Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/282

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constitutes organic memory, which may or may not be accompanied by active consciousness. They may be good or bad habits.

It is obvious that this store of working habits, mental and physical automatisms, must be acquired as early and as correctly as possible, so that the essentials of education shall be abundant, varied and precise; and then we may combine and elaborate them as we grow in age and facility. "When the time comes to specialize in any direction we have need for an equipment in all the simpler automatisms, that we may group them unhesitatingly to form the basis of our later adaptations.

It is in the last degree unfortunate if our early habits, dynamic associations, are not sufficiently varied and exact to confidently assume precision in responses when we need them as conditions for those specializations which later constitute our life-work.

To attain useful facilities in any line of human endeavor the training of the senses should be systematically pursued from the earliest manifestations of attention. Sense perception opens up the way to form concepts of objects, but is of use only when supplemented by motor impulse. Every normal sense impression tends to pass into movement, and is of use only in so far as it does so; in short, conditions for motor development depend upon sensory impulses.

Mental visualizations, interpretations of images, concepts of form, can arise only through motor outflows. Ideas are of potency in proportion as they include the elements of motion, the impulse to do.

Thought is a word much in use, but the act of thinking is by no means a constant process, even with the most intelligent. Much of what is called thought is, in most instances, merely automatic action aroused by some sensory impulse. To think deeply, to exert intellectual force, is rarely needed in the day's work; but every human being has constant need of myriad accurate automatisms, the product of early and varied associations of sense impressions along with muscular acts. The product of these is the idea, the memory image. When rightly formed, full reactions between observations and applications they become unerring guides to conduct. They serve most of life's purposes and are absolutely essential, are become, in the main, dependable. Promptings must, of course, be incessantly modified by intelligent inhibition, the checking of over-action, judicious selection of courses of action.

Whatever the direction that life-work may take, that child is especially fortunate who is compelled to acquire a store of motor reactions long before the reasons for them are understood. This essential equipment is only to be secured during the period of plasticity, while the tissues, brain-cells, nervous mechanisms, etc., are elastic, impressionable. After this period, which slowly subsides, passing gradually into varying degrees of adaptability, the formation of new yet efficient automatisms becomes increasingly difficult.