Skip to main content

Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

130               THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

silent in church. He has learnt not only how to bend the knee,
but .also where to do it—before the altar. He has learnt not only
every kind of greeting, but has also learnt how to allocate them
according as to who is presented to him—another child, a relative,
a stranger or a venerable personage. That means that the various
things which he has learnt perfectly must be used and given their
right place in the different times and circumstances of life. It is he
who decides; this application is the work of his understanding, the
•exercise of his own responsibility. In this way he is set free from
the greatest of dangers, that of placing upon the adult the respon-
sibility for his doings, thus condemning his own intelligence to the
inertia of sleep.

The new education consists not only in supplying the means
of development for separate actions but in leaving the child at
liberty to make use of them.

It is this which transforms the child into the thoughtful and
diligent little man who makes, in the secrecy of his heart, decisions
and selections very different from what we would have expected,
or who, with the rapidity of a generous impulse or with delicate
affection, does things which are -prompted suddenly by his inward
thought. In this also, more than in anything else, does he exercise
himself; and so he travels onwards with surprising confidence along
the ways chosen by his own intelligence.

The inner work of the child is marked by a kind of modest
sensibility and is expressed only when the adult- refrains from
interfering with his directive doings, his inspections, advice and
exhortations. Let us leave the child free to make use of his
powers and he will show himself capable of successes greater than
those which he is making. He will act with scrupulous diligence
in assigning to every activity its proper place, just as the younger
child (that is, two years old) takes pride in being able to put every
object in its place.

When he greets a person of rank who is visiting the school,
he feels that he not only knows how to salute, but how to choose
that form of salutation which is fitting* When he sits down in