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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"


in infant schools.   Others are of opinion that if we wish to present
geometrical forms we should use solids instead of plane figures.

I think a word is necessary to combat such prejudices.
Observing a geometrical form is not analysing it; it is with analysis
that the difficulty begins. When, for example, we talk to the child
of sides and angles, and explain to him, perhaps by the objective
method as Froebel chooses, that the square has four sides and can
be constructed with four equal rods—then we really enter the field
of geometry; and I think that early childhood is too immature for
this step. But observation of form cannot be unsuitable at this
age; the plan of the table at which the child sits to eat his soup is
probably a rectangle; the plate which contains the meat he likes
is a circle; and we certainly do not consider that the child is too
immature to look at the table and the plate.

The inset pieces which we present simply call attention to
form. As for the name, it is analogous to other names in nomen-
clature. Why should we find it premature to teach the child the
words " circle," 4* square," ft oval," whilst, if at home he repeatedly
hears the word " round " applied to plate, it does not strike us that
this is an injury to his tender intelligence? Very often too at home
he will hear spoken of the square table, the oval table, etc.; and
these common words will remain confused in his mind and in his
language for a long time, if there is not interposed assistance
similar to that given by us in the teaching of form.

One must remember that very often the child when left to
himself makes an effort to understand the language of adults and
the things which surround him; teaching, when applied at the right
time, forestalls this effort and therefore the child is not wearied
out, is given rest, and has his craving satisfied.

In this case also there is to be found prejudice—that when
the child is left entirely to himself his mind is at rest. If that were
so, he would remain a stranger to the world; instead of which we
see him, little by little, by his own efforts, acquiring ideas and
language. He has come as a traveller into life, one who takes
notice of the new things which present themselves to him and tries