GENERAL REVIEW OF DISCIPLINE 357
A similar error is that which we repeat so frequently when we fancy that the desire of the student is to possess a piece of information. We aid him to grasp intellectually this detached piece of knowledge, and, preventing by this means his self-development, we make him wretched. It is generally believed in schools that the way to attain satisfaction is " to learn something." But by leaving the children in our schools in liberty we have been able with great clearness to follow them in their natural method of spontaneous self-development.
To have learned something is for the child only a point of departure. When he has learned the meaning of an exercise, then he begins to enjoy repeating it, and he does repeat it an infinite number of times, with the most evident satisfaction. He enjoys executing that act because by means of it he is developing his psychic activities.
There results from the observation of this fact a criticism of what is done to-day in many schools. Often, for instance when the pupils are questioned, the teacher says to someone who is eager to answer, " !No, not you, because you know it " and puts her question specially to the pupils who she thinks are uncertain of the answer. Those who do not know are made to speak, those who do know to be silent. This happens because of the general habit of considering the act of knowing something as final.
And yet how many times it happens to us in ordinary life to repeat the very thing we know best, the thing we care most for, the thing to which some living force in us responds. We love to sing musical phrases very familiar, hence enjoyed and become a part of the fabric of our lives. We love to repeat stories of things which please us, which we know very well, even though we are quite