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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

174              THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

"blocks 10 cms, wide. Besides these and above all, the prisms two
decimetres long are heavy for the child. He has, then, to make
efforts with his little hand, which stretches and grows stronger.
Taking up in repeated exercises all the brown blocks, the hand
finally adopts automatically the precise position which is necessary
for covering the space of 10 cms. of 9, of 8, of 7, of 6, of 5, of 4,
of 3, of 2, of 1; that is, the muscular memory is fixed in agreement
with the exact gradation of space. This is repeated with the
pink block. Here there is another means of improvement; the
cube smaller than that preceding it must be placed in the centre
-(a strip | cm. wide remains all round); the arm and hand must
therefore respond to this definite intention; thus they execute pre-
cise, purposive movement. Of these, the most difficult belongs to
the cube of the least weight, namely the small cube of 1 cm. side.
The arm has to be very certain if it is to place this little object in
the centre and this is apparent in the intense concentration of
the child and his evident efforts.

Without a doubt it is the visual sense which benefits most in
the exercises with the solid insets and the blocks. By degrees,
the eye begins to distinguish differences which previously were
beyond them.

When the four sets of insets are in use together (the children
make a triangle of them and deposit in confusion in the space so
marked off the cylinders of the four series), it forms an exercise in
reasoning and memorizing which is set up, because the comparisons
made among the cylinders are most complicated and the recollec-
tion of the series to which they belong, and therefore of the stand
which will accommodate them, comes into action. The fascina-
tion inherent in the exercises is this—that the small intelligence
finds it a great piece of work and devotes to it the greatest natural
and agreeable effort of which it is capable.

In the case of the blocks also, it is above all the eye which acts
in recognizing gradations and therefore in revealing chance errors.
Misplaced organ pipes, a staircase which looks as if it had irregular
steps, a tower which bulges because a large cube has been placed