84 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
This is the starting point for discipline, and it is the most
wearisome time for the teacher. The first truth which children
have TO grasp before they can be actively disciplined is the differ-
ence between right and wrong and the duty of the educator is to
see that the child does not confuse goodness with immobility and
naughtiness with activity, as happened in the old style of discipline.
Hence our duty is to discipline for activity, for work, for
well-doing; not for immobility, for passivity.
A room in which all the children are moving about purpose-
fully, intelligently, and voluntarily, without creating confusion,
would seem to me to be very well disciplined.
To arrange the children in lines as in an ordinary school, to
assign a place to each little one, and to expect the children
to remain still observing some order agreed upon—that may be
carried out as a special practice for the purpose of collective
It happens also in ordinary life that people have to remain
seated together quietly, when they are present, for example, at a
concert or a lecture. And we adults know that this involves no
small sacrifice of our inclinations.
It is permissible then to arrange the children in order in their
places. To get them to understand such an idea so that they
learn, they assimilate the principle of collective order—that is the
If, after having understood this idea, they get up, talk, change
their positions, they are not doing so as at first, without knowing
it and without thinking about it, but they are doing it because they
want to rise up, to talk, etc.; that is, from that well-known
state of repose and order, they set out to engage on some activity
of their own; and knowing that certain acts are forbidden* they
will be forced to remember the difference between right and wrong.
The way in which the children change over from the * ordered'
position becomes better co-ordinated as the days pass; they
really learn to consider their own actions. Observatory notes of
the maimer in which children's early, disorderly movements are