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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

THE MECHANISM* OF WRITING                271

But this most important question deserves a separate chapter.

All the mechanism of writing is prepared for. Turning now
directly to the method for teaching writing, we notice that it is
already included in the two stages described, since the child is
given by these exercises the opportunity of learning and fixing the
muscular mechanism necessary for holding the pen and for making
the graphic symbols. After the child has had long practice in
these methods he will be potentially ready to write all the letters
of the alphabet and simple words, without ever having taken pen
or chalk in his hand for the purpose of writing.


By this method, the teaching of reading goes on at the same
time as that of writing. When a letter is presented to the child
and its name is pronounced, the child fixes the image of it with
the visual and with the tactile-muscular senses, and associates the
sound with the symbol without fail; that is, it makes acquaintance
with written language. When it sees and recognizes, it reads;
when it touches, it writes; thus it begins its acquaintance with two
actions which later on, as they develop, are separated to form the
two diverse processes of reading and writing.

The contemporary character of the teaching, or better, the
fusion of the two initial actions, presents the child therefore with
a new form of language, without it being decided which of the
two constituent acts will take precedence.

We must not trouble ourselves as to whether the child., as the
process goes on, learns reading first or writing first, as to whether
the one way or the other will be the easier for him. We should
learn this from experience keeping our minds free from prejudices,
waiting for the appearance of probable individual differences in
the prevalent development of either of the two actions. That gives
an opportunity for a very interesting study in individual psycho-
logy, and for. a continuation of the practical direction of our
method which is based :on the free expansion of individuality.