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THE MECHANISM" OF WRITING 269'
made up into words. Other details of the same kind are left to
the teacher's judgment.
I have not found it practical to follow any definite rule in
teaching the consonants. Very often the child's curiosity about a
symbol leads to the teaching of the consonant which he desires;,
the sound of a name may awaken in the child a wish to know
what consonant is necessary to build it up. And this wish of the-
child is a more useful means than any reasoning for deciding upon
the order to follow.
When the child pronounces the sounds of the consonants he-
evidently experiences pleasure. He regards as a novelty this series
of sounds so varied aad so well known, which come to life on the-
presentation .of an enigmatic symbol like a letter of the alphabet.
There is some mystery about it and it raises intense interest. One
day I was on the terrace while the children were playing freely
around, and had near me a little one two and a half years old,
left there for a moment by his mother. I had scattered on several!
chairs some complete alphabets mixed up together, and was sorting,
them into their respective cases (v. below). When I had finished
the work, I placed the cases on little seats. The little one was.
watching. I drew near and took a letter of the alphabet in my
handó/. The boys at this moment were running in a line; on
seeing the letter they all uttered the sound belonging to it and
passed on. The child paid no attention. I put away the / and
took up an r; the boys as they ran looked at it laughing and began
to shout to himór, r, r! r, r, r! Little by little the small child began
to understand that when I took a letter in my hand those passing,
uttered a sound. That amused him so much that I made up my
mind to observe how long the game would go on without wearying,
him; I waited quite three quarters of an hour. The boys had
become interested'in the affair and stopped in groups, pronouncing
the sounds in a chorus, and laughing at the wonder of the child.
Finally the baby, because I had more frequently taken the letter/"
and held it up, always receiving from the groups the same sound,,
took it up, showed it to me and himself saidó/, /, / He had learnt.