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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

226              THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

A certain medium level represents * good' in the ordinary
schools—a * good' which is not defined, but which as a matter of
custom restricts the scholastic level aimed at.

In our schools we set out from a medium ' good' which is
that attained spontaneously by individual work, in order to rise
to a higher condition, towards a goal of perfection.

It is evident that if the tendency which renders this elevation
possible does not exist in the child as a matter of necessity it will
never be reached in practice.

If it does exist and if it shows itself in undoubted success,
we ought, as educators, to feel that a new duty illumines our
mission.

The education of the senses may serve to illustrate this idea.
It is known that many educationists have considered education of
the senses to be a mistake. That is because, by taking the
* medium * life as the end, the education of the senses causes a
deviation from the natural way of learning.

Objects are regarded in their entirety as a combination of
•qualities, as possessing many characters. The rose will have its
colours and its odours; the marble vase its form and its weight,
and so on. The lesson on actual objects just as they are is then
the correct thing. This is the reasoning which regards as finality
the medium order of things.

If, however, we consider the medium order not as a fixed end
1)ut as a point of departure we may find out by intuition that little
children notice spontaneously much more than the object lessons
dream of explaining, because, naturally, they are left free to observe
in accordance with their own instinct; they are not hindered by
•organic inhibition, that is, by the fear of acting by themselves.

I say "intuition" because even if we have not studied
methodically spontaneous child reactions we can understand such
a truth empirically. The child possesses a vital tendency to explore
his surroundings, however great, as he also tends to listen to
language; he must get to know the external world, he must learn
to speak, driven by a pressing instinct. It is, we say, a period of