WRITTEN LANGUAGE 247 The labour which we had thought necessary to learn to write is quite artificial work, demanded not by writing but by the methods of teaching it. MY FIRST EXPERIMENTS WITH DEFECTIVE CHILDREN Let us discard for the moment all the old dogmatism which pertains to the subject. Let us disregard culture. Let us drop all interest in the question of how man began to write as well as in the genesis of writing itself. Let us drop the conviction which established custom has given us of the necessity for beginning writing with strokes; and let us imagine ourselves to be stripped bare in spirit, like the truth which we want to discover. Let us observe an individual who is writing, and try to analyse the moves which he makes as he writes—the mechanism which is concerned in writing. This would mean carrying out a psycho-physiological study of writing; it would mean studying the individual who is writing—the subject, not the object. It was always by beginning with the object, by beginning with the writing, that a method was built up. A method which started from the study of the individual rather than from that of the writing would really be original, very different from any method which has preceded it. If I had thought of giving a name to this new method when I undertook the experiments on normal children, before I had learnt the results of it, I would have called it a psychological method, because of the source of inspiration. But experience has given me, as a surprise and as a gift from nature, another title —the method of spontaneous writing. During the time when I was teaching defectives I happened to notice the following fact. An idiot girl, eleven years old, whose motive power and strength of hand were normal, could not learn to sew, could not even master the first stage, that of pushing the needle in and out in succession under and over the cloth, taking and leaving a few threads.