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THE MECHANISM OF WRITING 279.
name, almost as a reward due to motherhood, so the first word
written by niy little ones fills them with inexpressible joy. They
see spring into being, by their own act, a power which seems to be:
a gift from nature, for they cannot link up what they are doing
with the preparatory acts which have led them up to their
Hence they imagine almost that on one fine day, when they
have reached it they become able to write. And so it is in reality.
The child, when it begins to speak, has also prepared beforehand,
unconsciously, the psycho-muscular mechanism which will lead
him to the articulation of the word. In the case of writing, the
child does nearly the same; but direct aid given by teaching and
the possibility of preparing almost materially for the movements,
of writing, which are much simpler and coarser than those neces-.
sary for the pronouncing of the word, result in written language
developing much more rapidly and perfectly. Since the prepara-
tion is not partial but complete, that is, the child is equipped with
all the movements needed for writing, therefore written language
is not developed gradually, but in a sudden outburst; the child is
able to write every word.
In this way we shared in the moving experience of the first •
development of written language among our children. We were
stirred into deep emotion during those days; we felt as if we were
in a dream, and that we had seen miraculous events..
The child who was writing a word for the first time was con-
sumed with joy; I compared him at once with a hen which had
laid an egg. Indeed, no one could escape from the noisy demon-
strations of the little one; he called everybody to look and if the
person did not come he pulled him by the dress to make him come.;
Everyone had to go there, stand round the written word and admire.
the wonder, adding his exclamations of surprise to the joyous
shouts of the fortunate performer. Generally speaking, this
first word was written on the ground, and then the child used
to kneel down to get nearer to his work and to gaze on it more