110 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
Christopher Columbus, but the truth is that not everyone knows how to do this simple thing (to give a lesson with such simplicity). To measure one's own activity, to make it conform to these standards of clearness, brevity and truth, is practically a very difficult matter. Especially is this true of teachers prepared by the old-time methods, who have learned to labour to deluge the child with useless, and often, false words. For example, a teacher who had taught in the public schools often reverted to collectivity. Now in giving a collective lesson much importance is necessarily given to the simple thing which is to be taught, and it is necessary to oblige all the children to follow the teacher's explanation, when perhaps not all of them are disposed to give their attention to the particular lesson in hand. The teacher has perhaps commenced her lesson in this way: — " Children, see if you can guess what I have in my hand! " She knows that the children cannot guess, and she therefore attracts their attention by means of a falsehood. Then she probably says,—" Children, look out at the sky. Have you ever looked at it before ? Have you never noticed it at night when it is all shining with stars ? No! Look at my apron. Do you know what colour it is? Doesn't it seem to you the same colour as the sky ? Very well then, look at this colour I have in my hand. It is the same colour as the sky and my apron. It is blue. Now look around you a little and see if you can find something in the room which is blue. And do you know what colour cherries are, and the colour of the burning coals in the fireplace, etc., etc."
Now in the mind of the child after he has made the useless effort of trying to guess there revolves a confused mass of ideas,— the sky, the apron, the cherries, etc. It will be difficult for him to extract from all this confusion the