36 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
The new methods, if they were run on scientific lines, ought
to change completely both the school and its methods, ought to
give rise to a new form of education.
The central fact in the scientific education of defectives had
been that the idiots and those below normal did not respond to
teaching and could not execute orders. Hence it was necessary to
have recourse to other means which would be adjusted to the
capacity of each individual.
Education of this type had been a piece of research, a scien-
tific experiment, an attempt to investigate the possibilities inherent
in the scholar, and to offer him means, stimuli, which might
awaken whatever energy was left in him and employ it in a perma-
nent fashion, augmenting it with and co-ordinating it by individual
The teacher when faced with a deaf person, with an idiot,
as with a new-born child, is powerless. Only experimental science
can point the way to a new practical education.
My desire had been to experiment with the methods elabo-
rated with so much success by Seguin on children in the first ele-
mentary classes when they presented themselves in school, un-
disciplined and illiterate, at the age of six.
But I had never thought of applying them in infant schools.
It was chance which shed a ray of light into my mind. We are
generally hampered by habits and prejudices, and our logical power
is left unused.
Perhaps it was logical to apply methods used for defectives
to little children when these also were regarded as being impossible
to educate, inaccessible to teaching because the mind had not
yet reached a high enough level of maturity.
It is possible to draw comparisons between defectives and
normal children if we consider children of different ages. Com-
pare those who have not the power to develop (defectives) with
those who have not yet had time to develop (very small children)*
Backward children are judged mentally as being children whose
mentality closely resembles that of normal children some years.