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140               THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

Little by little, following the directions arrived at after long
experience, the teacher presents now one part, now another of the
material, in accordance with the age of the child and the systematic
.gradation of the objects.

But such a presentation is only a preliminary which acts as
' an introduction and nothing more. It is afterwards that the im-
portant doings begin. Influenced by the various attractions, the
child will choose, as it pleases him, any one of the objects with
Tvhich he has made acquaintance and which have already been
presented to him.

The material is set out for him; he has only to stretch out his
liand to get it. He may carry what he has chosen anywhere he
pleases—to a table, near a window, into a dark corner, or to a
nice little mat spread out on the ground; he may use it over and
over again as often as he chooses.

What influences him in the choice of one subject rather than
.another? Not immediate imitation, for there is only a solitary
-specimen of every object, and if one child is using it, that is the
very time when no other child can use it.

So it is not imitation.   The way also in which the child will
use the material shows this, for he becomes absorbed in his doings
ivith such intense fervour that he becomes oblivious to every-
thing around him and continues his work, repeating his actions
•consecutively dozens of times.   This is that phenomenon of con-
centration and repetition of an exercise with which is bound up
the inner development. No one can concentrate by imitation. Imita-
tion, in fact, binds us to the outside world.   Here we are dealing
-with a diametrically opposite phenomenon, that is, abstraction
from the external world and the closest union with the intimate
and secret world which operates within the child.   No influence is
exerted here by an interest in learning or by an external objective;
nothing of that sort can be connected with this moving and dis-
placing of objects which are invariably put back into their original
positions.   It is thus quite a personal fact, connected with the
needs which exist then in the child, and therefore with the