THE MONTESSORI METHOD - online book

Scientific Methods As Applied To Child Education In "the Children's Houses"

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EDUCATION OF THE SENSES 205
small boxes filled with different substances, more or less fine (sand or pebbles). The noises are produced by shak­ing the boxes.
In the lessons for the sense of hearing I proceed as fol­lows: I have the teachers establish silence in the usual way and then I continue the work, making the silence more profound. I say, " St! St! " in a series of modulations, now sharp and short, now prolonged and light as a whisper. The children, little by little, become fascinated by this. Occasionally I say, " More silent still — more silent."
I then begin the sibilant St! St! again, making it always lighter and repeating " More silent still," in a barely audi­ble voice. Then I say still in a low whisper, " Now, I hear the clock, now I can hear the buzzing of a fly's wings, now I can hear the whisper of the trees in the garden."
The children, ecstatic with joy, sit in such absolute and complete silence that the room seems deserted; then I whisper, " Let us close our eyes." This exercise repeated, so habituates the children to immobility and to absolute silence that, when one of them interrupts, it needs only a syllable, a gesture to call him back immediately to perfect order.
In the silence, we proceeded to the production of sounds and noises, making these at first strongly contrasted, then, more nearly alike. Sometimes we present the comparisons between noise and sound. I believe that the best results can be obtained with the primitive means employed by Itard in 1805. He used the drum and the bell. His plan was a graduated series of drums for the noises,— or, better, for the heavy harmonic sounds, since these belong to a musical instrument,— and a series of bells. The diapason, the whistles, the boxes, are not attractive to the child, and do not educate the sense of hearing as do these other instru-
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