From the L.R. Reeve* collection of short sketches of people he had met - this affectionate piece about psychologist C.W. Valentine (1879-1964). He wrote many books on psychology and was the editor of The British Journal of Educational Psychology for its first 25 years. Wikipedia (so far) knows him not.. Reeve saw him lecture several times...
Professor C. W. Valentine
Forty years ago I used to believe that Professor C. W. Valentine was one of the most reliable psychologists in England. Time has never changed my opinion, for on the many occasions when I have listened to him, or read about him he has always left me with the same impression of steadiness and sense of proportion so that one always felt that any declaration from him was the result of an objective mind which had arrived at a conclusion after exhaustive study.
I can, however, express a decided opinion on one of his books: an early volume on intelligence tests. Years ago an elderly colleague of mine was pestered by his newly qualified daughter to advise her on the best intelligence tests. He came to me. I took Valentine's book to school. We went into a huddle. He gave the tests according to instructions. Because I didn't know his boys I marked and assessed the results. A few days later he came to me beaming. "I have known every boy for at least six months and your marks are perfect." Salutations to Professor Valentine. And if the book in question is now out of print so much the worse for intelligence tests and education in general. No doubt the usual gibe 'old-fashioned' will be objected by superficial minds. Well, eating, drinking, breathing, speech and many other things are of ancient custom; when, therefore, the phrase ‘old-fashioned, is presented one can usually suspect a feeble argument, something like a lawyer's dictum, "When you have a weak case attack the man."
As already implied C. W. Valentine was an exceptionally wise, dynamic, fascinating, well-informed speaker, he was no mere spell-binder using oratory to cover a number of weaknesses. Perhaps he might be termed a logical psychologist, whose presentation invariably impelled every listener’s concentrated attention, and my outstanding memory is of the occasion when he gave a paper to one of the sections at the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. He told us, he had distributed several photographs of not-very-well-known people to one adult class in Birmingham and had asked his students to delineate character from the photographs. One woman gazed at the features of a certain journalist. "He looks like a murderer," she declared. The yell of laughter at Valentine's announcement must, I think, have been the loudest ever heard at the British Association. A few days later the journalist gave his comments on the woman’s observation, "I have been called many things in my life, but never before have I heard that I look like a murderer.”
Again, at a certain meeting during one congress, at discussion time a young platform speaker was unable fully to answer a query from the floor. It was, I feel sure, Valentine who jumped up and announced, "I can tell you what my friend is trying to say," and immediately did so to the relief of the perplexed sufferer, who had been reading the paper of another man unable to attend the conference. It is possible that the subject was "What is the Meaning of Meaning?" and it is possible that the occasion was during the International Congress of Philosophy at Oxford.
No wonder I always experienced a thrill of expectation whenever Valentine was about to lecture or join in a symposium. He brought a powerful breath of realism into any assembly and was always a dynamic figure who quickly spotted the illogical points of any theory and I never discovered any assertion which I could challenge with confidence. I never, for instance, questioned the validity of even one of his intelligence tests. All were useful and as reliable as Spearman's foot-rule formula of measurement.
I must here digress to affirm that half a century ago I thought that the two most formidable publications on experimental psychology were Valentine's Intelligence Tests and The American Army Tests, by Oakam and Yerkes. Since then I have repeatedly read sarcastic reviews of both books, and in both cases the critical reviewers have unashamedly published their own tests which have a strange resemblance to those of the early pioneers.
During my life’s study of psychology I think I should rely as much on Valentine’s opinion as on that of any other psychologist, not excepting even McDougall or Crichton-Miller. Moreover he was particularly reliable on child psychology for, as I have already mentioned in another connection, he had at least two sons; a fact which enabled him to support theory with fact. We are bedevilled in all grades of society and in almost every sphere of learning by theorists who first propound their theses on human behaviour and then look round for examples to support their declarations. Some of them, like Susan Isaacs and a young teacher who had been on Bertrand Russell's staff in his experimental school, are honest enough to admit when their theories are falsified by hard experience; others never admit their early fallacies and continue to delude the younger generation while secretly acting against their own declarations.
No; Valentine had a strong case. He brought his brilliant mind to study the characteristics and reactions of children from their little lives in the cradle, and extended the knowledge of students during their experiences of teaching and learning. I must add too that although I read and heard Professor Valentine on many occasions he always gave me an impression of tolerance towards his critics. He was a great man, who laboured wisely in Birmingham for a number of years and brought an added distinction to that virile city.
* Found among the papers of the long defunct literary agency Michael Hayes of Cromwell Road S.W.5 - parts of a manuscript memoir by one L.R. Reeve of Newton Abbot, South Devon. Mr Reeve was attempting to get the book (Among those Present: Very Exceptional People) published, but on the evidence of the unused stamp Hayes never replied and L. R. Reeve published the book himself through the esteemed vanity publisher Stockwell two years later in 1974.
L R Reeve had, in a long life, met or observed a remarkable selection of famous persons. He presents 'vignettes' of 110 persons from all grades of society (many minor or even unknown) they include Winston Churchill, Dorothy Sayers, H H Asquith, John Buchan, the cricketer Jack Hobbs, J.B. Priestley, H.G. Wells, Marconi, E.M. Forster, Duchess of Atholl, Marie Stopes, Oliver Lodge and Cecil Sharp -- 'it is unnecessary to explain that many I have known have not known me. All of them I have seen, most of them I have heard, and some of them have sought information, even advice from me." Reeve states that the unifying qualification all these people have is '… some subtle emanation of personality we call leadership, and which can inspire people to actions unlikely to be undertaken unless prompted by a stronger will."
Reeve was a teacher throughout his life and deputy head of 3 London schools, headmaster of Loughborough emergency schools, ex-president of London Class Teachers Association and very early member of the British Psychological Society (55 years)... I calculate he was probably born in about 1900. His style is markedly unexciting but he has much information unavailable elsewhere.. He sent several typed manuscripts to (from the smell) the chain-smoking agent Hayes…