210 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
while my brief comments are followed by intervals of immobility and silence, the other children are watching and listening. Many of them are interested in the fact, which they have never noticed before; namely, that we make so many noises of which we are not conscious, and that there are degrees of silence. There is an absolute silence where nothing, absolutely nothing moves. They watch me in amazement when I stand in the middle of the room, so quietly that it is really as if " I were not." Then they strive to imitate me, and to do even better. I call attention here and there to a foot that moves, almost inadvertently. The attention of the child is called to every part of his body in an anxious eagerness to attain to immobility.
When the children are trying in this way, there is established a silence very different from that which we carelessly call by that name.
It seems as if life gradually vanishes, and that the room becomes, little by little, empty, as if there were no longer anyone in it. Then we begin to hear the tick-tock of the clock, and this sound seems to grow in intensity as the silence becomes absolute. From without, from the court which before seemed silent, there come varied noises, a bird chirps, a child passes. The children sit fascinated by that silence as if by some conquest of their own. " Here," says the directress, " here there is no longer anyone; the children have all gone away."
Having arrived at that point, we darken the windows, and tell the children to close their eyes, resting their heads upon their hands. They assume this position, and in the darkness the absolute silence returns.
" Now listen," we say. " A soft voice is going to call your name." Then going to a room behind the children, and standing within the open door, I call in a low voice,