable."
It is clear, then, that Freud regards the accidents of environment not as generating but merely as calling forth certain characteristics innate in the individual, and developing and defining them. Aichhorn shares this point of view.
Pfister also points out (Op. cit., p. 330) that "a child's hereditary aptitudes are manifested by the way in which he reacts to external influences. The same stimulus, such as an attack by a dog, will induce a different response in different persons. . . . As regards the varying significance of heredity and environment, it is with human beings as with plants. The characteristics of the plant depend more upon the seed than the soil."
We have already seen (pp. 94, 95 supra) that W. Stekel takes the same view indeed that he will not even admit that psychogenic traumata can cause neuroses if a congenital predisposition thereto is not already present: whilst Guyau, Naomi Norsworthy and Mary Whitley all concur. Dr. Maria Montessori whom, owing to her southern realism, I expected to find in my camp, did not disappoint me. She says: "Environment is undoubtedly a secondary factor in the phenomena of life. . . . The environment acts more strongly upon the individual life the less fixed and strong that individual life may be." (The Montessori Method, p. 105). This last point confirms the claim I made on pp. 178, and it is surprising that a man of Adler's acumen should have overlooked it.
C. W. Valentine is emphatic on the point and joins issue with those psychologists who, like Adler, deny the influence of inherited characters. In his excellent book (Op. cit., p. 18), he writes: "It is especially surprising that some medical psychologists pay so little attention to what is, after all a plain biological fact, namely the fact of inborn individual variation," and he emphatically contests "the dogmatic assertion that all delinquents or difficult children
From what I have said about the disastrous effects of "spoiling," "pampering" and indulging the child in its attempts at autonomy, some readers may have inferred that I, too, incline to the belief that environment is all powerful and actually generates evil or other propensities in the child. Truth to tell, this would amount to a misunderstanding of my point of view. What I have all along been trying to establish is not the fact that "spoiling" and otherwise indulging the child in his desire for autonomy introduces any new feature into his nature which was not originally there, but that, by pursuing these mistaken courses, the child is deprived of the knowledge of the real world, and of the limits it imposes upon the dictates of his Pleasure Principle. He is robbed of the early experiences which alone can enable him to adjust his Pleasure Principle to the demands of the real world and to develop those of his potentialities which might, if he is happily endowed, make him a decently behaved, normal and efficient social being.
This is a very different matter from denying, as Adler does, the potency, in fact the very existence, of native endowment, and therefore the possibility of reckoning with it, building upon it, and developing it.
As Guilfoyle Williams puts it, "the normal, healthy child has inherited capabilities both for good and bad types of behaviour. The impulse in favour of one direction may initially be stronger than its opposite; but if conditions favour the development of the weaker impulse, then the weaker impulse will become the pattern of behaviour, and will in time become a firm and fixed habit, so that in the grown individual it is the stronger impulse." (Op. cit., p. 59).
Students of Adler, however, will know that, in this matter and it is not the only one there is a grave inconsistency in his views, I cannot deal with all his major
In the first place, to deny, as Adler does, the existence of an inherited predisposition in the child and to say that "he who believes in innate characteristics cannot and should not educate children," amounts to challenging his reiterated claim, running like a leit motif through all his works, that all children, like all adults, are animated by a Will to Power, or what Aristotle termed an "aspiration after ascendancy."
But, in Adler's writings, there is evidence of even worse confusion than this; for, on p. 299 of his Education of Children he makes this damaging admission. He says, "The formation of the auditory organ is inherited, and that is why both musical talent and ear trouble are passed on from generation to generation"!
If, however, musical talent and a tendency to ear trouble, may thus be transmitted, how can Adler deny the possibility, or the fact that other characters may be inherited? Has he so exhaustively investigated the matter as to be able to state positively that peculiarities of the auditory organ alone can be handed on from ancestor to descendant and thus determine a predisposition to ear trouble and musical talent? Even if this were so, it would still constitute an important exception to his sweeping generalization.
