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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION                      361

it is the acts in themselves which attract his attention—the various
.acts of the service, the sign of the Cross, the genuflection, the kiss.
But, little by little, there is made clear also their relevance and the
mystic meaning which is hidden within them.

When the priest began to explain the sacraments, using objects
and reproducing, often with the active help of the children them-
selves, the scenes in the service, I thought that only the oldest
children would concern themselves. But the youngest would not
go away and followed everything with the deepest attention; even
the little ones of three were enchanted as they followed the
proceedings. The priest prepared, for example, the baptismal
font and the ritual objects; he chose from the children themselves
a god-father and a god-mother, and brought there an infant only
a few days old, and set about performing one by one the sacred
rites used in the administration of such a sacrament. On another
occasion, it was a big boy who acted as a disciple and asked for
"baptism, and the children showed keen interest in learning that
baptism, as in the early history of the church, was given always
to adults when they were converted to Christianity. In this way
the children acquired their first ideas about liturgical history.

When the children were able to read there was added another
proceeding which gave them a chance of partly teaching them-
selves. It was to make, on a miniature scale, but with sufficient
accuracy, the objects used in religious service, the priestly vest-
ments, the altar and also some objects representing historical
things and scenes from the Gospels, This was followed by
attaching to the objects tickets on which were written names or
simple descriptive sentences (as in the commands used in the first
reading lessons). This gave the children the chance of repeating
the exercise, as is the general way in the method. Another idea
was to create groups of objects, as was described for the first
reading lessons specially intended to teach phonetic languages, in
which are grouped together words which present the same diffi-
culty, the words then being placed along with the objects of which
they are the names. Here, for a different purpose, the group of