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sitates long flights of stairs, to ascend and descend which many times a day, is not only laborious but mischievous to all the older girls and to every feeble child, while the height is not required for ventilation. Again, ventilation is not sufficiently provided for in the plans there offered. For better means, see Report State Board of Health, 1871. As to lighting, see the present paper, under Question IV.
It has been a gain to school hygiene that PHYSICAL EXERCISES have been so generally introduced into our schools; but there is a great tendency to irregularity in the practice of these exercises, and not unfrequently they fall into disuse. Theoretically, their great importance is admitted ; while practically, the time necessary for them is grudged as so much taken from the time of study. The fact is, that spirited and suitable light gymnastics promote instead of hindering study, because they relieve tension, draw off nervous irritability, equalize circulation, deepen respiration, and return the children to their books renewed in mind as well as body, and capable of attention and application, which were impossible to them five minutes before. But these exercises should be a regular part of every session in all schools, and in the younger schools
, should occur oftener than once each half-day. If this were done regularly, intelligently, conscientiously and with spirit, it would effect a distinct improvement in the physique of the pupils in every grade of our schools. What is to be seen at Amherst College as a result of systematic gymnastic teaching and practice, would be observed in the schools, and in a few years we should have progressive physical improvement from primary to high school, instead of the physical deterioration which is now too often evident by the time the higher grades are reached : provided, that we at the same time cease to worry the children.
Several" correspondents” insist on the superiority of voluntary physical exercise over that which is stated and required, and what they say is very true; but it is, nevertheless, a mistake to suppose that the desired result can be attained, except under exceptional circumstances, by leaving these exercises to the tastes and instincts of pupils. In the common schools, where study as well as recitation is wholly or
mainly carried on in the school-rooms, it seems evident that exercise must be stated and required; and in the higher schools which prepare for college or for special occupations, it can even less safely be left to the good sense or tastes of the pupils. For as the studious purpose grows stronger, the childish love of play and frolic grows, wcaker; as study demands more time, sedentary habits grow apace, and the relish for air and exercise wanes, though the need of them is greater.
The indirect, but potent, influence of all educational institutions where physical exercise is ignored, is to depreciate and discourage it, and the results are disastrous to health just in proportion as a student catches the tone of the place. Inasmuch as the higher schools, academies and colleges, not only exert an influence on their own students, but, through them, on all the common schools (for which they furnish teachers, committees, superintendents), inquiries have been made of seventeen of the leading ones in Massachusetts, as to their attitude toward physical culture among their students. It appears from the answers furnished, that in Amherst College alone physical culture is a recognized part of the course of instruction, with a regular professorship, filled by a fully educated physician, who is an experienced gymnast. Attendance on his instruction is required as much as on that of any other members of the faculty. Prizes are offered for excellence in this department, and interesting statistics in regard to it are printed and circulated. Cambridge University and Williams College have each a good gymnasium, freely open to their students, and athletic sports in the open air are encourageil, as they are at Tufts College, which is without a gymnasiun. It is probably true of all the colleges, as it certainly is of Harvard, that "the physique of the undergraduates has conspicuously improved during the last twenty years.” At the Agricultural College there is, of course, no lack of exercise, and the same may be said of a portion of the students
nts at the Worcester Free Institute. Four leading academies for boys all furnish facilities; two of them having military drill, two others fine gymnasiums; in one, gymnastics are taught forty-five minutes each day.
Of the three leading academies for girls, one requires cither
a daily walk of a mile, or half a mile's walk and gymnastics; in addition to this, about one hour daily of domestic work; another requires half an hour's walk A. M. and some exercise P. M.; the third requires light gymnastics daily. Of the four state normal schools, one has a gymnasium and bowling-alleys, besides light gymnastics twenty minutes each day; another has daily frequent light gymnastics; a third, free gymnastics or recess after each recitation; a fourth, * one hour's daily exercise required.” And it should be added, that in the girls' schools these exercises are not required at all times, without discrimination as to periodic inability.
It will be observed, that the position of these influential establishments toward physical culture is decidedly encouraging, and may be expected to become still more so, till this branch of education attains its proper place, and the vigor and
grace and development of the body shall be as distinctly considered and provided for in our educational system as that of the mind. Then the studious and the sluggish will not be left to neglect their health, and all will be trained to enjoy exercise, and to rejoice in the play of limb and lung and sense. To bring about this result in any school, it is evident that we need the influence and example of teachers who not only believe in, but practice and enjoy physical exercises indoors and out.
