Scientific Methods As Applied To Child Education In "the Children's Houses"

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LANGUAGE IN CHILDHOOD              311
of new mechanisms which are established in the nervous system, and as an instrument which may be utilised for social ends.
In short, it is a question of giving to written language not only a physiological importance, but also a period of development independent of the high functions which it is destined to perform later.
It seems to me that graphic language bristles with difficulties in its beginning, not only because it has here­tofore been taught by irrational methods, but because we have tried to make it perform, as soon as it has been ac­quired, the high function of teaching the written lan­guage which has been fixed by centuries of perfecting in a civilised people.
Think how irrational have been the methods we have used! We have analysed the graphic signs rather than the physiological acts necessary to produce the alphabeti­cal signs; and this without considering that any graphic sign is difficult to achieve, because the visual representa­tion of the signs have no hereditary connection with the motor representations necessary for producing them; as, for example, the auditory representations of the word have with the motor mechanism of the articulate language. It is, therefore, always a difficult thing to provoke a stimulative motor action unless we have already estab­lished the movement before the visual representation of the sign is made. It is a difficult thing to arouse an activity that shall produce a motion unless that motion shall have been previously established by practice and by the power of habit.
Thus, for example, the analysis of writing into little straight lines and curves has brought us to present to the child a sign without significance, which therefore does
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