It is difficult not to suspect in Adler's denial of hereditary propensities and of their rôle in education but another attempt on his part at being different from his great colleague and whilom friend, Sigmund Freud; and in this respect, perhaps, one may be tempted to regard some of the charges advanced against him by certain psycho-analysts as not unjustified.
But this by the way.
Summing up, then, we have seen that the Club Card, as a means of keeping one steadfast and confident throughout the more difficult and sometimes discouraging stages of child-
4. The Diamond Card. Of all the cards in the parents' hands, this is by far the most difficult to play. For, since it depends for its power on the imitative faculty of the child, the influence it has upon his education and preparation for social life is almost wholly contingent, at least for his first five or six years, on what the parents themselves, in their own character and demeanour, present to him for imitation.
In this sense it is really a most severe discipline for the parents. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine any that could be more so, at least for those parents who face their duties conscientiously. For the whole of the active process is in their hands. The child is but a passive and unconscious recorder. They are the operators. He is merely the sensitive plate, automatically taking the picture they set before him. The way they pose as models, he will reproduce with more or less perfect fidelity. Just as, in time, his ear will enable him accurately to render every intonation and accent of their speech so that, be their dialect what it may, he will speak it as they do and know no other; so his eyes, for ever watching and studying them, to the extent that no gesture, or mood, or character trait, escapes him, will eventually give him the pattern, the paragon, on which he will mould himself. Nor will this be a deliberate or
"Maîtres," said Rousseau, "laissez les simagrées, soyez vertueux et bons, que vos exemples se gravent dans la mémoire de vos élèves." And he adds, "il faut bien faire imiter aux enfants les actes dont on veut leur donner l'habitude." (Emile Livre II.)
If they are bullies, lack self-control, and flare up and shout insults at the slightest provocation, he will be a bully, unself-controlled and ready to bawl obscenities if he is crossed. If they indulge in superficial, unfounded, slap-dash judgments, lies, petty deceptions and boasts, he will in later years display the same traits. Let them be inconsistent, bad-tempered, sulky and weak-willed, and he will be like them. If they are highly critical of others and quite uncritical of themselves, he will follow suit. If they always crave for praise and explode at the first word of censure, he will show the same pleasant humour. And if they tend to habitual rudeness and truculence, because they fear lest, by being polite, they will bemean themselves, or sound servile, he will grow up suspecting that every "please" or "thank you" he pronounces is a surrender of his dignity. And so on ad infinitum.
A horrible thought!
Yes! And how many potential parents prepare themselves adequately for the task of parading a desirable model before the eyes of their offspring? How many have enough self-discipline to ensure that the model will be one the child can safely copy without becoming a social misfit or nuisance? The poor mannequin at a West End dressmaker's is often more conscientious in parading her employer's wares before his customers than are millions of parents in parading before their children the type society needs for its health and sanity.
It is this super-ego which, when he grows up, will become "the representative of the moral demands made by the society in which he lives." And Anna Freud adds: "We know that it owes its origin to the (child's) identification with the first and most important of the child's love objects, the parents." To them society transfers "the task of establishing its current ethical claims on the child and enforcing the restrictions upon instinct which it prescribes." (The Psycho-Analytical Treatment of Children (pp. 41, 84, 85.)
The child's identification of itself with its parents. There's the rub!
For the parents it is a question of keeping themselves well in hand, and for this reason alone parenthood should have a chastening effect upon all those adults who embark upon it. The average adult, called upon to parade before his fellows and under no educational obligation to them, endeavours not only to look tidy but also to behave in a decent manner. Is the parent, then, whose life is one continuous parade, and whose parade is educative, to treat the function more lightly?
He may be incapable of the self-discipline required. In that case his children and the society they enter will inevitably suffer.
