160 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
tivation of the living things, because they by their natural development give back far more than they receive, and show something like infinity in their beauty and variety. When the child has cultivated the iris or the pansy, the rose or the hyacinth, has placed in the soil a seed or a bulb and periodically watered it, or has planted a fruit-bearing shrub, and the blossomed flower and the ripened fruit offer themselves as a generous gift of nature, a rich reward for a small effort; it seems almost as if nature were answering with her gifts to the feeling of desire, to the vigilant love of the cultivator, rather than striking a balance with his material efforts.
It will be quite different when the child has to gather the material fruits of his labour: motionless, uniform objects, which are consumed and dispersed rather than increased and multiplied.
The difference between the products of nature and those of industry, between divine products and human products — it is this that must be born spontaneously in the child's conscience, like the determination of a fact.
But at the same time, as the plant must give its fruit, so man must give his labour.
Fifth. The child follows the natural way of development of the human race. In short, such education makes the evolution of the individual harmonise with that of humanity. Man passed from the natural to the artificial state through agriculture: when he discovered the secret of intensifying the production of the soil, he obtained the reward of civilisation.
The same path must be traversed by the child who is destined to become a civilised man.
The action of educative nature so understood is very practically accessible. Because, even if the vast stretch