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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

ELEVATION                                225

By our method, the medium order (which, however, has an-
other form which results from the individual labours of the pupils)
is a point of departure for climbing to a higher level by means of
a step not yet reached and unknown. Silence is then a positive
victory which must be gained through knowledge and experience.

Knowledge, therefore, is applied to considering the slightest
movements, to controlling actions in every detail in order to
obtain the absolute immobility which leads to silence—a striking
idea, new, never before evaluated. In the ordinary schools the
call for silence is intended to bring back affairs into their normal
condition.

By contrast, the silence of immobility suspends the normal
life, suspends useful work and has no practical aim. All its impor-
tance, all its fascination, springs from the fact that by suspending
the communal life it raises the individual to a higher level where
utility does not exist but where it is the conquest of self which,
calls him.

When we find that little children of three or four ask * to have
the silence' or when having been invited, they respond at once
with the keenest interest, we have plain proofs that children haw
a tendency towards elevation and that they enjoy the higher
pleasures. Many people have been present on some one of these
astonishing occasions when a mistress having begun to "write on
the blackboard the word * silence' in order to obtain it, even before
she has completed the word they perceive that profound silence
has invaded the place where, an instant before, forty or fifty little-
ones had been intent on their occupations.

The motor life was suspended by contagion instantaneously^
Some child had read the first letters and had understood that the
order for silence was coining; by suspending his own movements,,
he started the performance which each of the others at once guessed
at and joined in with him. And so silence called for silence,
without a single voice having asked for it by speech.

Similar comparisons may be made with respect to all the
activities of the two different types of schools,
15