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THE MECHANISM OF WRITING                277

he made a mistake and put * dito '. The Inspector repeated * dido \
The child was not in the least perturbed, he took the * t * he had
previously laid down, but did not place it back in the box, but left
it on one side of his table. * Dito' thus became * didona . . .* and
then the child took that ' t * that he had put aside and used it to
finish the word: 'didonato*. The entire word therefore was as
if sculptured in his mind. He knew from the start that a * t * was
necessary at the end. His certainty was so great that he was not
in the least confused by the remark of the inspector. The latter
was really amazed. "This 't'," he said, "makes me believe that
a miracle in the history of education is about to take place."

, Not one child alone, but many were there who showed the
same surprising psychological phenomenon. They revealed a
particular 6 sensitivity' for words, almost a ' hunger of their age'
for an instinctive acquisition of language.

The child evidently re-composed these words with the mov-
able alphabet, not because he * remembered' them with the help
of an ordinary memory, but because he had * sculptured * and
* absorbed' it in his mind. It was from this sculptured and
absorbed image that he * copied' the word, as if he * saw * it in
front of him. However long or strange the word might be, it was
simply reflected and fixed so that the child could reproduce it.
It should also be remarked that this exercise was absolutely
fascinating to the children who repeated it without fatigue, because
it was a vital exercise.

The children who thus composed words did not know either
to write or to read. They were not * interested' in the written
word. They acted, or rather re-acted, to a stimulus that instead
of provoking an inferior reflex, produced a response corresponding
to a creative sensitivity.


Children who are able to retain in their mind, as if it were
sculptured or photographed, a word and the corresponding alpha-
betical signs, should be able to write and to read too.