Skip to main content

Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

See other formats

THE HISTORY OF METHODS                    29

remained in practice a delusion. The cause of this lack of success
is easily understood. Everybody only retained the idea that the
deficient children, inferior beings, should ultimately be educated
like normal, superior, children. The conception that a "new
education 9I was born in the pedagogic world had not penetrated,
neither the fact that it was that new education which could raise
the deficient children to a higher level. Much less was there an
intuition that a method of education which raised defectives could
also raise normal children.

I carried out my experiments on the defectives in Rome and
carried on their education for two years. I followed Seguin's book
and I also found a treasure in the admirable experiments made
by Itard. Besides that, I had made for myself, following the
guidance of these texts, a rich stock of teaching material.

This material, which I did not see in its entirety in any other
institution, was a marvellous instrument, excellent in the hands of
anyone who knew how to use it, but by itself could pass unnoticed
among the defectives. I understood why teachers had become
so discouraged, and why the method had been abandoned. The
theory, that the teacher must place himself on the level of the
pupil, plunged the teacher of defectives into a kind of apathy; he
knew that he was educating inferior intellects and therefore he
did not succeed in educating them. So it is with the teachers of
little children who think of educating them by placing themselves
on their level with games and often with nonsensical talk.

Instead of that, what we must aim at doing is to awaken in
the mind of the child the man who is asleep there.

I was possessed by this inspiration, and I believed that at
the start the teaching material had to be associated with the
voice of the teacher which called and roused the children and
induced them to use the material and educate themselves. I
was guided by my great respect for their misfortunes, and the
love which these unhappy children were capable of kindling in
all who came near them. Seguia also expressed himself in a
similar way on the subject; reading his patient attempts I