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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

376               THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

his a reality. If he had filled the bucket he would perhaps have
emptied it, to refill it many times until his ego was completely
satisfied. In pursuit of this satisfaction, I had, a short time before,
seen him with a rosy, smiling countenance: inward happiness,
exercise and the sun constituted the three beams of light which
were helping to build up that splendid life.

This simple episode forms an illustration of what happens to
children all over the world, to the best and the most dearly loved
of them. They are not understood because the adult judges them
by his own standard; he believes that the child is bent upon external
projects, and in a friendly way helps him to attain them, whereas
the child is dominated unconsciously by the need to develop him-
self. For that reason he disparages what is done and loves what
there is to be done. For instance, he prefers the act of dressing
himself to the time when he sees himself dressed, even grandly;
he likes the act of washing himself better than the comfort of feeling
clean; he likes to build a house rather than to possess one. This
is because what he has to do is to form life for himself, not just
to enjoy it. In this formation exists his true and almost only
enjoyment. That very beautiful baby of the Pincio is the symbol
of it. He wanted to co-ordinate his voluntary movements, to exert
his muscular energy in lifting things, to use his eyes in measuring
distances, to use his intelligence in the reasoning needed for the
work of filling his bucket, to develop his own will in deciding what
should be done. Instead of that, some one who loved him,
imagining that his desire was to possess stones, made him unhappy.

Similar to this error, and of very common occurrence is the
assumption that the object to be aimed at for the pupil is intel-
lectual knowledge, and the teacher teaches children just as the
mother or the nurse washes them and dresses them. Children,
however, must acquire knowledge by their own activity according
to the dictates of nature.

But by leaving our children at liberty we have been able to
follow them with great certainty along the paths in which their
powers develop spontaneously.