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and not with the legislatures of the State, not with the school-boards. You cannot get school-houses constructed properly unless the people understand what a properly-constructed school-house is.
Now, start in the way I have suggested. Let the parents understand the necessity, and they will demand that the school-house shall be constructed in such a way as to allow not only proper light and proper heat, but also that there shall be the proper ventilation.
I merely throw this out for what it may be worth for the gentlemen who are practically connected with the schools of the United States.
This matter of early instruction in practical science-the every-day sciences—is too much neglected in our schools, probably from the fact that many teachers are unfit to do anything of the kind. Others think they cannot teach unless they have text-books. In other words, they cannot teach unless they are asking questions and receiving answers. If that idea could be thrown aside and if the teachers could at once undertake, little by little and day by day, to give some information to their pupils on these all-important subjects, I am satisfied that it would bear its rich fruits, through the parents demanding of the school-authorities the fullest and most satisfactory evidences of their children's education. [Applause.]
Dr. A. N. BELL said:
Mr. PRESIDENT: May I be permitted to say a word in addition to what Doctor Steiner has said? I hope I do it with no want of deference to the information of teachers generally when I state my belief very emphatically that the teachers do not know enough to teach what Doctor Steiner has stated. That is just where the teaching is needed. The school-teachers throughout the country need that kind of instruction. It is not a very long while ago since I met with the principal of a very large school who did not know the difference between radiation and evaporation as applied to heat in his school-room; and, I think, that is just the kind of work, if I understand General Eaton, that should be organized, of instructing teachers; and that the gentlemen, the superintendents who are here to-night, are here to get that sort of information.
A very valuable suggestion thrown out by General Eaton in regard to the causes of insanity I intended to cover to some extent in my brief paper. I believe no one who has ever studied the subject doubts the effects of narcotics, opiates, and stimulants. It is a common acceptation that they are the chief causes of insanity. It does not seem to be understood that carbonic acid is a more quickly fatal narcotic than opium. It takes a very large dose of opium to kill a person in half an hour, but carbonic acid will do it. During the school-age-during the time of growth-the brain is in a state of organization; the structure of the brain is not yet formed. The brain of the child, before ten years, we will say, as compared with that of the adult, is much softer; it contains more water; contains less solid salt; is different in composition. Hence, the effect of narcotics upon the child can easily be perceived. No doctor, who knows how to practice medicine, will give the same proportionate dose of narcotic as of other medicines. The same rule applies as to stimulants of an alcoholic nature. If I want to give the child medicine, I may give it the third or the fourth of a full dose; but if I wish to give the child a sedative, to quiet its nervous system, I cannot give it over onefourth or one-sixth, it may be, of the same preparation. Why? Because its nerves are so susceptible to the influence of the narcotic. Is it any wonder, knowing the effect of narcotics in destroying the mind and producing idiocy, that children who are educated under the influence constantly of small doses and oftentimes of large ones, (and one of the strongest narcotics to which the human being can be subjected is that of carbonic acid,) is it any wonder that insanity should be on the increase or that epilepsy should be tumbling them over in their seats?
Now, I am not aware of any statistics going into the etiology of insanity so far as to attribute it to the effects of carbonic acid on the brain; but I am aware that they do often attribute it to the habit of intemperance. We know that we can inherit a weak mind. But why not classify still more, as among the causes which produce this effect,
that of carbonic-acid gas, which is produced in great quantities in many of our schoolhouses by defective ventilation. It is, of course, true that the paper I read here tonight did not cover a large field on this subject, and I would not add the words I now do but for the fact that I feel that the teachers throughout the whole country need to be taught these very lessons. And scandalous as it may seem to the medical profession, if we count our medical colleges throughout the country to-day, we shall find we have less than half a dozen that embody hygiene in their curriculum; and so with our literary institutions throughout the country. An instance has come to my knowledge in the Columbia Law-School of New York. A gentleman of culture and intelligence had a son there, who, coming home, remarked that it was delightful to get back home again after spending weary days in a college that had no means of getting the bad air out or the fresh air in, except through the doors and windows. This gentleman wrote to the president of that law-college and asked him if he did not think it necessary, in view of the great army he had charge of, to devise some means by which to give the students fresh air. This is the case with public institutions of the highest class all over this country. Let me ask which of our various colleges pretends to pay any attention to these things. They know as well as we do-better, some of them-the influence of these poisons. Does it occur to them really in its great magnitude ? Does it occur to us present here to-night that by every breath we draw we multiply the carbonic-acid gas a hundred fold as it comes out of our lungs and that we are respiring it over and over again? Let us, for instance, watch some one enjoying his cigar along the street, and we can see by the smoke from it how far around floats the carbonic-acid gas that has been exhaled from those lungs; and I do not think we would care to respire that
We should take lessons from these things in order to have some appreciation of how these invisible influences are brought around us.
