PEDAGOGICAL METHODS 83
speaking eloquently of the country in which they originated.
The children, of course, cannot comprehend the symbolic significance of the " Madonna of the Chair," but they will see something more beautiful than that which they feel in more ordinary pictures, in which they see mother, father, and children. And the constant companionship with this picture will awaken in their heart a religious impression.
This, then, is the environment which I have selected for the children we wish to educate.
I know the first objection which will present itself to the minds of persons accustomed to the old-time methods of discipline; — the children in these schools, moving about, will overturn the little tables and chairs, producing noise and disorder; but this is a prejudice which has long existed in the minds of those dealing with little children, and for which there is no real foundation.
Swaddling clothes have for many centuries been considered necessary to the new-born babe, walking-chairs to the child who is learning to walk. So in the school, we still believe it necessary to have heavy desks and chairs fastened to the floor. All these things are based upon the idea that the child should grow in immobility, and upon the strange prejudice that, in order to execute any educational movement, we must maintain a special position of the body; — as we believe that we must assume a special position when we are about to pray.
Our little tables and our various types of chairs are all light and easily transported, and we permit the child to select the position which he finds most comfortable. He can make himself comfortable as well as seat himself