81. “ By not requiring school gymnastics of that class of scholars who have domestic or horticultural gymnastics at home. Girls are not in a suitable dress at school to practise gymnastics, with or without rings, lances or dumb-bells, without great injury to themselves and their clothes."
128. “Full one-third of the time should be devoted to such exercises as put the mind in full possession of the body: military exercises, gymnastics working and even dancing."
REFERENCES.–See Edwin Chadwick, in Social Science (Brit.) for 1860, on Drill in Schools; Physical Culture at Amherst College (N. Allen), 1869 ; “ Amherst Student,” April, 73; “Vox Populi,” April 9, 1873.
"BETTER LOCATION OF BUILDINGS." Good drainage, dry soil, tolerable shelter from the coldest winds, aspect as regards sunlight, these are matters too little considered when the site of a school-house is
determined. At the same time more thought might well be given to obtaining sheltered and sunny yards and playgrounds. In comparison with the foregoing, it is of little consequence whether the school-house be parallel with the street, or symmetrically placed on the lot of ground, or whether it occupy a conspicuous place. Yet these considerations are the governing ones in locating our school-houses, although they look merely to the effect which the buildings will produce on those who consider externals alone, and have no regard to the essential matter of sanitary fitness. In comparison with these sanitary questions, even the consideration of a location near the centre of the school district becomes immaterial.
* CAREFULLY KEPT REGISTER IN EVERY SCHOOL OF THE CAUSES
AS WELL AS THE NUMBER OF ABSENCES FROM SCHOOL." It being already very generally the rule to require a written "excuse” from the parent of a child who has been absent, stating the reason for his absence, it seems quite practicable to extend the requirement sufficiently to secure a statement of the nature of the sickness, where sickness has caused the absence. It is certain that if this were to be insisted on, we should, in five years thereafter, be in possession of a most valuable mass of statistics, from which we could reason on school hygiene with a certainty which we cannot now attain. Aud we should consequently be able to offer a very satisfactory basis for legislative action on this subject.
SANITARY INSPECTION. Every city should have a sanitary inspector and instructor of schools, who should be a physician.
Every town board of health should have among its number a physician, whose duty it should be to pay a monthly visit to every scholar in town, and make a monthly sanitary report to his board, and a yearly report to the town and to the State Board of Health.
Of sanitary matters physicians are confessedly the best judges; their professional interest and enthusiasm would lead them to undertake labors in such a cause, which could not be expected from men of other occupations, while their acquaintance with the amount and nature of disease prevailing in their towns from month to month would both furnish and obtain valuable illustration in connection with their official school inspections. By reporting their observations, there would be secured the record of what would otherwise grow more and more indistinct and fragmentary if trusted to memory and to verbal statement. Upon the local boards of health, and upon the towns, something definite and permanently open to reference, in relation to school hygiene, would be brought to bear. Public attention would be drawn to whatever mistakes and evils of this order might be shown to exist, and when this great point can be gained, the evils will certainly be abated.
Of the value of such reports to the State Board of Health it is unnecessary to speak.' Of course the board of education would be equally benefited. It should be a part of the function of this medical member of the board to assign a time of quarantine, before the expiration of which a child who has suffered from one of certain specified contagious diseases shall not be allowed to attend school. In this way the prevalence of measles, scarlet fever, etc., might be diminished.
REFERENCE.-See “London Lancet," Nov. 22, 1873.
The effect of some of the changes proposed on the 8,448 teachers of our public schools is too serious a matter to be forgotten in this discussion. They would be as great gainers as their pupils by better ventilation, heating, lighting, etc.; by regular physical exercises; by changes which should recognize the lair of periodicity in woman ; by the diminution of all influences which cause friction in the working of schools. No doubt many of them would find their work increased for awhile by the loss of the spur of emulation and vanity in school; but this disadvantage would be temporary, and once things were adjusted to a more wholesome method, they would feel the relief. Whether they would not suffer permanently by the substitution of shorter vacations for the long one in summer, is not clear. There can be no doubt, however, that their work would prove far less wearing if the various reforms proposed were to be brought about.