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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

DISCIPLINE IN THE CHILDREN'S HOUSE        381

always agitated and weeping over the frustration of his desperate
efforts—that child is wasting his nervous energy, and his parents
are suffering from an illusion when they believe that such a child
should rest; just as it is an ignorant calumny to consider to be
wicked that little man who is striving already to lay the foundation
for his intellectual edifice. On the contrary, children are really
resting ardently and happily when they are left iat liberty to
displace and replace the geometrical plaques jof the plane
insets offered to their better developed powers. They enjoy
themselves in the most perfect mental peace, quite unaware tLat
eye and hand are being initiated into the mysteries of a new
language.

Most of our children grow calm over their exercises; the
nervous system rests. Then we say that these little ones are good
and quiet; the external discipline so much sought after in ordinary
schools is already far surpassed.

But as a calm man and a disciplined man are not the same,
so here the fact which reveals itself to the world in 'the calmress
of the children is too physical a symptom, too partial and super-
ficial, compared with the true discipline which is "being established
within them.

Often, and in this there exists another prejudice, we believe
that in order to obtain a willing act from the child it is necessary to
give him an order. We pretend that this is so, and we call such a
pretence the * obedience of the child *. We find very small children
particularly disobedient; also, their resistance when they are three
or four years old is enough to drive us to despair and into giving
up the attempt to obtain obedience. We extol to the children the
value of obedience which, according to us, ought to be peculiar to
childhood, an infantile virtue, just because we do not find it in
children except with great difficulty.

It is a very common illusion that one should seek with prayer
or command, or with agitation, anything which is difficult or
impossible to obtain. We ask for obedience from children; children
ask for the moon.