Mr. WICKERSHAM, of Pennsylvania. I do not rise for the purpose of making a speech at all; but, as a large body of the teachers of the country are not here, I thought it might be well for some one to say a word in their behalf. Something has been said here in reference to their ignorance in regard to the ventilation of school-houses and of physiology, chemistry, and all that. Now, I know they do not know more than they ought to about such things, but the ignorance is not wholly on their side.
Now, I have gone about Pennsylvania with a lantern and tried to find a doctor, or any one, to tell me how to ventilate a school-house.
Now, if you will go into any one of our medical societies or consult the wisest member of the medical profession in any of our cities, you will find that each one has his own particular ideas about ventilating or heating school-houses.
Now, I have looked at this whole matter of ventilation. I think I have read the whole thing from A to Z on the subject, and I cannot find that any body of scientific physicians or scientific gentlemen have come to any positive conclusions in reference to this matter; and are the poor school-masters to be accused of ignorance on this subject when these learned gentlemen, graduates of these learned colleges complimented here, are not fully posted on this matter?
Now, our wise men are assembled at Harrisburg, just now, making laws for the State, as our wise men are assembled here. It has not been
a long while since they became dissatisfied with the air they were breathing in the senate-chamber and house of representatives, and they looked about all over the State to find some one who could tell them how to ventilate them. The committee who had this thing in charge received from the various medical associations all sorts of devices. Some told them they ought to ventilate by having the ventilation from the floor down. Some said that would not do ;. there must be upward ventilation; and some said this way and some that, and the confusion was worse confounded. Finally, they got a gentleman from Boston, I think, [laughter,] who put in a ventilating-apparatus for them. I am not sure that he was from Boston, but he came from the East, anyhow, where we get light, and ventilated all the house and senate. And the other day, just before I left Harrisburg, they swept the whole thing out, and said they had better go back to the air they had before than have such ventilation as that. The members who sat under the ventilators said the cold air all came down, and they did not see that any heat went up. And so the ventilators are closed up.
Now, sir, ignorance of this subject does not lie wholly at the door of the poor school-master; it lies at the door of the scientific man as well. I cannot find anybody in the State of Pennsylvania to tell me why the school-houses should be ventilated this way or that. One says one thing and another says another. What we want is some scientific principle, some positive principle, that can be relied upon and that can be applied in all cases. And the same demand exists with regard to heating.
And then, besides that, Mr. President, are we not attributing more diseases to school-room-influences than really belong to them? May not the home be to blame? Are not parents, fathers and mothers, to blame somewhat for these diseases, as well as the poor teachers? Are children taken care of as they ought to be at home? Are they properly nursed? Do they eat proper food? Are they provided with proper clothes? Do they never keep late hours? Do they never eat at improper times? Is not their training, up to 5, 6, and 7 years of age, very different from what it should be? If they will send from their homes children who are healthy in every respect-strong and healthy at 6 years of age—I am not so sure, sir, taking our school-rooms as they are, that we are going to cause the death of very many of them. I think the trouble lies back of the school-house; it belongs to the parent, to the home, rather than to the school. And while I say this I do not mean to apologize for the ignorance of teachers or for the bad influences, the seeds of disease, that are sown in the school-room; but at the same time I believe, so far as my observation carries me out in this belief, that more is to be attributed to the bad influences of the home, to the instruction they receive before they go to school; and I would like our medical friends to look into that matter. I do not believe that hard study hurts anybody. I do not believe that three hours a day or six
hours a day will hurt a healthy child under proper treatment. But these broken-down children who come into the school-room; these poor dyspeptic little creatures who are badly nursed and housed, and who come into the school-room with disease all through their system, one hour of hard study will injure them.
I should like our medical brethren to look into this matter as well as into the bad influences which are in the school-room. [Applause.]
