94 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
If we can, when we have established individual discipline, arrange the children, sending each one to his own place, in order, trying to make them understand the idea that thus placed they look well, and that it is a good thing to be thus placed in order, that it is a good and pleasing arrangement in the room, this ordered and tranquil adjustment of theirs — then their remaining in their places, quiet and silent, is the result of a species of lesson, not an imposition. To make them understand the idea, without calling their attention too forcibly to the practice, to have them assimilate a principle of collective order — that is the important thing.
If, after they have understood this idea, they rise, speak, change to another place, they no longer do this without knowing and without thinking, but they do it because they wish to rise, to speak, etc.; that is, from that state of repose and order, well understood, they depart in order to undertake some voluntary action; and knowing that there are actions which are prohibited, this will give them a new impulse to remember to discriminate between good and evil.
The movements of the children from the state of order become always more co-ordinated and perfect with the passing of the days; in fact, they learn to reflect upon their own acts. Now (with the idea of order understood by the children) the observation of the way in which the children pass from the first disordered movements to those which are spontaneous and ordered — this is the book of the teacher; this is the book which must inspire her actions ; it is the only one in which she must read and study if she is to become a real educator.
For the child with such exercises makes, to a certain extent,- a selection of his own tendencies, which were at