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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

220              THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

'On one occasion in a classroom in Barcelona, a workman entered
carrying in his hand a pane of glass which was to be replaced in
one of the classroom windows. A child, five years old, called out:
"The glass does not fit, it is too small." Only when he applied
the glass did the workman find that it was too short by about a
centimetre.

Two children of five and six in a Children's House in Berlin,
carried on the following discussion: "Do you think that the
ceiling is three metres high?" "No, it is about three metres,
twenty-five centimetres." When measured the distance proved to
be somewhat over three metres.

A child, five years old, on seeing a lady enter, said to her,
** The colour of your dress is exactly the same as that of the flower
which is out there." The lady went into the next room where she
found a flower which was not visible from the room she had entered,
and comparing the flower with her dress, found the two colours to
be amazingly alike. Apparently the lady's ability was limited to
recognizing the identity of the colours when they were placed side
^by side; but the child possessed a power beyond this; he had an
inward fixed standard to which he could refer both the flower and
the dress, just as we have a fixed unit of measure which permits
us to judge the relationships between things to be measured and
a fixed stone of comparison by which other stones can be judged.

The touchstone, which produces such wonderful results in
children and which sets them on a plane very different from ours
and often inaccessible to us, is worthy of being considered as a
fact unknown until today. It seems that at certain periods in
life there exist possibilities of making mental acquisitions which
are no longer possible at other ages. A fact which is clearly evident
to everybody is the capacity many times mentioned which little
children have for remembering and reproducing the sounds of
language and for learning the words of it.

The age at which language is imprinted in indelible fashion
is the period at which nature has established an extraordinary
^sensitivity adapted to fixing accents and words. In life one cannot