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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

TEACHING METHODS                          79

his behaviour in his usual everyday life. He becomes accustomed
to a form of discipline which is not limited to school surroundings,
but extends outwards into society. -

The liberty of the child ought to have as its limit the collective
interest of the community in which be moves; its form is expressed
in what we call manners and good behaviour. It is our duty then
to prevent the child from doing anything which may offend or
hurt others, and to check behaviour which is unbecoming or
impolite. But as regards all else, every action which has a useful
purpose in view, whatever it may be and in whatever form it shows
itself, ought not only to be permitted, but it ought to be kept under
observation; that is the essential point. By means of scientific
preparation the teacher must not only become equipped with
observing powers, but must acquire an interest in the observation
of natural phenomena. According to our system she ought to fill
a passive role in a much higher degree than an active one. Her
patience, her inactivity, will be compounded of keen scientific
curiosity and respect for the phenomena which she wishes to
observe. The teacher must understand and feel her position as
an observer.

Such is the test which should be applied in the school for little
ones who are giving the first revelations of their lives. We cannot
possibly estimate the consequences of preventing a spontaneous
action when the child is just beginning to do things; perhaps we
may be destroying life itself. The humanity which manifests itself
in its intellectual splendour in the sweet and tender age of child-
hood, as the sun shows itself at dawn and the flower when it first
opens its petals, ought to be respected with religious veneration;
and if an educational act is to be efficacious it will only be so if it
tends to help towards the complete unfolding of life.

In order to do this it is necessary TO avoid rigorously the
arresting of spontaneous movements and the imposition of doings
dictated by the will of others. From this ruling there must be
excepted useless or dangerous actions, because these ought to be
prevented.