272 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
But in the meantime it is certain that if the method is applied at
the right age, that is, before the age of 4, the little child will write
before it reads, whilst the child already too far developed (5 years)
will read first, finding great difficulty in setting in motion his-
INTELLIGENCE FREED FROM MECHANISM
Writing and reading are quite distinct from simple knowledge
of the signs of the alphabet. They really come into existence
when the word rather than the graphic symbol comes to be fixed
as an element. In spoken language also the beginning is marked
by the first appearance of words having a meaning, as distinct
from sounds which might be represented by vowels and syllables.
When intelligence is expressing itself in the loftiest medium, it will
make use of the mechanism which nature or educational art has
placed or prepared for its service, for the composition of words.
This is something quite different from what has been described
up till now in the analysis of movements for writing which repre-
sents the preparatory action for the establishment of this super-
language which is the real writing and reading. It means the
composition of words. The building up of words from graphic
signs need not necessarily be done along with writing and reading;
it is even useful to keep separate this act which may be distinctly
independent of the higher utilizations of it.
The intelligence of the child may find intensely interesting this
marvellous fact that it is possible to construct a word by putting
together those symbolic signs which are the letters of the alphabet.
To create words is much more fascinating at the beginning,
than to read them, and much easier than to write them, because
for writing them there is necessary the controlling mechanism
which is not yet established.
Therefore, as a preparatory exercise, we offer to the child aa
alphabet which will be described below, and he, by choosing the
letters of the alphabet and placing them'one beside the other*