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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

144              THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

basis to the development of the intelligence. It is through contact
with and exploration of the environment that the intelligence builds-
up its store of operational ideas without which its abstract func-
tioning lacks both foundation and precision, exactitude and
inspiration. This contact is established by means of the senses
and of movement. If it is at all possible to train and refine the
senses, even if this be only a temporary achievement in the life of
those individuals who later on do not use them to such an extent
and with such constancy as in certain specifically practical and
sensorial professions, its value stands undiminished, because it is
in this period of development that the fundamental ideas and habits
of the intelligence are formed.

There is, however, another side to the importance of sense
training. The child of two and a half or three who comes to our
Children's Houses, has, during the previous very active and men-
tally alert years of his existence, accumulated and absorbed a host
of impressions. This remarkable achievement, the extent of which
can hardly be exaggerated, was, however, made without any outside
help and guidance. Essential and accidental impressions are all
heaped together, creating a confused but considerable wealth in
his subconscious mind. With the gradual assertion of conscious-
ness and will, the need to create order and clarity, to distinguish
between the essential and the accidental becomes imperative. The
child is ripe for a re-discovery of his environment and of his inner
wealth of impressions of it. In order to realize this need he
requires an exact and scientific guide, such as that given by our
apparatus and exercises. He may be compared to an heir uncon-
scious of the great treasure he possesses, eager to appreciate them
with the knowledge of a professional connoisseur and to catalogue
and classify them so as to have them at his full and immediate
disposal.

If doubt as to the permanence of increased and refined
sensorial activity in certain walks of life seems possible, this last
achievement certainly seems to be an acquisition of the greatest
permanence. Generally the first aim of sense training has been