THE METHOD AND THE MATERIAL 307
once or twice until they are certain they understand it. They then give the slip back to the directress and set about carrying out the action. Since many of these actions call for the help of the other children who do not know how to read, and since many of them call for the handling and use of the materials, a general activity develops amid marvellous order, while the silence is only interrupted by the sound of little feet running lightly, and by the voices of the children who sing. This is an unexpected revelation of the perfection of spontaneous discipline.
Experience has shown us that composition must precede logical reading, as writing preceded the reading of the word. It has also shown that reading, if it is to teach the child to receive an idea, should be mental and not vocal.
Reading aloud implies the exercise of two mechanical forms of the language — articulate and graphic — and is, therefore, a complex task. Who does not know that a grown person who is to read a paper in public prepares for this by making himself master of the content ? Reading aloud is one of the most difficult intellectual actions. The child, therefore, who begins to read by interpreting thought should read mentally. The written language must isolate itself from the articulate, when it rises to the interpretation of logical thought. Indeed, it represents the language which transmits thought at a distance, while the senses and the muscular mechanism are silent. It is a spiritualised language, which puts into communication all men who know how to read.
Education having reached such a point in the " Children's Houses," the entire elementary school must, as a logical consequence, be changed. How to reform the lower grades in the elementary schools, eventually carrying