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Dr. Agnew states that Herman Cohn, of Breslau, published in 1867 the results of observations made upon the eyes of 10,060 school children. He established the fact that school life in his country was damaging the eyes of scholars to a most alarming degree. He was followed by Erismann, of St. Petersburg, and others, who showed that elsewhere the same results were being produced. The broad fact was evidently demonstrated that, wherever children were brought under observation, and the effects of the use of their eyes upon minute objects carefully noted, nearsightedness, a grave malady, was found to exist; that this malady was found less frequently, and then generally only in a mild form, in young children; but that it increased rapidly in frequency and gravity as these children were pushed forward in their education from the lowest to the highest schools. Cohn, for example, found that the nearsightedness rate in village schools was less than 2 per cent. ; that it had increased, however, to more than 26 per cent. in the Gymnasium; and that in the Breslau University, out of 410 students examined, not one-third had normal eyes.
Observations were recently made upon 2,884 eyes in this country. The plan followed is essentially tbat of Cohn, so that the results might be compared with those of so industrious and careful an observer. The sources from which the data have been drawn are the district, intermediate, normal, and high schools of Cincinnati, Ohio; the Polytechnic School in Brooklyn, New York; and the College of the City of New York.
The following is the summary of tables accompanying this paper: In the Cincinnati schools, the number of eyes examined was 1,264, in the district schools, 13.27 per cent. of the scholars were nearsighted; in the intermediate schools, 13.8 were nearsighted; and in the normal and high schools, 22.75 were nearsighted. In the academic department of the Brooklyn Polytechnic School, 9.15 were nearsighted, while in the collegiate department of the same school, 21.83 were nearsighted. In the introductory class of the New York College 21.86 per cent. of the students were nearsighted; of the freshmen, 26.2 per cent. were nearsighted; and of the sophomores, 22.72. The summary of all is that, of 2,884 eyes examined, 1,886 eyes had normal refraction, 538 were nearsighted, 227 were oversighted, and 152 astigmatic; and of 81 the refraction was not noted. Acuity of vision : 2,300 eyes had vision equal 1; 226 equal $; 106 equal ; 43 equal
; 49° equal ; ; 40 egual }; 28 equal v; 19 equal to; 8 able only to count fingers; 1 with no perception of light; 4 vision not poted.
From an editorial, “Can the Increase of Insanity and Imbecility be Stopped 9" in the Detroit Review of Medicine of February, 1875, pp. 122, 124.
The following statements are made by Dr. Henry Howard, medical superintendent of the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, Canada, in the Canada Medical Journal, December, 1874: "Insanity results from some abnormal state of a part or the entire organism, body or mind, one or both."
By adducing well known facts the doctor shows that “children are of such different mental and physical organization, that there can be no system of either physical or mental education applicable to all; in fact, that what is good and wholesome to one is death to the other."
“In all schools there is a general system of education, and the principal classification is that of age. It necessarily follows that this system is injurious to the physical and mental growth of the scholars. Hence the great number of youth of both sexes who grow up weak in body and weak in mind, to swell the multitudes of the insane."
After showing that our present system of education is one of the great causes in the increase of insanity, he suggests that there should be less study, less confinement in badly ventilated rooms, and more outdoor education.
“Physicians should have a direct connection with all schools. Who but the educated physician can safely undertake the supervision of large numbers of growing organisms, and so direct their growth as to enable them to reach a healthy mental and physical manhood and womanhood. We speak whereof we know, when we say that scarcely any of the conditions for a normal, healthy education are to be found even in the best of our schools. Those who devised these schools did as well as they knew, doubtless, but they were igporant, totally, of the first principles of body or mind building. The sole remedy is to have our schools remodeled and ever supervised by physicians."
From “Physical Culture, the best means of securing it,” by H. L. Bartlett, M. D. Sanitarian, March, 1875.
Gymnasiums, as at present managed, are far from being all that is required, even for students. The great defect in all the "manly sports," so called, is that they are too violent for delicate persons, and quite inapplicable for females. Besides, they cultivate certain muscles, or groups of muscles, to the neglect of others.
