218 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
that in preparing the method of observation, we have also prepared the way leading to spiritual discovery.
The education of the senses makes men observers, and not only accomplishes the general work of adaptation to the present epoch of civilisation, but also prepares them directly for practical life. We have had up to the present time, I believe, a most imperfect idea of what is necessary in the practical living of life. We have always started from ideas, and have proceeded thence to motor activities; thus, for example, the method of education has always been to teach intellectually, and then to have the child follow the principles he has been taught. In general, when we are teaching, we talk about the object which interests us, and then we try to lead the scholar, when he has understood, to perform some kind of work with the object itself; but often the scholar who has understood the idea finds great difficulty in the execution of the work which we give him, because we have left out of his education a factor of the utmost importance, namely, the perfecting of the senses. I may, perhaps, illustrate this statement with a few examples. We ask the cook to buy only ' fresh fish.' She understands the idea, and tries to follow it in her marketing, but, if the cook has not been trained to recognise through sight and smell the signs which indicate freshness in the fish, she will not know how to follow the order we have given her.
Such a lack will show itself much more plainly in culinary operations. A cook may be trained in book matters, and may know exactly the recipes and the length of time advised in her cook book; she may be able to perform all the manipulations necessary to give the desired appearance to the dishes, but when it is a question