THE METHOD AND THE MATERIAL 287
way in which writing was taught, and we have had from this school most beautiful specimens of writing, and for this reason, perhaps I cannot do better than to describe the development of the work in this school.
One beautiful December day when the sun shone and the air was like spring, I went up on the roof with the children. They were playing freely about, and a number of them were gathered about me. I was sitting near a chimney, and said to a little five-year-old boy who sat beside me, " Draw me a picture of this chimney," giving him as I spoke a piece of chalk. He got down obediently and made a rough sketch of the chimney on the tiles which formed the floor of this roof terrace. As is my custom with little children, I encouraged him, praising his work. The child looked at me, smiled, remained for a moment as if on the point of bursting into some joyous act, and then cried out, " I can write! I can write! " and kneeling down again he wrote on the pavement the word " hand." Then, full of enthusiasm, he wrote also " chimney," " roof." As he wrote, he continued to cry out, " I can write! I know how to write! " His cries of joy brought the other children, who formed a circle about him, looking down at his work in stupefied amazement. Two or three of them said to me, trembling with excitement, " Give me the chalk. I can write too." And indeed they began to write various words: mama, hand, John, chimney, Ada.
Not one of them had ever taken chalk or any other instrument in hand for the purpose of writing. It was the first time that they had ever written, and they traced an entire word, as a child, when speaking for the first time, speaks the entire word.
The first word spoken by a baby causes the mother