260 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
and unprejudiced in spirit as the truth which we are seeking.
" Let us observe an individual who is writing, and let us seeh to analyse the acts he performs in writing," that is. the mechanical operations which enter into the execution of writing. This would be undertaking the philosophical study of writing, and it goes without saying that we should examine the individual who writes, not the writing; the subject, not the object. Many have begun with the object, examining the writing, and in this way many methods have been constructed.
But a method starting from the individual would be decidedly original — very different from other methods which preceded it. It would indeed signify a new era in writing, based upon anthropology.
In fact, when I undertook my experiments with normal children, if I had thought of giving a name to this new method of writing, I should have called it without knowing what the results would be, the anthropological method. Certainly, my studies in anthropology inspired the method, but experience has given me, as a surprise, another title which seems to me the natural one, " the method of spontaneous writing."
While teaching deficient children I happened to observe the following fact: An idiot girl of eleven years, who was possessed of normal strength and motor power in her hands, could not learn to sew, or even to take the first step, darning, which consists in passing the needle first over, then under the woof, now taking up, now leaving, a number of threads.
I set the child to weaving with the Froebel mats, in which a strip of paper is threaded transversely in and out among vertical strips of paper held fixed at top and bot-