38 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
which reveals what is new; and after that intuition and awakened
interest are able to pursue a new path of progress.
In my case the story is interesting because, independently
of studies and preconceptions, it offered a complex environment
in which not only the education of the child but the social life
of men and their feelings combined into one whole.
HISTORY OF THE DISCOVERY OF A SCIENTIFIC EDUCATION
FOR NORMAL CHILDREN
It was the end of the year 1906. I was returning from Milan
where I had been elected to take part in the adjudication of prizes
at the International Exhibition, in the section of scientific peda-
gogy and experimental psychology. I was invited by the Director-
General of the Roman Institute del Beni Stabili (Association for
Good Building), to assume the organization of infant schools
in tenement houses.
The magnificent idea was to reform a Quarter like that of San
Lorenzo in Rome,which was filled with refugees and wretched people,.
and where a population of about 30,000 was crowded together,,
living in conditions beyond all civil control. There were work-people
without work, beggars, prostitutes, convicts just released from
prison, all of whom had taken refuge within the walls of houses
which had not been completed because of the economic crisis
which had suddenly caused the suspension of building in the whole
Quarter. The project conceived by Engineer Talamo had been
to buy up those walls, those skeletons of houses, and complete
by degrees, making them into permanent homes for the people.
Along with this plan was coupled the truly admirable idea of
gathering together all the little children under school age (from,
three to six years of age) in a kind of " school in the house ",
Every tenement was to possess its own school, and as the
Institute already owned more than four hundred blocks in Rome,,
the work presented magnificent possibilities for development.
Meanwhile the first school was to be opened in January 1907, in