INTELLECTUAL EDUCATION 237
remain for a long time confused in his mind and in his speech, if we do not interpose such help as that we give in the teaching of forms.
We should reflect upon the fact that many times a child, left to himself, makes an undue effort to comprehend the language of the adults and the meaning of the things about him. Opportune and rational instruction prevents such an effort, and therefore does not weary, but relieves, the child and satisfies his desire for knowledge. Indeed, he shows his contentment by various expressions of pleasure. At the same time, his attention is called to the word which, if he is allowed to pronounce badly, develops in him an imperfect use of the language.
This often arises from an effort on his part to imitate the careless speech of persons about him, while the teacher, by pronouncing clearly the word referring to the object which arouses the child's curiosity, prevents such effort and such imperfections.
Here, also, we face a widespread prejudice; namely, the belief that the child left to himself gives absolute repose to his mind. If this were so he would remain a stranger to the world, and, instead, we see him, little by little, spontaneously conquer various ideas and words. He is a traveller through life, who observes the new things among which he journeys, and who tries to understand the unknown tongue spoken by those about him. Indeed, he makes a great and voluntary effort to understand and to imitate. The instruction given to little children should be so directed as to lessen this expenditure of poorly directed effort, converting it instead into the enjoyment of conquest made easy and infinitely broadened. We are the guides of these travellers just entering the great world of human thought. We should see to it that we are in-