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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

EDUCATION OF THE SENSES                  191

The same principle holds true, not only for manual work, but
also for all those higher professions to which a practical activity
is associated.

The medical profession gives us an example. The medical
student studies theoretically the symptoms of the pulse, and goes
to the patient's bedside prepared and eager to recognize them, but
if his fingers are not capable of making the recognition his studies
and his goodwill will be useless. To become a doctor he is defi-
cient in the discriminative capacity for sense stimuli. The same
may be said about heart-sounds which the student learns about
in theory but which his ear cannot distinguish in practice; the same
applies to trembling and vibrations to which the hand is insensitive.
The thermometer is the more indispensable to a doctor when his
cutaneous system is badly adapted to perceive stimuli from heat.

It is well known that a doctor may be learned and extremely
clever and yet not be a good practical man, and that to become
so long experience is required. In reality this long experience is
nothing but belated and often ineffective training of the senses.
After having mastered brilliant theories, the doctor finds himself
condemned to the unprofitable labour of collecting symptoms of
diseases, if he is to obtain practical results from these theories.
Here we have then the beginner who proceeds methodically by
feeling, by tapping, by listening, in order that he may recognize
the vibrations, the resonances, the tones, the murmurs, the noises
which alone can enable him to form a diagnosis. In this way
there arises the deep and sad discouragement, the disillusion of
these early years; besides this, there is the wrongness of carrying
on a profession of such grave responsibility whilst uncertain of
discerning the symptoms. The whole art of medicine is founded
on sense-activity, yet the schools prepare doctors by way of classical
studies! Thus the wonderful intellectual equipment of the doctor is
made of no avail owing to the defective development of his senses.

One day I heard a surgeon giving popular lectures to mothers
on how to recognize the early symptoms of rickets in children,
with the intention of inducing them to faring their rickety children