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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

104              THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

f Q*3f or on the trees in the garden.   And a chorus of chirping,
growing all round about, gives them thanks.

The metamorphosis of insects, and the care which mothers
bestow on their offspring; form subjects of patient observation by
the children, and often give rise to reasoning which surprise us.
There was one small child who was so struck by the metamor-
phosis of tadpoles that he followed up their development, recording
the various phases of the frog, like a small scientist.

The plant world also calls to them. In one Children's House
in Rome, as they had no ground which could be cultivated, they
had placed jars of flowers, round a large terrazza.'1 The children
never forgot to water the plants with a small watering-can. One
morning I found them seated on the ground, all in a circle round
a splendid red rose which had opened during the night—silent and
tranquil, completely absorbed in mute contemplation.

Once a little girl who had grown up with a love for the flowers
and gardens which her mother and her teachers had never allowed
her to lack, was looking down from a terrace evidently greatly
excited. " " Down there," she said to her mother, " there is a
garden growing things to eat." It was an orchard which, to the
mother, did not seem worth admiring, but which filled the child
with enthusiasm.

PREJUDICE IN THE GARDEN

Even into the midst of Nature we cannot help carrying pre-
judices about which it is very difficult to ascertain the truth. We
have made for ourselves too symbolical an idea of flowers; we try
to adapt the activity of children to our own ideas instead of follow-
ing the child in order to interpret his real tastes and needs. So it
is that in the garden the child has been forced into activity
artificially created by the adult. The act of placing a seed in the
ground, and then of waiting for the seedling to grow from it is
work on too small a scale and involves too long a wait for children.

1 See footnote in Chapter XVI, " The Mechanism of Writing '*.