152 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
material of development and culture, the characteristic of such a
lesson must be its brevity; perfection is achieved in speaking the
necessary and sufficient minimum. Dante is teaching these mis-
tresses when he says, " See that thy words be counted ".
A lesson will approach closer to perfection in proportion to
the number of words which we contrive to leave out. Special care
must be devoted in the preparation of a lesson to counting and
choosing the words which will have to be spoken.
Another quality characteristic of the lesson is its simplicity;
it ought to be shorn of everything but the absolute truth. That
the mistress should not lose herself in empty words is included
in the first quality; this second thought is therefore a character
of the first, that is, the counted words ought to be of the simplest
kind and should represent the exact truth.
The third quality of the lesson is its objectivity, which means
that the personality of the teacher disappears, and there remains
in evidence only the object on which it is desired that the attention
of the child should be focussed. The short and simple lesson is
for the most part an explanation of the object and of the use which
the child can make of it.
The teacher will take note as to whether or not the child is
interested in the object, in what manner he shows his interest, for
how long, etc. and she will take care never to force the child into
following her when he does not seem to be interested in what she is
offering. If then the lesson, prepared with due regard to brevity,
simplicity and verity is not understood by the child as an explanation
of the object, the mistress must be given two warnings: first, not to
insist on repeating the lesson; second, to refrain from making the
child understand that he has made a mistake, or that he has
not understood, because that might arrest for a long time the
impulse to act, which forms the whole foundation of progress.
Let us suppose, for example, that the teacher wishes to teach
a child the two colours, red and blue. She wishes to attract the
child's attention to the object; so she says to him: " Look, pay
attention," If she aims at teaching him the names of the colours,