108 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
"between excess and insufficiency of space and things, a miserable
.affair which does not even satisfy his own sense of importance.
Whether it is his own property or not does not matter to the child
whose needs are satisfied. He must be able to survey just as many
-plants as he can get acquainted with, just as many as he can fix in
his memory in such a way that they are familiar to him.
Even for us, a garden with too many plants, too many flowers,
is a place full of * unknowns/ which live outside our consciousness.
Lungs will breathe well in such places, but the mind will remain
•without kindred attachments. But a very small patch of ground
•cannot satisfy us either; what it contains is a mere nothing, does
not fulfil our needs, does not satisfy the hunger of the spirit which
longs to enter into communication with other spirits. There are
then limits—the limits of our garden—in which every plant is dear
:to us and gives us help which, we feel, aids us in maintaining our
The decision respecting limits has raised great interest, and
has been applied in many countries as the practical definition of
the garden as being what responds to the needs of the child's spirit.
Today, the lay-out of our gardens proceeds step by step along
ivith the building up of the Children's Houses.1
1 Tn later experiments, planned by Mr. Mario Montessori, scientific educa-
tion in nature subjects is being carried out more extensively. It is impossible
•to describe here the great amount of work and the ample and striking material
•which have been suggested exclusively by the interest and the activity shown by
the children. It is enough to mention that they include a great part of the
morphology and the classification of the animal and the vegetable kingdoms,
•preparing for and beginning the experimental study of physiology. Precise
;and scientific attention is also given to the preparation of aquaria and terraria
which should not lack in any school. Spontaneous and purposeful exploration
•of Nature followed this preparation in the school and led to a host of dis-
•coveries made by the children themselves. On this basis, responding to the
characteristic needs of the young child for sensorial and motor activity applied
to the absorption of fundamental knowledge, the ground was prepared for a
•vast and far-reaching development in the elementary school. It provided the
solution for the problem of satisfying the interests of the older child without
"burdening his mind with a preliminary and boring effort to master terminology
and static notions, when the interest for them has disappeared. It is the
-younger child who spontaneously and enthusiastically prepares the foundations,
•which the older child then uses to satisfy his own superior interest.