« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
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 has 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 experi ence 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
this is my idea of exercise-something that will make girls and boys laugh, and laugh very heartily.
Only one word more. In the management of this question, whether in the common school, the graded school, high school, college, or university, as the case may be, the teacher must be a man of large observation, of quick perception, of a ready application, a power to readily and quickly observe what is wanted and to apply it to the case in hand. If you see the child is drooping for want of fresh air, send him out doors; if you see he is drooping for want of exercise, give him play; that will please him; and thus through the whole course. But as young ladies or, rather, girls-that is not what I want to say, either—as girls think they become young ladies, there is a wonderful change in affairs. If I could imagine that a boy and a girl were a twin brother and sis ter, so as to have them equal, presumptively so at least, in their start in the race of life, I think I should observe very little difference between that boy and girl until about the time the girl's mother thinks that running foot-races, and jumping over fences, and climbing apple-trees, and throwing stones at the chickens are not very polite employments for the girl. Up to that time the girl can run as fast as her brother, jump over a fence as quickly, and climb a tree as near to the top branches, and, perhaps, in a good old-fashioned rough-and-tumble wrestle, can throw the boy as often as the boy can throw her. But observe what a drawingin there is, a drawing-in of the size of the feet, a drawing-in of the size of the body, a drawing-in especially of the size of the lungs. All this drawing-in continues until the girl is scarcely recognizable as that beautiful, brave little girl who, a few years ago, could run a race with her brother.
Medical gentlemen, however, are better able to discuss this matter than I am. It is only sufficient to say that no teacher is qualified to teach a girl or young lady who does not well understand the main question affecting her health and of regulating the course of study, exercise, and air in accordance therewith.
I will not detain you longer. I repeat, again, I have listened with intense interest and profit both to the lecture and the discussion. I think the intent of the lecture has given us a broad field hère, a few points of which I have endeavored to mention.
Mr. LUCKEY, of Pittsburg. I move that further consideration be postponed until morning, and in the mean time a committee of three be appointed to express the views of the association upon this subject.
The motion was agreed to; and the president appointed as the committee Mr. Luckey of Pittsburg, Mr. Hopkins of Indiana, and Mr. Marble of Worcester.
Mr. WICKERSHAM. Mr. President, the lecturer of the evening does not belong to this association, and has gone to the trouble of coming all the way from New York here to present to us this very able and inter
esting lecture; and I move that the thanks of this association be tendered to Dr. Bell for the lecture.
The motion was unanimously agreed to.
Mr. WICKERSHAM. Mr. President, there is a notice on the programme of a very important subject-an exceedingly important subject that I suppose we are to have a paper upon from Dr. Ruffner, State-superintendent of public schools of Virginia. I am told that he will probably be here to-morrow. It is a paper that is needed all over the country. I move, therefore, that a committee of seven be appointed, of which Dr. Ruffner shall be chairman, to present resolutions upon the subject of the proper relations of the Federal Government to education.
The motion was agreed to.
Mr. HOPKINS, of Indiana. I move that we adjourn till 9 o'clock tomorrow morning.
The PRESIDENT. I would ask Mr. Hopkins to suspend his motion for a moment, until the committee can be appointed and until the committee on order of business have announced the programme for to-morrow. The Chair will announce, as a select committee of seven, Dr. Ruffner of Virginia, Mr. Wickersham of Pennsylvania, Mr. Jillson of South Carolina, Mr. Philbrick of Boston, Mr. Abernethy of Iowa, Mr. Hopkinsof Indiana, and Mr. Northrop of Connecticut.
General EATON. Mr. President, so far as the committee on order of business have considered the programme and are ready to report, it is that the association meet for miscellaneous business at the hour designated, and at 11 o'clock listen to a paper by Mr. Wickersham, taking up the subject of the Centennial. That the subject under Dr. Ruffner's control be taken up next. No definite hour is mentioned. That at 4 o'clock a paper by Mr. Philbrick be received. That we meet in the evening at 7 o'clock to listen to the paper by Professor Walter Smith, on drawing; and that after that we adjourn to Governor Shepherd's house, at 8 o'clock.
Mr. JILLSON, of South Carolina. Mr. President, I move that a committee of three on general resolutions be appointed by the president. The motion was agreed to.
The PRESIDENT. The Chair will appoint Mr. Jillson of South Carolina, Mr. Marble of Worcester, and Mr. McMillan of Ohio.
On motion of Mr. Hopkins, of Indiana, the convention then adjourned.