Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/101

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89
A STUDY OF CHILDREN'S IDEALS.

1. Acquaintances.
2. Historical characters, past or contemporary.
3. Characters from literature.

The comparative importance of each source at different ages is shown in Chart I.

As might be expected, the younger children pay little attention to the outside world. At seven years of age forty-seven per cent of the children find their ideals in father or mother, in neighbor or friend, thirty-nine per cent in literature, and fourteen per cent in history.

PSM V53 D101 Chart of sources of ideals.png
Chart No. 1.—Sources of Ideals.
 History - - - - -  Literature - · - · -  Acquaintances ————

But this relation changes with great rapidity, the two former elements steadily growing less important, until, at the age of sixteen, eighty per cent of the children's ideals are historical characters, twelve per cent characters from literature, and only eight per cent are acquaintances.

All this indicates strongly the expansion of the child's personality. The world of a young child, centering at first, so psychologists tell us, about his mouth, does not grow much larger than the circle of his own immediate desires and needs before the age of seven. Those characters, either real or imaginary, to whom he feels his personal relation therefore furnish his ideals. But he soon begins to feel his integration with the outside world. He reaches out beyond his own little circle, endeavoring to form some bond with the larger world. He is growing into the social consciousness, which makes him akin to all those who have felt and hoped and acted as he feels and hopes and desires to act. The characters of literature become secondary to the authors who created them. The great men of all