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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

$2                THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

have employed if they had been beating each other.   It was now
time to go back to school, and all had to obey."'

This illustrates the unthinking manner in which my young
teachers behaved at first; almost involuntarily, they reduced the
children to immobility without taking enough pains to discriminate
between their movements. There was, for example, one baby who
gathered her companions round her in a group, and then, in the
middle of it, moved about talking and making quiet gestures. The
mistress at once hurried up, stilled the waving arms and exhorted
her to keep quiet. But, watching the child, I saw that she was
pretending to be the teacher and the mother of the others, that
she was teaching them their prayers, with wide gestures, invocations
to the saints and the sign of the Cross; already she was showing
herself to be a leader. Another small boy, who was in the habit
of making purposeless movements and was regarded as being
almost abnormally unstable, one day set himself, with intense
concentration, to displacing the small tables. At once they put a
stop to his doings because he was making too much noise. But
that proceeding of his was really a first manifestation of movements
co-ordinated towards an end; in it he was showing his tendencies,
and therefore it was an action which should have been respected.

In fact, after this he began to be as tranquil as the other
children on every, occasion when he had to move about some small
object on his table.

Sometinues it happened that, whilst the mistress was replacing
in the boxes objects that had been used, a child would draw near
and take up something with the obvious intention of imitating her,
The first impulse of the teacher was to send her back to her place
with the usual admonition—" Let them alone, go to your place."
The child was really expressing by her action an inclination, to do
.a useful action; she would have succeeded well, for example, in
exercises demanding arrangement. On another occasion the chil-
dren were crowding together in the room round a basin of water
in which, -small objects were floating about. We had in the school
a. little one of just two and a half years old; he had remained alone