The popular idea that it is injurious to the students of our colleges and universities to join in athletic sports, even of a severe character, is not borne out by facts. On the contrary, experience proves that they who are the most successful ball-players and oarsmen are, as a rule, the best students. It is reasonable to suppose that this should be so, since study is a great tax upon the physical strength and endurance of a man, and he who has the most stamina, other things being equal, will win.
There are other causes, also, which tend in the same direction. A student who is engaged and interested in manly exercise bas less inclination and less time to spend in vicious and indolent babits than he who cares for none of these things. Elevate any men or women physically, and you elevate them intellectually and morally.
* * * So far, therefore, from discouraging manly exercise in students, whether academic or collegiate, the opposite course should be strenuously followed' by all who have their best good at heart. But in the selection of the right kind and anount of exercise for each particular student, great care and judgment are requisite.
Here is where the present system is defective. To put all boys through the same . drill is not only unscientific, but often injurious.
The law of muscular growth demands that, to make a muscle stronger to-morrow, it must be taxed to its utmost to-day. Keeping this law in view, the so-called "light gymnastics,” or “calisthenics,” are almost worthless. Their object seems to be to produce celerity and precision of movement rather than to develop strength. As well might you expect the throw of the weaver's shuttle or the ceaseless ply of the seamstress's needle to produce muscular growth. • Conductors of academies and colleges, finding a popular demand for gymnasiums; at once erect a structure or appropriate a room snitably furnished with all the appliances for the same, and inaugurate gymnastic exercises, without knowing the first principles of the science of physical culture, or the rules by which they should be governed in order to prove beneficial to those who are evgaged in them. In fact, I am inclined to the opinion that these institutions, as at present managed, do as much harm as they do good. They are frequently conducted in poorly ventilated rooms, continced to the point of exbanstion, at least on the part of the feebler members of the class, and at a period of the day when the bodily powers bave been already overtaxed by prolonged mental exertions.
From “ College Sports,” by Nathan Allen, M.D., LL.D. Sanitarian, September, 1875, pp. 244-247.
It is now almost twenty years since the trustees of Amherst College, finding students breaking down with ill-health, and bere and there one dying prematurely, cast around to see what could be done to prevent such a state of things. After much consideration it was decided to establish a distinct department of hygiene and physical culture, and place at the head of it a thoroughly educated physician, who should give lectures on these subjects, and take charge of all exercises connected with the gymnasium, as well as of the hygiene of the institution. The trustees decided to incorporate these exercises into the regular curriculum of college duties and make it obligatory upon all students to attend upon them as much as on instruction in the mathematics or classics.
It was said that nearly all gymnasiums connected with literary institutions, both in Europe and America, had failed to accomplish the results intended or expected, for the obvious reason that these exercises were generally voluntary, and the character given them did not correspond to their importance nor to the rank which was accorded to mental acquisitions. Instead of leaving the thing to take care of itself, for students to exercise or not, at their option or convenience, withont any system or instruction, the trustees here determined to place the enterprise in the position which its importance and success demanded.
Since this department was fairly established fifteen classes have graduated from the college and more than three thousand students have taken part in these exercises. The experiment has now been continued long enough to show some results. Among the changes most obvious the following must be credited to this department rather than to any other source. Very few in the college course break down in health now compared to those who once did; there has been much less sickness and mortality in college than formerly; the average health of each class is found to improve from year to year; so that when its members come to graduate we find them possessing vigorous health, strong muscles, and a large amount of vitality laid up in store to meet the battles of life. These exercises, it is admitted, afford most essential aid in a variety of ways in enforcing the discipline of the college and also in raising higher the standard of scholarship.
Gymnastics in many respects have great advantagos over any other kind of physical exercise. They can be carried on daily and systematically by all, with little loss of time or risk of injury of person or to good morals. They can be directed and controlled wholly by the laws of an institution and supervised by officers of the same. While they are calculated to improve the general health by producing a well balanced organization, they aim to bring all the physical forces of the system into the most favorable condition for study and mental improvement.
When gymnastics were first started here (Amberst) the objection came up that the officers of an institution bad no right to make laws that would compel students to go through with such exercises; or, in other words, whose main object was to direct tho
movements of the body. * * Such officers and teachers, however, have no hesitation in making rules that require of students regular attendance on set exercises, fixed hours of study and recitations, and also an exact amount of knowledge in the text books used. These rules are enforced, are made imperative; but to comply with them certain laws of the brain must be brought into play. Now if, in order to apply in the most efficient manner these very laws of the brain, it is found necessary to exercise systematically the muscles or tissues of the body, what should make the difference?
