Skip to main content

Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

See other formats

30                THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

understood well that the first teaching material used by him was
spiritual. Because at the end of the French volume, the author,
giving a review of his work, sorrowfully comes to the conclusion
that it will be lost if the teachers are not prepared. He holds an
entirely original idea about the training of teachers for defectives;
it looks like advice given to a woman who is preparing herself
to be an enchantress. He would like them to be beautiful, to
have fascinating voices, and thinks that they should take the
utmost pains to make themselves attractive. Their bearing and
the modulations of their voices should be studied with the same
care as that taken by great dramatic artists who prepare themselves
for the stage, because they have to conquer minds which are weak
and weary, by stirring up the great emotions of life.

This kind of secret key, which turns upon the action of the
spirit, opened the long series of educational experiments so
.admirably analysed by Edward Seguin and really most efficacious
in the education of idiots. I obtained surprising results from
them, but I must confess that whilst my efforts were producing
intellectual progress, I was prostrated by a kind of exhaustion—
I felt that I was being drained of some of my strength. What
we call encouragement, comfort, love, respect, are drains on the
Imman mind, and the more lavishly one spends oneself in this
way, the more does one renew and re-invigorate the life around.

Without that the most perfect external stimulus passes
unnoticed, as did the sun for Saul, when he exclaimed that there
was thick darkness.

I could write more about the new experiments, but it is not
opportune here. I will only mention how at this stage I tried
out a system for reading and writing which was quite original;
these subjects of education were not treated at all either by Itard
or Seguin.

I taught reading and writing, including penmanship, to some
defectives of my institution who became fit to be presented at an
examination for the public schools along with normal children,
and who passed the test.