Skip to main content

Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

<98                   THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

In other passages, Itard relates how the boy was not able to
•walk in a civilized manner, but could only run\ and tells how he,
Itard, used to run after him at first when he was taking him for a
walk in the Paris streets rather than put a violent check on the
boy's speed.

The gradual, very gentle introduction of the little savage to
the ways of social life, the way in which the master at first adapted
himself to his pupil rather than the pupil to the master, the sub-
sequent attraction to a new life which was to win the child over
1>y its charms instead of being imposed harshly in such a way that
it caused oppression and torture to the pupil—all these constitute
:so many precious educational principles which may be generalized
and applied to child education.

I believe that there exists nothing written which offers us so
eloquent a contrast between the natural and the social life, and
which shows so clearly how the latter consists entirely of renun-
ciations and restrictions. It suffices to think of the run reduced
to a walk, and of the ringing shout brought down to the modula-
tions of the usual speaking voice.

In our time and in the civilized environment of our society,
children however live very far distant from Nature, and have few
opportunities of entering into intimate contact with it or of having
direct experience with it.

For a long time the influence of Nature on the education of
the child was considered only as a moral factor. What was sought
for was the development of special sentiments aroused by the
wonderful objects of Nature—the flowers, the plants, the animals,
the landscape, the wind, the light. Later, the .attempt was made to
apply the activity of the child to nature by initiating him into the
cultivation of the so-called " education plots ". The idea, how-
ever, of living in Nature is the most recent acquisition in education.
Indeed the child needs to live naturally and not only to know
Nature. The most important fact really is the liberation of the
.child, if possible, from the bonds which isolate him in the artificial
life created by living in cities.