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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/831

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CHILDREN'S QUESTIONING.

be reached if they are to be educated properly. Education must become less Pestalozzian and more Froebelian. So it does become when children question.

The idea of educating children through play, where self-activities are at their best, is not new, having been not only clearly set forth in theory but reduced to practice by Froebel. The only application of the play element as a means of development in our systems of education is found in the kindergarten. No one has shown how it can be made useful in schools beyond the kindergarten. To most teachers it seems utterly incompatible with the work of such schools. They are not willing to admit in any degree that "play is the work of the child." If the play element is of so high educational value in the kindergarten, why is it not of much higher value all along up through the elementary school, where the pupils play much more vigorously, intelligently, and skillfully? Even young men and women who give up so much for baseball, polo, tennis, and golf, prove that the play element abides long; and, although it now results in healthful exercise, and a development of body and mind that is too frequently and unwarrantably claimed as the result of school work, it might be turned to the account of school education if half the time and attention given to prescribed studies were given to it.

Full opportunity to ash questions in the schoolroom in school time gives the play impulse in children an excellent outlet. Their unique expressions and inadequate conceptions result in questions and answers that are not only instructive but decidedly entertaining to all concerned. They are often irresistibly funny without intending to be. On the other hand, there being ample room for the play of thought, the zest of play frequently runs through their exercises. When the teacher sees the need of comment or explanation, the attitude of their minds is exactly appropriate, and their attention spontaneous and perfect; never so willing and complete when the teacher talks, questions, reasons, prescribes, and compels. This judgment is not the result of a single, ephemeral experiment, but of demonstrations repeated through years.

Under the system of spontaneous questions and self-conducted exercises "blue Monday," so called on account of the apparent dullness of pupils on Monday forenoon, disappears with the apparent exhaustion on Friday afternoon. The opportunity to stand up, turn about, and use muscles and wills in a way that does not savor of militarism and gymnastics conduces to great activity and excellent temper. Appropriate conditions determine the spirit of all life and action.

The habit of asking questions puts the questioner in the attitude of an investigator and develops an active habit of mind. Always to be questioned induces waiting passivity, and the dif-