368 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
about on the child's part, orderly adequate action; that is, the child is able each time to execute the command received. That these facts (with variations in individual cases) are laws of psychical development is apparent from everyone's experience with children in school or at home.
One often hears a child say, " I did do such and such a thing but now I can't! " and a teacher disappointed by the incompetence of a pupil will say, " Yet that child was doing it all right — and now he can't! "
Finally there is the period of complete development in which the capacity to perform some operation is permanently acquired. There are, therefore, three periods: a first, subconscious one, when in the confused mind of the child, order produces itself by a mysterious inner impulse from out the midst of disorder, producing as an external result a completed act, which, however, being outside the field of consciousness, cannot be reproduced at will; a second, conscious period, when there is some action on the part of the will which is present during the process of the development and establishing of the acts; and a third period when the will can direct and cause the acts, thus answering the command from someone else.
Now, obedience follows a similar sequence. When in the first period of spiritual disorder, the child does not obey it is exactly as if he were psychically deaf, and out of hearing of commands. In the second period he would like to obey, he looks as though he understood the command and would like to respond to it, but cannot,— or at least does not always succeed in doing it, is not " quick to mind " and shows no pleasure when he does. In the third period he obeys at once, with enthusiasm, and as he becomes more and more perfect in the exercises he is