THE METHOD AND THE MATERIAL 295
cient to lead an illiterate person, not only to write, but to express his thoughts in written language.
So much for the time necessary for learning. As to the execution, our children write well from the moment in which they begin. The form of the letters, beautifully rounded and flowing, is surprising in its similarity to the form of the sandpaper models. The beauty of our writing is rarely equalled by any scholars in the elementary schools, who have not had special exercises in penmanship. I have made a close study of penmanship, and I know how difficult it would be to teach pupils of twelve or thirteen years to write an entire word without lifting the pen, except for the few letters which require this. The up and down strokes with which they have filled their copy-book make flowing writing almost impossible to them.
Our little pupils, on the other hand, spontaneously, and with a marvellous security, write entire words without lifting the pen, maintaining perfectly the slant of the letters, and making the distance between each letter equal. This has caused more than one visitor to exclaim, " If I had not seen it I should never have believed it." Indeed, penmanship is a superior form of teaching and is necessary to correct defects already acquired and fixed. It is a long work, for the child, seeing the model, must follow the movements necessary to reproduce it, while there is no direct correspondence between the visual sensation and the movements which he must make. Too often, penmanship is taught at an age when all the defects have become established, and when the physiological period in which the muscular memory is ready, has been passed.
We directly prepare the child, not only for writing, but also for penmanship, paying great attention to the beauty of form (having the children touch the letters in script