Scientific Methods As Applied To Child Education In "the Children's Houses"

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xl                             INTRODUCTION
to be sure, have also induced us to teach by the word and the sentence method; but this one has been and will con­tinue to be the deciding factor. We have found it more effective to teach children whole words, sentences, or rhymes by sight, adding to sense impressions the interest aroused by a wide range of associations, and then analysing the words thus acquired into their phonetic elements to give the children independent power in the acquisition of new words. Our marked success with this method makes it by no means certain that it is ain the characteristic process of natural development" for children to build up written words from their elements—sounds and syllables. It would seem, on the contrary, as James concluded, that the mind works quite as naturally in the opposite direc­tion—grasping wholes first, especially such as have a prac­tical interest, and then working down to their formal ele­ments. In the teaching of spelling, of course, the wholes (words) are already known at sight—that is, the pupil recognises them easily in reading—and the process aims at impressing upon the child's mind the exact order of their constituent elements. It is because reading and spelling are in English such completely separate processes that we can teach a child to read admirably without making him a "good speller" and are forced to bring him to the latter glorious state by new endeavours. We gain by this separation both in reading and in spelling, as experience and comparative tests—popular superstition to the con­trary notwithstanding—have conclusively proved. The mastery of the alphabet by the Montessori method will be of great assistance in teaching our children to write, but of only incidental assistance in teaching them to read and to spell.
Once more, then, this Introduction attempts to suggest
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