120 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
than the pouring of it without touching the edge of the glass with
the bottle and without spilling on the cloth the last drop of water.
Washing the hands is a more attractive proceeding if one has to
remember the exact place where the soap has to be put and where
the towel must be hung up.
Movement in itself is a crude affair, but if it is actuated by
a desire for perfection, its value is increased. The hands, for
instance, are washed not only to get them clean, but that there
onay be acquired the ability to wash oneself perfectly. By washing
one's hands in this way one is left not only with clean hands, but
one becomes more skilful, gaining a certain refinement which
makes one superior to the child with dirty hands. This revelation
made by the children of loving not only activity directed to a
purpose, but of being attracted by special details and therefore
lyy precision of execution, has opened up a wider field to education.
It is the education of movements which surges into the front
tank, whilst learning practical things is only an external call, the
apparent motive which stimulates a profound need of organization.
THE SENSITIVE AGE
Children are then at an age in which movements possess
fundamental interest; they seem to be most anxious to know how
they ought to move about.' They are passing through that period
of life in which they must become masters of their actions. With-
out our looking beyond the intimate physiological reasons, we
note that the muscular and nervous organs are passing through
the stage when the co-ordination of movements is established.
They are in the critical and transitory stage of definite construc-
tion. To initiate perfection at this time of life is an immensely
productive piece of educational work; the teacher reaps a wonder-
iul harvest after a minimum of trouble given to sowing the seed.
She is teaching people to be avid for this definite knowledge.
She gets the impression of giving rather than of teaching, of
performing an act of charity. When she is casting among the