350 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
but very soon, the instant that real discipline appears, all of this falls miserably to the earth, an illusion confronted with reality —" night gives way to day."
The first dawning of real discipline comes through work. At a given moment it happens that a child becomes keenly interested in a piece of work, showing it by the expression of his face, by his intense attention, by his perseverance in the same exercise. That child has set foot upon the road leading to discipline. Whatever be his undertaking — an exercise for the senses, an exercise in buttoning up or lacing together, or washing dishes — it is all one and the same.
On our side, we can have some influence upon the permanence of this phenomenon, by means of repeated " Lessons of Silence." The perfect immobility, the attention alert to catch the cound of the names whispered from a distance, then the carefully co-ordinated movements executed so as not to strike against chair or table, so as barely to touch the floor with the feet — all this is a most efficacious preparation for the task of setting in order the whole personality, the motor forces and the psychical.
Once the habit of work is formed, we must supervise it with scrupulous accuracy, graduating the exercises as experience has taught us. In our effort to establish discipline, we must rigorously apply the principles of the method. It is not to be obtained by words; no man learns self-discipline " through hearing another man speak." The phenomenon of discipline needs as preparation a series of complete actions, such as are presupposed in the genuine application of a really educative method. Discipline is reached always by indirect means. The end is obtained, not by attacking the mistake and fighting it, but by developing activity in spontaneous work.