82 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
of the didactic materials. The doors of these cupboards open easily, and the care of the materials is confided to the children. The tops of these cases furnish room for potted plants, small aquariums, or for the various toys with which the children are allowed to play freely. We have ample blackboard space, and these boards are so hung as to be easily used by the smallest child. Each blackboard is provided with a small case in which are kept the chalk, and the white cloths which we use instead of the ordinary erasers.
Above the blackboards are hung attractive pictures, chosen carefully, representing simple scenes in which children would naturally be interested. Among the pictures in our " Children's Houses " in Rome we have hung a copy of Raphael's " Madonna della Seggiola," and this picture we have chosen as the emblem of the " Children's Houses." For indeed, these " Children's Houses" represent not only social progress, but universal human progress, and are closely related to the elevation of the idea of motherhood, to the progress of woman and to the protection of her offspring. In this beautiful conception, Raphael has not only shown us the Madonna as a Divine Mother holding in her arms the babe who is greater than she, but by the side of this symbol of all motherhood, he has placed the figure of St. John, who represents humanity. So in Raphael's picture we see humanity rendering homage to maternity,— maternity, the sublime fact in the definite triumph of humanity. In addition to this beautiful symbolism, the picture has a value as being one of the greatest works of art of Italy's greatest artist. And if the day shall come when the " Children's Houses " shall be established throughout the world, it is our wish that this picture of Raphael's shall have its place in each of the schools,