Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/776

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It is bard for the uninitiated to understand that the grade, be it high, middle, or low, is not associated with promotion and advancement as in schools for normal children. On the contrary, it signifies the quality and status of the individual, his limitations, bis possibilities, and consequently determines almost unfailingly the training for bis life work; not by any hard-and-fast lines, but by a general mapping out of means which experience has proved will best insure his development, because best suited to his needs. Every latitude is allowed and, as the comfort of both the teacher and the entire class depends upon each going to his own place, there is easy and natural transference according to the necessity indicated by either progress or retrogression; but the varied occupations in each grade give ample scope for indulgence of individual proclivity in the means of development, and it is found that the original diagnosis, based upon experience, rarely errs.

The motto of the schools—"We learn by doing; the working-hand makes strong the working brain"—shows manual training to be the basis of the scheme of development, varied for each grade to suit the intelligence. Thus classified, various occupations are arranged and presented with the double intent of securing all-round development, and of giving at the same time opportunity for choice according to individual bent, the child being gradually permitted to devote himself more exclusively to that in which he shows a tendency to excel, and to gain a certain automatic ease in what shall prove the initial of a life employment. A knowledge of writing and of numbers is acquired incidentally as a necessary part of these occupations in daily practice, and arithmetic, taught with objects, is chiefly counting, separating into fractional parts, and practical measurements. Books are used rather as a convenient means of attracting and holding attention while inducing habits of consecutive thinking than for a knowledge of facts to be memorized. Those who can learn to read gain naturally a means of self-entertainment, of self-instruction, hence a certain amount of culture, so long as protected in an institution from indiscriminate and pernicious literature.

The low-grade imbecile, but a slight degree removed from the idio-imbecile, is, like him, totally incapable of grasping artificial signs or symbols. He can therefore never learn to read or write; figures have no meaning for him, nor numbers, beyond the very simplest counting acquired in the daily repetition of some simple task such as knitting, netting, braiding rope, straw, or knotting twine. The excitation of interest in these, which will also give hand and arm power, the arousing of the sluggish, indolent will, through the stimulus of pleasurable emotions, the physical development by means of the various drills and the moral influence of refined, orderly surroundings—these, together