If it is found that all mental training and acquisition depend upon the brain, why should not physical training come into the account?
We venture this prediction, that in no department of education will there be greater improvement for the next fifty years than in a more perfect development of the human system and harmony of function between the laws that govern both mind and body. To accomplish this, gymnastics or some other physical exercises must be made of far greater account than they have hitherto been.
From the “Gymnastics for Schools,” by S. S. Putnam, M. D. Sanitarian, August, 1875.
One way in which school children may be greatly benefited is by helping them perfect the process of respiration. This was demonstrated by the work done by Professor Monroe with the children of the Boston schools. Good breathing is by no means common, and the singing teacher has always much to accomplish in this respect. Instruction in this regard may not only give vastly increased power to healthy persons, but it may save many who are affected by lung disorders from early deaths.
Herr Raag, of Berlin, says that he has found gymnastics very useful in preventing spival curvatures.
For proper school gymnastics it is only requisite that there should be space enough about the desks to enable the pupil to advance one step and to swing the arms freely. A large hall, with a few desirable pieces of apparatus, is all that is needed for further gymnastic exercise.
In Europe balls are now considered absolutely necessary for the use of scholars in the public schools.
CAUSE AND PREVENTION OF TYPHOID FEVER IN SCHOOLS. Prof. John L. Le Conte, M. D., of Philadelphia, late medical inspector United States Army, makes the following communication to the Philadelphia Medical Times of May 29, 1875:
In the beginning of January, 1875, I was requested to inspect St. Mary's Hall, Burlington, N. J., (a justly renowned school for the education of young ladies,) in order to ascertain the cause of an outbreak of typhoid disease which had occurred some weeks before.
The cause, as is usual in such cases, was easily discovered, and the means for its removal and for the prevention of its recurrence readily determined. The suggestions which I made have been fully carried ont by the trustees, and I in consequence gave a certificate stating that the necessary sanitary improvements had been made, and that there was no dauger of a recurrence of typhoid disease.
These facts baving come to the knowledge of several friends who are interested in sanitary science, I have been requested by them to prepare a short account of the causes which led to the development of the disease, and the results of the measures adopted for its suppression. By the kind permission of the board of trustees of the school I am now authorized to do this, and I hope that the lesson will not be lost upon other institutions which are liable to similar misfortunes.
At the time that the hall was built, the water supply was obtained from two cisterns, constructed of heavy wooden curbs, lined with brick and coated with cement. They were floored with timber, and descended below the level of subterranean drainage by which spring water would enter. In order to place the floor properly, a hole was cnt in each to prevent the pressure of the spring water. After the timber floor was tired permanently, these holes were plugged, the plugs risiug above the wasonry bottom of the cistern. The water supply was thus made to depend entirely upon the river; and bad these arrangements continued without change, I am confident that no typhoid disease would have occurred.
A year later, without the knowledge of the authorities of the school, the plugs at tho bottom of the cisterns were removed. This was a capital error, but would, perbaps, havo been insignificant in its results had it not been supplemented by a second, the pernicious effects of which recently manifested themselves. A year or eighteen months afterward, (1871,) privy vaults were dug outside of the building for the reception of the excreta, which up to that time were received in boxes and removed every few days.
One of these privy vaults was most inconsiderately placed about 8 or 12 feet from the water cisterns, which, as is mentioned above, had been opened to the influence of subterranean drainage. This privy vault seems to have been constructed with all the care usually exercised in the building of such receptacles; bottom and sides 9-inch brick, laid in cement, heavily and carefully covered with cement, and arched over The result was naturally what any student of sanitary science would have predicted. After a certain lapse of time, (in this instance three years,) the soil around the privy vault became poisoned with the effluvia and infiltrations, and the water supply in the cisterns thus became contaminated.
