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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

THE SPEECH OF THE CHILD                   303

which the teachers have to correct, thus depressing the child's
feelings still more, by the constant exposure of mistakes and
imperfections in the marks made. "So whilst the child is being
urged to make efforts, his mental energy is being lowered
rather than stimulated by the teacher. Whatever the method
adopted to teach writing may be—excluding even the old way
of proceeding by means of strokes and curves—the fact remains
that the movements of the hand are not acted upon directly
by either thinking or looking at a sample. A sign to be traced
instead is the only direct guide to the establishment of move-
ment.

Although acquired in such a mistaken way, the written lan-
guage so painfully learnt, has at once to be used for social purposes;
and, imperfect and immature, it is made to serve for the synthetic
construction of language and the expression of ideas by the higher
mental centres.

We remember that in nature spoken language is formed
gradually, and is already established in words when the higher
mental centres are using these words in what Kussmaul calls
dictorium, that is, the grammatical, synthetic formation of the
language necessary for the expression of complex ideas, that is,
the language of the logical mind.

Finally, the mechanism of language must pre-exist the high
mental activities which will have to use it.

There exist, therefore, two periods in the development of
language—the lower one, which prepares the nervous tracts and
the central mechanism which will have to link up the sensory and
the motor tracts; and the higher one determined by the higher
mental activity which is made evident by means of the pre-formed
mechanism of language.

Thus, in the scheme of spoken language as given by Kussmaul,
the most important fact to be noted is that there exists a kind of
reflex cerebral arc which is established during the early stages of
language formation.

Let us consider fig. 1.