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THE HISTORY OF METHODS                    25

interests that give life to their intelligence; to witness the happiness
that comes to them through every activity in which the hand
becomes capable of achieving something. It is really man arising
from death to the joy of living. This spectacle is so fascinating
that it kept me for almost two years in daily contact with these
•children. I was with them from early morning till evening as if
I were a real teacher, not a physician conducting an experiment.

These two years of practical work were my first approach
to pedagogy, because never before had I taken any interest in

From the time when, in 1898-1900, I dedicated myself to the
•education of defective children, I had the intuition that the methods
of Seguin were not merely an attempt at helping inferior beings,
the mentally defective children, but that they were based on prin-
ciples far more reasonable than those in use in ordinary education.
Here indeed the result was not only that the pupils " learned some-
thing," but one witnessed an awakening of the personality.

It seemed to me and to many who took interest in my experi-
ments that it was a matter of method being different from the
ordinary methods, but not of methods particular to an inferior
mind. On the contrary these different methods contained a
•system of mental treatment that was very logical and superior to
that being empirically applied to normal children. Slowly I
became convinced that similar methods to normal children would
lead to a mental awakening and a beneficial modifying action in
them also. I had in fact come upon an experiment of scientific

It was then that I began a really profound study of the so-
called curative pedagogy, and consequently I wanted to under-
take the study of normal teaching and the principles on which it
is founded. Therefore I enrolled myself as a student of philo-
sophy in the university. A great faith animated me. Although
I did not know if I should ever be able to test the truth of my theory,
yet I left every other occupation in order to fathom it, preparing
myself almost as if for an unknown mission.