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TEACHING METHODS                          89

The man who acts by himself, who expends his strength on
his own actions, conquers himself, increases his power and perfects

The men of future generations must be made strong men, that
is, independent and free.


We have only to apply the principles set out above to find
that there is born in the child a peacefulness which characterizes
and almost illumines all his doings. Truly there is born a new
child morally superior to the one who is treated as a helpless and
incompetent being. A sense of dignity accompanies this new-
found feeling of inward liberation; henceforth the child interests
himself in his own conquests, remaining indifferent to the many
small external temptations which would have excited his lower
feelings irresistibly.

I must confess that this experience filled me with astonish-
ment. I also had been under the delusion of one of the most
absurd proceedings of ordinary education, that is, I also be-
lieved that in order to foster in the child a strong sense of work
and tranquillity it was necessary to encourage by means of an
external reward his lower feelings such as greed, vanity and self-
love. And I was also astonished when I found out that the child
who is allowed to bring himself up abandons these lower instincts
of his. I then exhorted the teachers to discard the usual rewards
and punishments, which were no longer adapted to our children,^
and to confine themselves to directing them gently in their work.

But nothing is more difficult for the teacher than giving up
old customs and old prejudices. One of them especially employed
herself in my absence in improving on my ideas, introducing a
little of the methods to which she had been accustomed. One day,
on an unexpected visit, I surprised a child, one of the most intelli-
gent, wearing on his breast a large silver Greek cross suspended
from a handsome white ribbon; another child was seated in a chair
in the middle of the room.