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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

DISCIPLINE IN THE CHILDREN'S HOUSE        369

in "a practical lesson given to children. These pupils were there
waiting for their turn and when they were called they came up to
receive their lesson which the aspirant-teacher had drawn by lot.
This was evidently no longer a lesson received after the child's
own free choice, but the child was ready to lend himself to the
task which the candidate asked him to do. The children were
quite willing and seemed to understand the emotion of the pupil-
teacher. While they were waiting, the little ones filled in their time
in our presence just as they pleased; they worked continually and
they returned to the interrupted work after their part in the
examination was over. Every now and then some one of them
came and offered us a painting finished whilst they were waiting.

We wondered at the patience, the perseverance, the inexhaust-
ible satisfaction of the children, perhaps the impression might be
given that the children are excessively dominated, if it were not
for the absolute lack of timidity, the shining eyes, the gay, free
bearing, the readiness with which they invite us to inspect their
work or take us round to give explanations; or if they did not
make us feel that we are among people who are masters in their
own house.   The fervour with which they clasp the teacher's knees,
or with which they draw down her head and shoulders in order
to kiss her face reveals a heart which is free to behave as it chooses.
Anyone who has seen them laying the table must have grown
more and more apprehensive, been more and more filled with
wonder: Little waitresses, four years old, carrying knives and
placing them on the table with the things already there; bearing
trays on which there may be as many as five glass tumblers; and
later on moving from table to table bearing the great dish full of
hot soup.   No one cuts herself, breaks a glass, or spills a drop
of soup, this would be a frightful accident! During the meal the
waitresses are unintrusively and continually on the watch; no one
finishes his sout> without being asked at once to have a second
helping, or if he has quite finished, the waitress makes haste to
take away the empty plate.   No child needs to ask for more soup
or to give notice that he has finished.
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