202 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
Such errors are controlled by the material, which does not
allow the mistake to be continued without being found out; they
can be corrected only through the growth of the child's powers,
through that modification, which will follow as a consequence
of long and correct manipulation of the material. Such errors
may be placed in the category described when we say that we
learn by making mistakes; they are overcome by determination,
with the aid of the means which are offered from the outside.
The second mistake can be traced to naughtiness, or to care-
less teaching as for instance, in dragging about the whole stand
of solid insets like a wheelbarrow, or in building houses with the
tablets of coloured silks, or in walking on the rods when laid out
in a row, or in wrapping one of the cloths used for fastenings
round the head like a scarf, and so on. Abusive use of material
which corresponds to disorder or to needs different from those
which the material can satisfy, means making no use of it; it results
in waste of energy, uproar; all the actions which prevent the child
from concentrating and therefore from improving and developing.
It is as if a hemorrhage of the body shed that blood which ought
to concentrate in the heart in order to maintain health and life.
It cannot be said of the above-mentioned errors that * one learns
by making mistakes'; the longer the mistake is kept going, the
farther off is the possibility of learning.
It is in conditions such as these that the authority of the
teacher succours the erring little soul, extending to him, now
gentle, now energetic help,
Respect for useful Activity. If, instead of using the material
wrongly, the child uses it either in accordance with the instructions
of the mistress or in some other way invented by himself which
shows intelligent modifications, then the teacher will leave the child
to go on repeating the same exercise or making his own attempts
and experiments. She will let the child have as much time as he
wants without ever interrupting his activity, neither for the purpose
of correcting small errors, nor by stopping the work through fear
of tiring out the child.