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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"


of dignity and satisfaction, which encourages them to go on
indefinitely to seek new sensations in the surroundings and renders
them voluntary observers.

The teacher ought to limit her efforts to keeping watch with
the utmost vigilance for the time when the child reaches general-
izations in ideas. For example, on one occasion one of our little
ones aged four whilst he was running on the terrace, stopped to
-cry out, " Oh, the sky is blue!" and stood still for a long time
to gaze at the expanse of the heavens.

One day, on entering one of the Children's Houses, five or
six little ones came to a standstill round me, all silent, gently
<;aressing niy hands and my dress, saying—" It is smooth," ** It is
velvet." Then many others drew near and all of them with
serious countenances and expressions of intense attention said, as
they touched me, the same words. The mistress wanted to inter-
fere to set me free; I made a sign to her not to move and I myself
stood motionless and silent, admiring that voluntary activity of
the little ones. The greatest triumph of our educational method
will always be this—to obtain the spontaneous progress of the

On one occasion when a child was making a drawing by filling
in with coloured pencils a figure already drawn in outline—a tree,
to be precise—he laid hold of a red pencil with which to fill in the
colour of the trunk. The mistress was about to intervene saying,
*"Do you think trees have red trunks?" I restrained her and
allowed the child to colour the tree red. This drawing was
precious for us because it revealed the fact that the child was not
an exact observer of his surroundings. But he continued in class
the exercises in colour sense. He used to go with companions into
the garden and had many chances of observing the colour of tree-
trunks; when the action of the senses became strong enough to
direct the attention of the child naturally to the colours around
him there would come one wonderful moment when he would see
that the trunk of a tree is not red; just as the other child, whilst
racing about, discovered that the sky was blue. Indeed, one day