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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

ELEVATION                                227

ihe senses in his life which makes him observe in this way the
things around him like the sounds of the human voice.

There is no need to illustrate objects for him; the only need
is to refrain from stifling the instinct of observation which nature
has given him.

If we want to help him we must place ourselves on a higher
level. We must give him more than he could obtain by his
unaided efforts.

May I be permitted to make a strong assertion that we ought
to give him the philosophy of things?

Let us begin with abstraction. Abstract ideas are synthetic
conceptions of the mind which, detached from actual objects,
abstract from them some qualities held in common which do not
exist of themselves but exist in the actual things. For example,
weight is an abstraction; it does not exist by itself; only heavy
objects exist.

In the same way one considers form and colour. These words
stand for abstractions which are synthetic in themselves because
they mass together in one single idea in an abstract manner, a
quality scattered in various ways over an infinite number of real
things. The children who love to stroke things materially rather
than just to look at them appear to have minds which are less
•bpen to abstract ideas. But here comes in a fine distinction.
Is it the absence of the object which makes the abstractions
inaccessible to the child, or is it real mental incapacity for grasp-
ing that synthesis of many things which is an abstract idea of
quality?

If we succeed in materializing the idea, presenting it in a form
adapted to the child, that of tangible objects, will his mind be
capable of grasping it, of interesting himself deeply in it?

The sense material may certainly be considered from this
point of view as materialized abstraction. It presents colour,
dimension, form, odour, sound, in a tangible and distinct manner
-and arranged in grades which permit of the classification and
analysis >of qualities. '