The Child as a Thinker

IN a recent number of Nature there appeared an article by G. B. Mudge, in which the writer protests against some of our modern educational methods and theories. He argues that the child naturally possesses the power to think and reason logically, and that true education retains and develops the thinking powers the child naturally possesses.

We make the following most suggestive and helpful excerpt from the article:—

"Are we not on the wrong track when we talk of 'making thinkers' or of 'training men to think'? Remembering the nature of the child, it rather seems to me that we should be nearer a successful issue if we turned our energies in the direction of retaining and developing the thinking powers it naturally possesses. Any one who chooses to observe the development of a child's mind will, if he does not suppress its natural bent, convince himself that a child from three to five years of age possesses thinking powers of greater capacity than we are in the habit of crediting to it. One of the external evidences of a thoughtful mind is the asking of questions which bear definite and logical relations to each other; and this is precisely what an average child of that age, when talking to a person in sympathy with it, is persistently doing. It is not content with a flimsy and evasive answer, and how strong is its intellectual craving is manifested its evident disappointment or display temper when its ignorant parents impatiently curb its curiosity. It is very seldom that one finds a mother who has endeavored to retain her child's thinking capacities.

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May 16, 1901

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