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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

302               THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

writing may be considered by itself, in its formation as an organic
whole of new mechanisms which are established in the nervous
system and as means usable for social purposes.

It is a question of giving to written language, apart from its
physiological importance, a period of development which is inde-
pendent of its other functions and which is destined to be
completed later.

I believe that writing bristles with difficulties at the beginning,
not only because up till today it has been taught by irrational
methods, but because we have wanted to make it carry out, when
it has barely been acquired, the lofty function of written language,
which has been fixed by centuries of efforts made by the people.

Let us think of the irrationality of these methods. We have
- analysed the written signs rather than the physiological acts neces-
sary to produce the alphabetic signs, yet the visible representations
of the signs have no hereditary connection with the motor side of
their execution, as for example, the auditory expression of the
word has with the motor mechanism of spoken language. It is,
therefore, always difficult to provoke an excito-motor action unless
movement has already been prepared for its arrival. The idea
cannot act directly on the motor nerves, which is all the more
apparent when the idea itself is incomplete and incapable of
sustaining a feeling which excites the will.

Thus the analysis of writing made in the * curves' and
" strokes' has led to the child's being presented with a sign devoid
of meaning, which for that reason does not interest him, and the
making of which cannot determine a spontaneous motor impulse.
The action expected constitutes an efiFort of the will, which in the
child soon degenerates into weariness, into boredom and simple
-endurance. To such an effort there would be added that of setting
up at the same time the muscular connections co-ordinating the
movements necessary for holding and manipulating the writing
instrument.

A combination of depressing feelings accompanies these
-efforts, leading to the production of imperfect and wrong signs,