EDUCATION OF THE SENSES 209
Tests for Acuteness of Hearing
The only entirely successful experiments which we have made so far in the " Children's Houses " are those of the clock, and of the lowered or whispered voice. The trial is purely empirical, and does not lend itself to the measuring of the sensation, but it is, however, most useful in that it helps us to an approximate knowledge of the child's auditory acuteness.
The exercise consists in calling attention, when perfect silence has been established, to the ticking of the clock, and to all the little noises not commonly audible to the ear. Finally we call the little ones, one by one from an adjoining room, pronouncing each name in a low voice. In pre-paring for such an exercise it is necessary to teach the children the real meaning of silence.
Toward this end I have several games of silence, which help in a surprising way to strengthen the remarkable discipline of our children.
I call the children's attention to myself, telling them to see how silent I can be. I assume different positions; standing, sitting, and maintain each pose silently, without movement. A finger moving can produce a noise, even though it be imperceptible. We may breathe so that we may be heard. But I maintain absolute silence, which is not an easy thing to do. I call a child, and ask him to do as I am doing. He adjusts his feet to a better position, and this makes a noise! He moves an arm, stretching it out upon the arm of his chair; it is a noise. His breathing is not altogether silent, it is not tranquil, absolutely unheard as mine is.
During these manoeuvres on the part of the child, and