The Rational Education of Childhood
Education in which the child is not the first artisan of his education is more dangerous than profitable.
How to educate the child? How to make him a man and not a slave?
It is necessary for the child to educate himself, not only because forced attendance is harmful to his development, not only because what he has discovered settles better in his mind than what he has learned, but above all because the “faculty of discovery is the first and most precious of all; the one who wants to be cared for, maintained, developed with the most care and respect”.
Let us not lose sight of the fact that providing answers in advance to the child who does not question means stopping the momentum of research, making his mind lazy, atrophying his sagacity.
It is impossible to argue that the current education system has any effect other than to depress the child.
The child must be boldly considered as a genius to whom the material of his discoveries and the instruments of his experience must be provided.
There is no one method that is suitable for all children. Everyone demands an appropriate culture. All faculties, including memory, have their mode of acquisition, varying from one individual to another: he fixes what he hears, he needs to read to retain; he observes when he wants, he observes when he can; he observes exact and limited things, another, imponderables; one child will show equal ability in all branches, while another will mark a tendency to specialize against which the most loyal efforts will fail.
Naturally, we can only rely on the child himself to know in which direction he will embark with joy and passion, that is, with profit.
I know what a smile serious teachers would crush me with if they heard me, but I think that if instead of considering the child as a being to whom we must infuse the science we possess, and as evidenced by diplomas; we boldly considered him as a genius to whom we must provide the material for his discoveries and the instruments for his experiments, the result would be a harvest of geniuses.
So it is a question of resolutely getting out of the rut, of enabling the student to learn, to experiment himself, to be himself the first artisan of his education.