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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

TEACHING METHODS                         87

He who is served instead of being helped, in a certain sense,
has injury done to his independence. Here is a conception which
forms the foundation of man's future dignity: I do not wish to
be waited on because I am not impotent, but we must help one
another, because we are members of a community. This indicates
what we must attain to before we feel ourselves really free.

Teaching, if it is to benefit the tender children, must be such
as will help them to advance along the road to independence.
Helping them to walk alone, to run, to mount and descend stair-
cases, to lift up fallen objects, to dress and undress themselves, to
wash themselves, to speak so as to state their needs clearly, to make;
attempts to satisfy their desires—that is what constitutes education
in independence.

We wait upon children; and a servile act which affects them
is no less fatal than an act which kills one of their useful natural
actions. We believe that children are like inanimate puppets; we
wash them, we feed them as if they were dolls. We never think
that the baby who does nothing, does not know how to do any-
thing; but he ought to do things, and nature has given him all the
means whereby he may learn to do them. Our duty towards him
is, without exception, to help him to perform useful acts. The
mother who feeds the baby without making the slightest effort to
teach him to hold the spoon and to find the way to his mouth, or
who, whilst eating herself, does not at least iixvite him to watch how
it is done—she is no good mother. .She offends the human dignity
of her son, treats him like a puppet, whilst he is a man entrusted
to her care by Nature. Who is there who does not understand
that to teach a child to eat, to wash himself, to dress himself, con-
stitutes a task much longer, more difficult and more tedious than
feeding, dressing and clothing him?

The first is the work of an educator; the second is the easy,,
inferior work of a servant. .

The second is not only inferior and easier work but., it is
dangerous, for it closes outlets, erects obstacles in the way of the life
which is unfolding, and besides the immediate consequences, it gives-