256 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
the world awaits its progress. We have already learned to make use of our surroundings, but I believe that we have arrived at a time when the necessity presents itself for utilising human force, through a scientific education.
To return to Seguin's method of writing, it illustrates another truth, and that is the tortuous path we follow in our teaching. This, too, is allied to an instinct for complicating things, analogous to that which makes us so prone to appreciate complicated things. We have Se-guin teaching gRometry in order to teach a child to write; and making the child's mind exert itself to follow geom-etrical abstractions only to come down to the simple effort of drawing a printed D. After all, must the child not have to make another effort in order to forget the print, and learn the script?
And even we in these days still believe that in order to learn to write the child must first make vertical strokes. This conviction is very general. Yet it does not seem natural that to write the letters of the alphabet, which are all rounded, it should be necessary to begin with straight lines and acute angles.
In all good faith, we wonder that it should be difficult to do away with the angularity and stiffness with which the beginner traces the beautiful curve of the 0.* Yet, through what effort on our part, and on his, was he forced to fill pages and pages with rigid lines and acute angles! To whom is due this time-honoured idea that the first sign to be traced must be a straight line? And why do we so avoid preparing for curves as well as angles ?
Let us, for a moment, divest ourselves of such preconceptions and proceed in a more simple way. We may be
* It will, of course, be understood that this is a criticism of the system in use in Italian schools. A. E. G.