228 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD When the child finds himself in front of the material he applies himself to it with a serious, concentrated effort which seems to draw out the best there is in him. It actually appears that children are found making conquests greater than their minds are capable of; the material opens up to their intelligence ways otherwise inaccessible in the age of childhood. It is by way of this material that concentration is attained, for it includes things fitted to absorb the intense attention of the child. A COMPARISON BETWEEN THE EDUCATION OF NORMAL CHILDREN AND THAT OF THOSE MENTALLY DEFICIENT Knowing that this educational method for normal children has its origin in the method which Itard and Seguin elaborated for children mentally deficient, many have objected that it is impossible to apply one and the same treatment to the two classes of children. At the present time more and more is the tendency to distinguish mental levels with increasing accuracy, recognizing and treating differently those who from the point of view of intelligence are differently endowed, e.g. the supernormal. I think it well, therefore, to point out the difference which our method recognizes so clearly between children rich in vital spirit and those who are poor in it. The same means used in both cases provoke different reactions and serve to establish an extremely illustrative comparison. The first and fundamental difference between a child mentally inferior and a normal child, when placed in front of the same material, is that the defective child does not show spontaneous interest. It is necessary to ask for his attention continually and actively, inviting him to observe, to compare, exhorting him to do something. Let us suppose that we are using as our first object a piece of the solid insets. The exercise, as we know, consists in taking the cylinders out of their places, putting them on the table* mixing them up, and then replacing them, each in its own place.