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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

392              THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

the spirit of the child, erect and balanced, is guiding by itself the
four intellectual victories—the four horses of the triumphal chariot
which races onward, instinct with strength, towards the far
distant goals of culture.

The real centre of this great experience is, however, a discovery
in the field of child psychology. Every further development follows
that first revelation by the children of San Lorenzo, that strange,
inexplicable capacity to reproduce such long words, the meaning
of which was not even always known to them, by means of the
movable alphabet, that surprising phenomenon of the explosion
into writing, but also the almost miraculous fact of the establish-
ment of spontaneous discipline in such young children. All this
happened in the most inexplicable way, because they were not
taught directly, neither were they submitted to any compulsion.
Yet these phenomena did not happen only once in a special
environment, they were repeated in every part of the world where
our procedure was followed with sincerity and exactitude.

These extraordinary phenomena revealed a hidden part of the
soul of the child. This is the real pivot of all our work, because
it was developed round these phenomena and guided by them.
That is also why these experiments and the method that was built
upon them cannot be understood lest recognition is given to the
fact that it is connected with a special mental form found only in
the creative period of early infancy.

Above all else there emerges from this great experiment the
demonstration of the fact that in the child under six years of age
there exists a " mental form " different from that which is develop-
ed after six or seven years of age, and which is therefore different
from that of the adult. The difference is accentuated in the
smallest children, back to the time of birth. We call this the
? absorbent mind " of the child, and a first account has already
appeared in the book, " Nuova Educazione per un Nuovo Mondo "
{Education for a New World); but there is in preparation a book,
** La Mente Assordmte " (The Absorbent Mind)> dealing with child
psychology, which will soon be published.