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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

READING                                  297

words one after the other; but reading can put ourselves into
communication with the complex thoughts of others and this was
not the case with our children. Such a brilliant achievement was
awaiting our children in the future, a new source of surprise and

The book embodies logical language, not the mechanism of
language; and for that reason, it cannot be understood by the
child until he has mastered logical language. Between being able
to read words and knowing the meaning of a book there may
extend the same distance as between being able to pronounce a
word and a speech.

I therefore had the reading of the books postponed and
waited. One day whilst we were talking together, four children
got up together with an expression of joy and wrote on the black-
board some sentences of this kind: *' How pleased I am when
the garden is in bloom," It was a great and moving surprise for
us. They had arrived spontaneously at composition, just as they
had spontaneously written the first word. The mechanism was the
same; and the result followed logically. Logical spoken language
one day led up to a sudden outbreak into written language.

I understood that the moment had arrived for going on to
the writing of sentences, and I had recourse to the same means
of writing on the blackboard.

"Do you like me?" The children read this aloud slowly,
were silent for a moment, and then shouted " Yes ". I went on
to write: " Keep silent and be quite still." They read it almost
in a shout, and directly they had finished reading, deep silence
fell in the room, broken by the movement of some chairs which
the children made in settling themselves.

So there began between us communication through the medium
of written language, which proved to be most interesting for the
children. By degrees they discovered the great quality of writing,
that it transmits thought. When I began to write they were eager
in their haste to learn what I intended and to understand it without
my pronouncing a single word.