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

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16               THE MONTESSORI METHOD
principle of slavery still pervades pedagogy, and, there­fore, the same principle pervades the school. I need only give one proof — the stationary desks and chairs. Here we have, for example, a striking evidence of the errors of the early materialistic scientific pedagogy which, with mistaken zeal and energy, carried the barren stones of science to the rebuilding of the crumbling walls of the school. The schools were at first furnished with the long, narrow benches upon which the children were crowded together. Then came science and perfected the bench. In this work much attention was paid to the recent con­tributions of anthropology. The age of the child and the length of his limbs were considered in placing the seat at the right height. The distance between the seat and the desk was calculated with infinite care, in order that the child's back should not become deformed, and, finally, the seats were separated and the width so closely calculated that the child could barely seat himself upon it, while to stretch himself by making any lateral movements was impossible. This was done in order that he might be separated from his neighbour. These desks are con­structed in such a way as to render the child visible in all his immobility. One of the ends sought through this separation is the prevention of immoral acts in the school­room. What shall we say of such prudence in a state of society where it would be considered scandalous to give voice to principles of sex morality in education, for fear we might thus contaminate innocence ? And, yet, here we have science lending itself to this hypocrisy, fabricating machines! !N"ot only this; obliging science goes farther still, perfecting the benches in such a way as to permit to the greatest possible extent the immobility of the child, or, if you wish, to repress every movement of the child.
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