This seems to be what Herbert Spencer meant when, in Education (Chap. III) he stated: "It is a truth yet remaining to be recognized, that the last stage in the mental develop-
Why? Because it is the last deeply chastening experience of their lives or it should be. Those who fail to appreciate this cannot have thought about the child, the secret life of its senses, and the adaptive processes of its years of development.
For every child, no matter how dense, watches the giants about him with unflagging and penetrating attention. So assiduously and unabatingly is he thus employed that he registers every detail of their behaviour and is ready to exploit every scrap of knowledge he acquires. As Fontenelle observed, "les enfants sont bien plus pénétrants qu'on ne croit." (Op. Cit., Chap. V.) "Nothing in his environment, physical or social, escapes the child," declares Edwin A. Kirkpatrick, "he absorbs and makes it all a part of himself by reproducing, and thus getting a subjective knowledge of it." (Fundamentals of Child Study, p. 131.)
To a very great extent it is by means of this persevering watchfulness that he shapes his own behaviour. His imitative faculty secures this end regardless of his wishes in the matter. It is so efficient that many quite useless and sometimes absurd parental tricks and mannerisms will be found mirrored with rigorous fidelity in his own behaviour. The relevant literature abounds with examples of his unselective and accurate mimicry.
All great educators have known this. Early in the sixteenth century, for instance, Erasmus pointed out that "Nature has made the first years of our life prone to imitation . . . and with imitativeness she has given also tenacity in retention." He also asserted that "Nature has planted in the youngest child an ape-like instinct of imitation," and he adds, "It is as instinctive with children to imitate as it is easy for them to remember." (Op. cit., 495B496A, 500A501A, 501C502E). John Locke a century later took much the same view (Op. cit., Sections 67 and 93).
Frank Howard Richardson regards imitation as "the most potent influence in child culture" (Op. cit., Chap. V) and Guyau believed that even will-power was acquired by this faculty. (Op. cit., p. 34). Indeed, in this matter, Wordsworth himself saw clearly and rather redeems his other formidable errors; for in the same poem which I censured in Chapter II, he wrote of the child's mimicry:
"As if his whole vocation
Were endless imitation."
For this reason, as I have pointed out, the Diamond is the Card in the parents' hand which is at once the most difficult to play, and probably the most decisive from the educational point of view. True, the onus is all on the parent, but it allows of endless exploitation. It was Sully's opinion that even the habit of lying was acquired through adult example, and it is not unlikely that in a great many cases this is true. He said, "where a child is brought up . . . in a habitually truth-speaking community, he tends, quite apart from moral instruction, to acquire a respect for truth as what is customary." (Op. cit., p. 264).
And can it be doubted that the constant example of adult inconsistencies, breaches of faith and broken promises, can fail to rear in the child a contempt for the rules of decent conduct which these courses infringe? Will such an example not inevitably render him incapable of keeping his word and of expecting others to do likewise?
Thus, in her hair-raising description of a gang of London children, Marie Paneth writes: "They have come against so many promises which were not kept, so many words given which were broken afterwards, so much insincere talk, that they are cynical to the core." (Op. cit., p. 55). She found
To return to our Diamond Card, however, it seems hardly necessary to point out that, played with skill, under the exercise of constant vigilance directed at one's own demeanour, and with an awareness of the fact that, owing to the child's extreme plasticity and mimicry, there can be scarcely any limit to its creative power, this card is a god-sent aid to parents in their difficult task. By means of it, if they choose, they can be sculptors fashioning their offspring beyond their own pre-marital standards. The scope is unlimited and the possibilities, therefore, fabulous.
Unfortunately, owing to the frailty and irresponsibility of the majority of adults, the card is too often thrown away and wasted. And since, in the game of life, there can be no learning at the hands of an obliging partner who holds a post mortem on one's method of play, the sacrifice of the Diamond Card is usually an irrevocable act, and its loss can never be compensated.
Before concluding this discussion of the Diamond Card, I must refer to two aspects of the factors on which its power depends. I refer to the bearing the child's imitative faculty has on the question of co-education, and on the question of education by teachers of a sex opposite to the child's.
