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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"


go backwards, and what the mind acquired during its sensitive'
period is a permanent possession for all life, one which can never
be acquired at any other period. Thus in the early acquisition
of sense impressions and in the fixation of movements there are
periods in childhood which, if they pass without bearing fruit, can
never be replaced in their effects.

Once our attention is directed to this fact, we will see small
variations which often illustrate it. The child of three is able to
repeat forty times in succession an exercise (e.g. the solid insets)
which the child of six cannot repeat more than five or six times
in succession. However, the child of six can do things of higher
standing than those possible to the child of three, things of which
the very small child would not only be incapable but which would
be quite strange to him.

This interesting fact is repeated in normal matters. The in-
tensely formative period of early childhood is also that in which
there may be established a form of perfect obedience, the external
element of which was fixed as a tendency to imitation. When,,
however, one goes deeply into this phenomenon and when sur-
rounding circumstances are favourable to the development of the
child and therefore to his deepest expressions, one sees that there
exists in the child a tendency towards a wonderful adaptability to
the human beings who surround him, a trait in which we ought
to seek to establish a base for love and good feeling towards all
human beings. Later on, except in cases of unusually lofty moral
perfection due to exceptional forces, there will no longer exist this
form of obedience; there will be only reasoned agreement or
enforced submission.

The same phenomenon is shown with extraordinary clearness,
in the development of religious feelings. The little child has a.
tendency which one cannot describe better than by calling it the
sensitive period of the soul when it has intuitions and religious
urges which are surprising to anyone who has not observed the
child to whom it was made possible to express the needs of his-
inner life. It seems then that little children are exceptionally-