TEACHING READING AND WRITING 253
the truly natural proceeding necessary to such preparation. He has, besides, the preconception that the deviation of a line, as well as the inexactness with which the child traces it, are due to " the mind and the eye, not to the hand," and so he wearies himself for weeks and months in explaining the direction of lines and in guiding the vision of the idiot.
It seems as if Seguin felt that a good method must start from a superior point, gRometry; the intelligence of the child is only considered worthy of attention in its relation to abstract things. And is not this a common defect ?
Let us observe mediocre men; they pompously assume erudition and disdain simple things. Let us study the clear thought of those whom we consider men of genius. Newton is seated tranquilly in the open air; an apple falls from the tree, he observes it and asks, " Why ?" Phenomena are never insignificant; the fruit which falls and universal gravitation may rest side by side in the mind of a genius.
If Newton had been a teacher of children he would have led the child to look upon the worlds on a starry night, but an erudite person might have felt it necessary first to prepare the child to understand the sublime calculus which is the key to astronomy— Galileo Galilei observed the oscillation of a lamp swung on high, and discovered the laws of the pendulum.
In the intellectual life simplicity consists in divesting one's mind of every preconception, and this leads to the discovery of new things, as, in the moral life, humility and material poverty guide us toward high spiritual conquests.
If we study the history of discoveries, we will find that