Mr. BURGESS, of Indiana. Mr. President, it seems the discussion bas mainly centered on the question of ventilation. The general character of the lecture which we are proposing at least to discuss is, I think, one the correctness of which cannot be successfully called in question. But I did not understand the lecturer to limit this question of health to the one thing of ventilation. Exercise was also suggested. Even the amount of time of study and of sitting still at one time-these were mentioned, and these will be found of equal importance, perhaps, with even the question of ventilation. I know of nothing, sir, that has come within my observation-and in the course of twenty-five years of experience I have had some opportunities for observation-I know of no one thing more injurious to a child than to put him into his iron jacket; to place him on a bench, perchance so high that his little feet cannot touch the floor, and punish him if he moves, or turns, or twists-that is the proper word I want to use. This is as bad as ventilation can be, and the lecturer introduced that subject. Give the child plenty of opportunity to move about, to turn and twist, and to get up and go out, and to run and play as well as to learn his A B C's.
The time of study was also mentioned, and this is an important element. Whether a child can be injured by one or by three hours of study in a day will depend largely upon these other questions that are correlative to this.
And then, again, the question of exercise is perhaps as important as any one or all combined. This is true in all stages of study. I doubt if there is a gentleman present to-night, no matter what his training may have been, who can sit down to his books three, five, or eight hours in the twenty-four, every day, without finding himself at length compelled to leave them. What do our summer-vacations mean for public men? What do our days of rest mean? What does the clergyman mean when he tells you that he must have Monday or Saturday for rest-that he must have one day in the week for rest? It means rest, sir, exercise as well.
Recreation has been mentioned-a kind of exercise that is in itself sport; that is, play, (to use the school-boy's word;) that is, fun. This is as important to the child or grown-up student as good air to breathe and good bread to eat, almost.
In the university in which I have the honor to preside, no matter how irregular the classes may be-that is, coming and going to and from their boarding-rooms and recitation-rooms-I have kept up the good old
custom of having at least half an hour's recess every forenoon; and I do not simply give it as a privilege to the students to go out on the campus for half an hour, but I require it. Another element mentioned by the speaker which he prefaced by the word "particularly," namely, the girls; and superintendents will do well to note that part, "particu larly the girls." We are talking about ignorance, gentlemen, in these departments. We are all ignorant as to that matter, and the profoundest of our ignorance relates "particularly" to the girls. There are a very few men in this great country of ours who have yet learned how to educate a girl without ruining her health before she has passed her teens. And I mean to say there are very few mothers who know how to rear their daughters and carry them through their teens safely, and this is certainly as important as good bread.
I do not give it as a privilege to go onto the campus for sports during this half hour, but I require it. I go into the ladies' department, and I see some of the young women sitting with their heads resting on their hands, their faces pale and their eyes sunken. I say, "Get out of here, girls! Get out of this! Get onto the campus." "O, Mr. President, excuse me; I don't feel like playing." They have scarcely breath enough to speak it. "Get out onto the campus. Get onto the campus," I say. (A part of it is fenced off for the ladies, and they can exercise there secure from observation.) And there they have their game of base. ball, their game of foot-ball, or whatever other game they may please to introduce. And this half hour of exercise every day in the open air— will these learned medical gentlemen pardon me the remark-is worth more to those young ladies than all the doctors in the city.
While, now, the learned gentleman has noticed all these items, I have been pleased and benefited by the discussion. But I have thought the discussion turned rather more upon the one question of the ventilation of the school-house than the lecturer intended; and I have, therefore, introduced thus briefly, this other feature, exercise; exercise in the open air; exercise, not such, however, as our fathers used to give us down in good old Yankee homes, in the days of what they call "stint." There may be gentlemen here to-night who remember that word, "stint;" how our good old Yankee fathers used to say, Boys, I am going away, to ⚫ be gone so many days, and I will give you your 'stint;' when you get that done you may play till I get back." Well, the "stint" would be large enough to last you quite as long as he would be gone, to say the least. [Merriment.] That was the kind of exercise that we got. Now, that tires a man. I am tired even now, almost, thinking about it. That kind of exercise does not amuse; that kind of exercise does not please. And, gentlemen, I believe that man is the only animal that can stand on two feet and shake his sides with laughter; and I do not think the great Creator made us with that faculty and power simply to mock us. Therefore let us shake our sides and grow fat with laughter if we can. And