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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

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by the usual gymnastics. But the exercises of practical life cannot
be regarded as simple muscular gymnastics; they are part of the
work. It is the restful work of muscles which function without
growing tired because interest and variety renew them with every
movement. It is the exercise natural to man who, when he moves*
ought to have an object in view; muscles ought always to serve
the intelligence and thus remain in functional unity with the human
personality. If man is an intelligent creature and is muscularly
active, then his rest lies in intelligent activity, as the rest of
every other creature lies in the normal exercise of its functions*
We must, then, offer to the child means within his surround-
ings by which to exercise his activity, remembering that the
Children's House includes children of various ages—from three to
six years—who all live together like members of a family and who,,
therefore, require different occupations.

The objects which we use for practical life have no scientific
signification; they are the objects in use where the child lives and
which he sees being used in his home; they are made, however,
in sizes adapted to the little man. The quantity is not fixed by
the method, but depends on the resources of the school, and above
all on the length of time which the child spends in school each day.
If the school has a garden attached to it, there will form part of the
practical operations such work as taking care of the paths, tidying
up the plants, gathering fruit when it is ripe and so on. If the
day's time-table is very long, dinner will form part of the occupa-
tions; it introduces effort and action more difficult and more
interesting than any other kind of practical work; it includes laying
the table with the utmost care, serving at table, eating properly,
washing plates and cups, carrying away and storing pots and pans*
and so on.


When the child arrives in school, he takes off his own gar-
ments. Little hooks, fixed to the wall at such a height that the
arm of the child can reach them comfortably, are at his disposal..