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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

WRITTEN LANGUAGE                        243

After a long series of experiments and following the guidance
of ideas about the origin of geometric figures, Seguin found out
that the easiest figure to draw was the triangle.

"When three lines meet together in this way, they always
form a triangle, whilst four lines may meet in a hundred directions,
without keeping exactly parallel, and therefore presenting an
imperfect square.

"From these experiments and observations, confirmed by
many others which it would be superfluous to quote, I deduced
the first principles of writing and drawing for idiots—principles the
applications of which is too simple for me to dwell longer on it."

The above describes the methods used by my predecessors in
teaching writing to defectives. To teach reading, Itard proceeded
in the following way. He hung from nails on the wall geometrical
figures like triangles, squares, circles; then he drew the exact repro-
duction of them on the wall. After that, having removed the
figures, he had them replaced on their respective nails by the
Savage de 1' Aveyron, who had to be guided by the drawings.
It was from these drawings that Itard took the idea of the flat
insets. Finally, Itard made letters of the alphabet in printed capitals
and used them in a way similar to that which he had used for the
geometrical figures; that is, he drew them on the -wall and placed
nails at such a height that the child could hang up letters over the
drawings. Later on, Itard used a horizontal plane instead of the
wall, drawing the letters on the bottom of a box and getting the
drawing covered with the solid letters.

Twenty years later, Seguin had not changed his method.

Criticism of the method used by Itard and Seguin for teaching
writing and reading seems to me superfluous. There are inherent
two fundamental mistakes which make it inferior to the methods,
in use in schools for normal children. The first is that of teaching
writing with printed capital letters; the second lies in preparing
for writing a study of rational geometry, which we reserve
today for pupils in secondary schools. In doing this Seguin really
confaises ideas in a way which surprises us. He suddenly jumps.