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

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This work cannot be arbitrarily offered, and it is pre­cisely here that our method enters; it must be work which the human being instinctively desires to do, work towards which the latent tendencies of life naturally turn, or to­wards which the individual step by step ascends.
Such is the work which sets the personality in order and opens wide before it infinite possibilities of growth. Take, for instance, the lack of control shown by a baby; it is fundamentally a lack of muscular discipline. The child is in a constant state of disorderly movement: he throws himself down, he makes queer gestures, he cries. What underlies all this is a latent tendency to seek that co-ordination of movement which will be established later. The baby is a man not yet sure of the movements of the various muscles of the body; not yet master of the organs of speech. He will eventually establish these various movements, but for the present he is abandoned to a period of experimentation full of mistakes, and of fatiguing ef­forts towards a desirable end latent in his instinct, but not clear in his consciousness. To say to the baby, " Stand still as I do," brings no light into his darkness; com­mands cannot aid in the process of bringing order into the complex psycho-muscular system of an individual in process of evolution. We are confused at this point by the example of the adult who through a wicked impulse prefers disorder, and who may (granted that he can) obey a sharp admonishment which turns his will in another direction, towards that order which he recognises and which it is within his capacity to achieve. In the case of the little child it is a question of aiding the natural evolu­tion of voluntary action. Hence it is necessary to teach all the co-ordinated movements, analysing them as much as possible and developing them bit by bit.
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