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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

THE TECHNIQUE OF LESSONS                 201

Prevention of Errors in Using Material. The most efficient
prevention of misuse of the material lies in its presentation at the
right moment of the child's development. Another guarantee of
proper use lies in the exactness of the presentation. If, notwith-
standing this, a mistress sees material being used in such a way
as to render it valueless for its purpose, that is, that it does nothing
towards the development of the child's intelligence, she must put
a stop to the work. She will do this with the utmost sweetness if
the child submits quietly and with good temper, but if he shows a
tendency to behave badly she will restrain him energetically,
not so much as a punishment for noise and disorder, but offering
him the help of her authority.

Authority, in fact, becomes in such a case the support which
is needed by the child, who having lost control of himself owing
to temporary lack of balance, needs a strong support to which he
can cling, just as. one who has stumoled needs to hang on to some-
thing to maintain his balance. The work of helping means, at
such a moment, the friendly hand of the strong held out towards
the weak.

When the child is working he is like a person poised in perfect
equilibrium, and it is material which he needs with which to
employ himself, just as the body striving after perfect mobility
would require a gymnasium.

We must distinguish clearly between two kinds of mistakes
which the child may make. First, we have the error which is
controlled by the material itself, and which arises from the fact
that the child, quite willing to carry out exactly an exercise which
he knows well, yet does not succeed because of his immature
power of execution or because his senses do not appreciate the
various stimuli, or because he cannot execute definite movements
for which his mechanism is not yet far enough developed. For
example, he makes a mistake in putting the cylinders into the holes,
because he does not yet distinguish the differences between them;
or for a similar reason, he places a large cube over a small one
in building the tower, and so on.