134 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
transversal bars along which they climb whilst they can slide down
on the other side. This " pagoda" was built specially in those
places where some kind of tennis-court existed. This court was
very useful; small children pushed small handcarts there, sometimes
with another small child in them, or they used it for cycling.
Children of three years of age can very well use bicycles (built
according to their size) and those of four become real cyclists. In
Holland, where there are special cycle-paths, many children come
to school on cycles instead of by tram.
Also swimming pools were built in many of our schools; the
first having been built in Vienna. There they had a pool in the
shape of the figure eight with various depths for smaller and bigger
We thus had an opportunity to observe that children of four
years of age can learn how to swim (as for that matter we can see
the children of Italian fishermen doing, even without any formal
teaching, at that-same age).
All these possibilities are like games, very amusing but not
necessary. That is why later on we did not speak about them
any more and we substituted for them practical work and perma-
nent abilities (like cycling and swimming). Another reason why in
kter years we did not stress them was that these applications are
not easily realized in schools for the poor.
SILENCE: THE INHIBITION OF MOVEMENTS
In the common schools, for long, it has been thought that
silence could be obtained by a command.
The meaning of the word has not been studied. It has not
been realized that it demands immobility, almost the suspension
of life for that particular instant during which silence, is main-
tained. Silence means the suspension of every movement; it is.
not, as is generally considered in schools, in a rough and ready
way, the secession of noises greater than the normal noises tolerated
in the place.