Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/825

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


CHILDREN'S QUESTIONING. 801

mica was silicate of potash, and he asked, "Why is mica silicate of potash ? Because they put ashes in a pot ?

These questions have been recorded to represent an innumer- able number unrecorded, and to show the wide range of thought and the variety of reasonings that a child under six years of age may have. They show his natural method of acquiring knowl- edge, but they can only suggest the ceaseless activity of his mind during all his waking hours.

His habit, to a greater or less degree, is the habit of all chil- dren. Very early, even before they begin to talk, they manifest a desire to know the causes of things ; and they continue to show natural curiosity until they go to school, which they seem to recognize as a place where curiosity is very much out of place, since so little opportunity is given for its exercise. In that case curiosity is apt to be replaced by laziness and apparent dullness.

Out of school they are, with rare exceptions, very thoughtful and exceedingly busy about something. They question much for the satisfaction which they experience in finding reasons or ex- planations of various acts. Each questions from his own point of view, and thereby increases his understanding and develops his own mind. These voluntary questions engage his whole atten- tion ; they are for the time of the highest interest to him, and, on that account, of the greatest importance to his proper mental de- velopment. As he leaps about for the mere pleasure of physical movement, his thoughts also dart about among scenes past and present, and imagination carries him on to the future and back again like a flash. What pleasure he takes in these mental and physical movements when he is at full liberty to do as ho pleases ! He is happy because he is fulfilling the laws of his being, devel- oping his mind and body by his own self-activities. He can not help questioning any more than he can help jumping or thinking. In a proper home there is only moderate restriction on any of these means of development, and accordingly he develops there very fast. In the fields and woods also there are no restrictions on natural development. Running in the fields, climbing trees, and playing games of all sorts are powerful developing processes. Queries are rapidly formed and as rapidly answered, probabilities are balanced, decisions are made, and bodily movements follow in exact conformity to the judgment and will.

The moment children step into the ordinary schoolroom oppor- tunities for questioning and spontaneous judging and willing are cut off. They are now going to be trained and developed by a logical, systematic, step-by-step method, frequently called nor- mal. All physical movements with any vigor in them must be regulated by a minutely detailed system of gymnastics, which frequently comes to be so dominant that all natural play at recess

VOL. XLIX. — 62

�� �