Skip to main content

Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

NATURE IN EDUCATION                      107

simplest doings which have an immediate end in view, and allow
him bring into play some purposive effort—as for example, clear-
ing away weeds from paths and furrows, sweeping up dried leaves,
cutting off some old branch. In a word, to have a wide field for
activity and to have opportunities for new experiences and for
engaging in difficult enterprises, brings satisfaction to the spirit of
animation which prompts the child to make its way in the world.

Our experience reminds us of quite small children who wander
fearlessly among cows, or children who are making friends with,
flocks of sheep. Others are preparing soil with a sieve and carry-
ing it away in barrows or building up great beds with branches-
of trees.

The care of the greenhouses and the preparation of water for
acquatic plants, the arranging of the nets which protect the water
from insects and such things, are work which it is perhaps rarely-
possible to carry out, for the environment does not generally pro-
vide for them; but they would never be outside the strength and
the good-will of the child.


Another conclusion we arrived at by placing the child
in conditions in which his needs could be demonstrated was that
of limiting the field or the garden to its spiritual needs. It is a.
common belief, on the contrary, that it is desirable to give children
unlimited space. In that case the child was being considered
mainly in the matter of his physical life; the limits were to be deter-
mined by the nimbleness with which his legs could run. However,,
even considering the * racecourse' as the limit of the ground, we
will find it to be decidedly more restricted than we had imagined
it to be, provided that we are willing to determine that limit with-
precision. In an immense field, children play and race about in
some well-defined space. AH living things tend to localize them-
selves and to keep themselves within boundaries.

This deduction applies also when we consider the mental life.
The limits must be sought for in. that right measure which lies-