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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

THE EXERCISES                             153

-she says, showing the red one, " This is red," raising her voice
and pronouncing the word 6 red ' very slowly. Then she shows the
other colour with " This is blue." In order to test whether or
not the child has understood, she says to him, " Give me the red,
give me the blue." Suppose the child makes a mistake; the mistress
neither repeats nor insists; she smiles and puts away the colours.

Ordinary teachers are amazed at such simplicity; they usually
say, " Everyone can do this." Really we have here again some-
thing like the story of the egg of Christopher Columbus, but the
fact is that they cannot all do it. In practice estimating one's
own actions is very difficult; all the more so in the case of
ordinary teachers trained according to the old methods. They
overwhelm the child with a deluge of useless words and mis-
statements.

For instance, in dealing with the example just given, an
ordinary teacher would have had recourse to collective teaching,
attaching excessive importance to the simple thing which she had
to teach and compelling all the children to follow her, when perhaps
not all of them were inclined to do so. Possibly she would begin
her lesson in this way: " Children, can you guess what I have in
my hand ? " She knows that the children cannot guess and she
thus claims their attention with a falsehood. Then she probably
would say: " Children, do you ever take a little look at the sky?
Have you ever seen it? Have you ever gazed at it at night when
it is glittering with stars ? No ? Look at my apron, do you know
what colour it is? Does it seem to you to be of the same colour
as the sky? Well, look at the colour which I have here; it is the
same as the sky and my apron, it is blue. Look all round about;
do you see any other things which are blue? And do you know
what colour cherries are? And burning coals? " etc., etc.

In this way the child's mind, after the bewilderment of
.guessing, is overcome by a mass of ideas—the sky, aprons, cherries,
<etc.; from this confusion it is difficult for him to perform the task
of extracting the subject, the aim of the lesson, which is to recog-
nize the two colours, blue and red. Further such a feat of selection