THE METHOD AND THE MATERIAL 293
the immediate success is ample justification for continuing in the way he has chosen.
The fact that all the children, those who are just beginning the three exercises and those who have been writing for months, daily repeat the same exercise, unites them and makes it easy for them to meet upon an apparently equal plane. Here there are no distinctions of beginners, and experts. All of the children fill in the figures with coloured pencils, touch the sandpaper letters and compose words with the movable alphabets; the little ones beside the big ones who help them. He who prepares himself, and he who perfects himself, both follow the same path. It is the same way in life, for, deeper than any social distinction, there lies an equality, a common meeting point, where all men are brothers, or, as in the spiritual life, aspirants and saints again and again pass through the same experiences.
Writing is very quickly learned, because we begin to teach it only to those children who show a desire for it by spontaneous attention to the lesson given by the directress to other children, or by watching the exercises in which the others are occupied. Some individuals learn without ever having received any lessons, solely through listening to the lessons given to others.
In general, all children of four are intensely interested in writing, and some of our children have begun to write at the age of three and a half. We find the children particularly enthusiastic about tracing the sandpaper letters.
During the first period of my experiments, when the children were shown the alphabet for the first time, I one day asked Signorina Bettini to bring out to the terrace where the children were at play, all of the various letters which she herself had made. As soon as the children saw