Having thus described the cause of the disease, the remedy was of course evident, and of easy application. I was glad to find that it had been already recommended by the physicians of the establishment, Drs. Pugh and Ganatt, who, with admirable judgment, had, on the 18th of December, 1874, advised the disuse of the cisterns. It is a significant fact, as showing the correctness of my view, that the contiguity of the privy vault to the cisterns was the sole cause of the disease; that ten days after the water had been, by the advice of the physicians, drawn directly from the river, the last case of typhoid fever occurred, and since that time (28th of December) the school has been quite free from all similar disease.
One or two interesting facts were developed during my examination which are worthy of mention. Although numerous cases of typhoid occurred among the girls, and a smaller proportion among the teachers, not a single one of the servants was affected. On inquiring of the latter whether they drank water, the reply was that they used only tea and coffee and almost never drank between meals. The girls, on the contrary, like all children, are frequently thirsty, and drink often at intermediate hours of the day. The water consumed by the servants was, therefore, boiled, by which process the molecular activity of the putrescent matter was checked and its power as a zymos was destroyed. No more admirable instance of the efficiency of this simple remedy for the purification of contaminated water can be found.
I asked the Rev. E. K. Smith, D. D., the principal of the school, what had been the fate of those pupils who did not use tea, coffee, or milk, but drank water exclusively. He told me that, after careful inquiry at the different tables in the refectory, he ascertained that of seven absolute water drinkers, six had been attacked with typhoid.
In conclusion, I would invite the attention of my colleagues in the medical profession, and the governing authorities of schools, both public and private, to the ease with which ali similar outbreaks of disease may be prevented, or, as in the present instance, speedily removed, by seeking scientific advice.
The following recommendations, if adopted, would in most cases prove effective:
1. Before the plans of the buildings are fully matured, let an expert in sanitary studies be employed to give directions to the architect in ail that relates to ventilation, drainage, and water supply.
2. After the building is completed, no alterations should be made affecting these three essentials of good hygienic condition, without the suggestion of a practiced sanitarian.
3. There should be stated inspections, say twice a year, of each institution by some sanitarian of acknowledged merit, who, after close examination and the correction of any defect, would give a certificate to be published in the circular or announcement of the school.
4. On the outbreak of any zymotic disease in the institution, the advice of a sanitarian expert should at once be obtained, in order that means may be taken for its restriction, suppression, and prevention.
I may be permitted to add, that at the last visit I made to St. Mary's Hall I found the sanitary condition perfect; and I cannot too highly commend the liberal manner in which the trustees have carried out the suggestions contained in my report, thus insuring, in any opinion, the health of the scholars confided to their care.
The Scotsman of Edinburgh, August 5,1875, states that at the late meeting of the British Medical Association, at Edinburgh, Dr. A. Stewart “narrated the case of a friend of his who went to inspect a boarding school previous to sending his two daughters there. Everything he liked well but the drain, which passed within three feet and a half of the well. When he spoke of this he was informed that the water of the well had been drunk for years, and that no disease had ever occurred. To satisfy himself he twice had samples of the water taken and analyzed, and it was found to be perfectly pure. He sent his daughters to the school, but in two or three weeks typhoid fever broke out, and of four deaths which occurred one was that of his youngest daughter. The water of the well was then found to be putrid from the sewage which had found its way into it."
UNPUBLISHED INFORMATION. The following are some of the subjects upon which special reports have been made during the year, but not published for general distribution:
(1) A statement of the provision (or rather lack of provision) made in different portions of the Union for the practical education of workingwomen.
(2) An exhibition of the appropriations and expenditures for education in the Southern States for 1873.
(3) A reply to questions respecting educational journals in eight Southern States, with the number of days that schools were kept in these, the number of teachers employed, the average price paid them, and the amount of State school funds.
(4) An account of the extent to which manual labor of students is rade obligatory in the agricultural colleges.
(5) A sketch of the provision made for colored schools and institutions open to the colored people in the United States.
(6) One respecting schools for scientific study to which teachers may resort for improvement during the summer months.
(7) One respecting the relative amounts of State and local taxation for the public schools.
(8) Legal provisions respecting moral instruction in schools. (9) Legal provisions respecting the colored race in schools.
The following view of the instruction given in medical jurisprudence in the United States has been compiled from answers received by the Bureau of Education in reply to inquiries sent out: