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THE MECHANISM OF WRITING                 259

the little hand which is now adult because it has fixed many move-
ments, the painful, almost deforming, effort of turning back in the
paths of its development. The hand of the child of six or seven
years old has lost its precious period of sensitivity to movement.
This delicate hand has left behind it the delightful time in which
movements were being co-ordinated, in which is created the func-
tional hand and it is condemned to a painful and unnatural effort.
It is necessary to go further back and look for the baby hand
•which is still unco-ordinated, still functionally 'soft'; it is the
-enquiring little hand of the very small child of four who touches
everything round about him, in the irresistible and unconscious
.attempt to stabilize definite co-ordinations.


In order to help the teaching of writing, it is needful first of
all to analyse the various movements which enter into it, and to
try to develop them separately, in a manner independent of actual
writing. In this way we will be able to suit various ages, each
lhaving its own possibilities, co-operate in constructing that
mechanism which is so difficult and complex.

In the sense exercises, which are accompanied by fine move-
ments of the hand and which interest the child so much that he
is led to an indefinite repetition of the same actions, we will find
the psychological time and the external means which are precisely
adapted as .a remote preparation for the mechanism of writing.


One must be capable of holding in the fingers some instrument
of writing (pen, pencil, etc.) and of guiding it with a light hand to
draw definite symbols.

Holding the instrument requires not only the work of the three
fingers which grip it, but also the co-operation of the hand which
has to travel lightly over the surface on which the writing is being