Education has long ceased from being regarded as a process of imparting merely factual knowledge. Locke, Kant and Herbart, long ago, did away with that idea, whilst the best traditions of all civilized peoples were always against it, as we may learn from their practice. It is essentially a means of preparing children for their ultimate life in society. The acquisition of factual knowledge is only secondary. It is but apart of a much larger whole. Locke, for instance, said in his Thoughts concerning Education (Section 147), "You will wonder, perhaps, that I put Learning last, especially if I tell you I think it the least part."
Now, among the more powerful disciplines (more powerful because largely unconscious) that may be used deliberately in preparing the child for the real world, is undoubtedly imitation. But if, in our co-educational schools, we cannot help constantly placing women teachers before boys and male teachers before girls and year in year out in such schools the practice cannot be avoided we are presenting them for a considerable period of their most impressionable years with a model unable to give them a picture of what they should grow up to be.
The reader may object, as many co-educationists, including even the wise sexologist, Magnus Hirschfeld, have already done, that surely this is so in the average home, where both the mother and father are constantly before their children's eyes as models. This is true. But, because the arrangement is inevitable in the family, it does not follow that it should be adopted by the schools, especially as the
Erasmus declared that "the mother's place should be taken by the father or tutor about the fifth year" for boys. (Op. cit., p. 87.) And in writing this, he was doubtless expressing a view which, far from appearing strange to his contemporaries, was probably but the reflection of a practice which had existed for centuries and was certainly widely established in the sixteenth century.
The fact that these wise customs led to trades and professions running in families, a tendency even enforced by law in certain countries, has been advanced by some moderns as an argument against them. But where is the harm of trades and professions running in family lines? Is not this the very way virtue, or rather virtu (capacity) in a certain direction acquires a cumulative power that ultimately bursts all barriers and makes for greatness? Are we who, in our family lines, change and change about, and alter our occupations, trades and professions in every generation, so exemplary, so gifted and so brilliant as to be able to criticize and condemn a system which produced a Knum-ab-ra, a Hippocrates, a Bach?
"Among the common people," said the Inca, Terpac Jupangi, "every man must learn his father's trade." (Letourneau, L'Evolution de l'Education, p. 199.) And we
We have reasons to believe, moreover, that the family with its two models, male and female, constantly before the eyes of the children, has certain serious drawbacks as an educational institution. Nor are the social successes achieved in countries where co-education is a common practice of a kind pour encourager les autres. On the basis of the divorce statistics of the U.S.A. alone it would be impossible to recommend co-education very warmly. But there is other evidence on this point, and the reader would do well to refer to what Dr. Meyrick Booth has to say about it in Chapter VIII of his Youth and Sex.
I do not agree with those opponents of co-education who regard it as dangerous to the morals of the children concerned. Nor do I accept the view of those who, as at the Berlin Conference on Education in May, 1925, claimed that the sexes should be separated in the schools only between the ages of fourteen and seventeen inclusive; for that would mean that during their more plastic years, and at a time when sex-character and demeanour were already becoming more sharply differentiated, the children would have the wrong model and would only be presented with the right one when their natures were beginning to harden into their final mould. Furthermore I do not adopt the view that co-education, by mutual influence of the sexes, would unduly soften the boys and masculinize the girls. I acknowledge that this position could be strongly defended. But, as compared with my objection to co-education, it is relatively feeble and inconclusive.
What I insist upon in this controversy and it is a fact that cannot be circumvented is that, if we are to believe about the slavish mimicry of children all that our own eyes and the competent authorities tell us, it cannot be otherwise than our imperative duty to give children such models for their emulation as bear a likeness to the adults they will sub-
This implies, of course, a corresponding condemnation, even in sex-segregated schools, of classes of children being taken by teachers of a sex opposite to those of the children concerned. But, until I published an article in the Daily Mail of April 6th, 1929, condemning the teaching of boys by women on the grounds outlined above, I have seen no mention in the Press of this approach to the subject. The reader is again advised to refer to Dr. Meyrick Booth, who, in Youth and Sex, Chapter VIII, abundantly confirms my standpoint.
Long ago, probably for the very reasons here advanced, Erasmus raised his voice against placing boys under the control of women (Op. cit., 504 AD.). But are we not bound, on the same principle, to object to the placing of girls under the control of men?
It seems to me that these conclusions are a necessary corollary to all that has been and can be argued on the importance in education of the imitative faculty of the child, and on the inevitable consequences of this faculty in the formation of character and behaviour-patterns. Nor do I believe that this aspect of the question would ever have been overlooked, as it has been, had not the advocacy of co-education happened to be closely knitted in time and general ideology with the Feminist Movement, both here and in America. This led to its hardly ever being discussed except with heat and emotional excitement on both sides. No wonder an essential aspect of it came to be wholly neglected!
5. The Spade Card. This card is a supporter of the Club Card. For the child's aspirations and ambition should, in the best circumstances, be prompted chiefly by its natural
As Guilfoyle Williams pertinently remarks, "it is a very poor service to raise ambitions in a man whose mental make-up is not fitted to responsibility" (Op. cit., p. 186). And the same is true of every burden which an individual thinks he can take upon himself in life. Long ago Nietzsche pointed out the folly of embarking on an enterprise beyond our strength.
Nevertheless, as an eclectic in matters psychological, it seems to me that Adler was abundantly justified in claiming that all human beings aspire to converting their original minus into a plus. In playing this card, therefore, and whether they use discreet praise and encouragement, or tactful criticism and dissuasion, parents, whilst studying what is reasonably feasible, should not a priori despair of a crescendo in their family achievements. I mean by this that, just as the Diamond Card, played in connexion with the child's mimicry, may enable them to mould their child beyond the standards they thought adequate for themselves before marriage, so the Spade Card may, with discretion and knowledge, be used for a similar end. Having satisfied themselves by consultation with others, capable of an objective estimate, that their child's ambition, although beyond their family's reach hitherto, is not completely fantastic and unrealizable, they may usefully kindle the flame and hasten the pace.
A gifted child may always be stimulated to apply himself with energy and determination to an unusually stiff climb, if his trust and respect for those who encourage him in it, and who have known when sincerely to praise and justifiably to blame his past conduct, are both deep and well-tried emotions. On the other hand, hearts, especially young
Adler thought the child's position in the family was often a contributory factor in the matter of ambition and that most children early in life select a pace-maker from among their siblings, on whom they base the amount of the plus they wish to achieve and the energy they devote to the effort (Praxis und Theorie der Individual Psychologie, especially Chap. XXVII, also elsewhere). There is probably some truth in this, and parents would be well advised to bear it in mind when estimating the feasibility of their children's ambitions.
Fundamentally, however, this Card, like the Club, can be played with skill only if we have some knowledge of our child's antecedents, coupled, of course, with an objective estimate of the child's actual powers. Since, however, the forming of an objective estimate of the child as an individual with certain gifts and shortcomings is notoriously the most difficult of a parent's tasks, if only because of the ever present danger of overestimation (especially by the mother), this card, as I have already hinted, can hardly be played effectively without the co-operation of some competent judge outside the family circle. Thus, it is always not merely wise but essential in this matter to consult a knowledgeable friend who has had reasonably frequent opportunities of observing the child over a long period, or else the child's form master or mistress; or, in families of religious traditions, the parish vicar or rector. Even a good doctor's views should not be discarded, since constitutional endowment, in some careers, is an important consideration.
Two rules, however, repeatedly stressed in the literature, should be rigidly observed:
1. Never dishearten a child by scoffing at his statement of his ambition, no matter what it may be.
If these rules are observed, together with the other hints given in this section and under the Club Card, the Spade Card can be played with effect, and often helps to transform a depressing minus into a pleasantly surprising plus.