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OUR CHILDREN'S BODIES.
Weighty million dollarga Orhesschodi will not that Lo plawatch them tenhon:
plant of the country is valued at near- and see. Is there anything especially inly two hundred million. Attendance at vigorating in snapping a marble or spinschool of all children between certain ages ning a top? Is there anything in most of is compulsory in many of the States. Li- their games which calls for any strength braries private, circulating, and public; or endurance, or which a weak boy can books by the million, the standard works not do almost if not quite as well as a of other lands reprinted here, and sold strong one? You will be astonished, too, for a few cents a copy; periodicals by the to see how much of the hour is devoted to hundred thousand; a billion five hundred standing or sitting about, and how little million newspapers each year, with al- to real, downright work of the sort that most hourly word from every civilized tells, and especially how idle the left arm corner of the globe-all add their quota is in almost every known pastime. to aid the vast army of faithful teachers Well, there's the gymnasium. Does who are giving their best years and efforts not that fill the bill ?
What is a gymnato the great work of national (mental) ed- sium? A large room with bars, vaulting ucation.
horses, dumb-bells, ladders, clubs, ropes, And what are we doing for our bodies ? and other appliances to be used in bodily Who educates them, builds houses, spends exercise. Fit up now a school - room money, trains teachers, gives time and with desks, blackboards, books, maps, and thought and labor to equip every boy and the other things which experience has girl, or every man and woman either, found useful there. Send the boys, and with a vigorous and efficient body, one tell them to educate themselves. But which will serve its purposes well when where's the teacher ? Teacher! what do the wear and strain of the real work of they want of a teacher? The youngest life comes ?
boy in that school-room knows in a moWhy, we leave that branch to the boys ment that there will not be much progand girls themselves. And they make just ress made without the trained head. And about as good headway at it as they would just about as much will be made in a headwith their mental or moral education if less gymnasium--a sort still far too comthese also were left wholly to their own mon in our land. Instead of any steady, management.
well-directed work, there will be mere des“Well," says the father, “but I spent ultory play, generally accompanied by an my youth on a farm, was up early to milk, endeavor on the first day to do from one mowed all morning, raked and pitched to a dozen feats which they have seen trainand made hay all the afternoon, and ed gymnasts do, and which should have housed load after load up in the hot barn been preceded by at least several months of toward night, until the water ran off me judicious preparation. Of course the natin streams; hoed corn and potatoes, dug ural result of these rash, unguided efforts ditches, built stone fence, swung axe and will be lame muscles, and the boy need spade and bar, and tugged and lifted and not be much surprised if he manages to carried, and did the thousand other things inflict some injury on himself which will every active, live farmer so well knows. not heal, perhaps, in weeks or months. Was not that enough ?” It was, indeed, a Were he sick, you would hardly let him grand experience, and it laid up for you a go into a drug-store and, unaided, choose stock of sturdy health and vigor on which his own medicine. But this is practically you may draw almost with impunity down the way you let him build up his strength all your after-life.
in a gymnasium. But has your city-raised son any such Well, look at the greatly increased insplendid out-door training? Can he cut a terest in athletics. Surely this must have swath at all, or even swing a scythe with told most beneficially on our boys and girls. out endangering his legs, and any others But these athletics are not for boys and near by? Have you never wondered why girls at all. They are rather for young he is so indifferently built, when you at men, and the percentage even of young his age were so tough and strong and men who take part in them is not only sinewy?
very small, but includes many of those who need them the least. If, then, most city ning is a lost art. Yet it is doubtful if boys and girls take practically no part in an exercise was ever devised which does athletics, do not attend the gymnasium, more to beget grace and ease of moveand in their play get no sensible physical ment. There are probably not ten girls education at all, where do they get it? At in any class of fifty in one of our pubsome manual labor? Not one in fifty of lic schools who could run a mile, even if our school boys and girls does a day's they got a dollar a foot for it. Or twenty manual labor in the whole year round; boys out of any fifty either. Yet Rowell indeed, the majority of them never did one used to take a twenty-mile run occasion. in their lives. They grow, but they do ally without a halt, and that just to vary not develop
the monotony of walking not thirty miles But we do not want our boys prize in a day, or forty, but one hundred and fighters, go-as-you-please runners, demon fifty! Most girls have weak arms. bowlers, Græco-Roman wrestlers, cham- they doubt it, let them try with one hand pion oarsmen, wasting their time, and de- to push up once high over their head a voting all their thoughts to some feat of dumb-bell weighing a quarter or even a athletic prowess! But does every one fifth of their own weight. Or with both who builds up his body by sensible daily hands catching hold of a bar or the rung exercise run off to these extremes? To of a ladder, as high up as they can reach, which of these classes does President Eliot let them see if they can pull slowly up till of Harvard or Professor Agassiz belong, their chin touches the hands even once. or Dr. McCosh or Mr. Gladstone? Yet Yet a moderately strong man at dumbthe former two did excellent work in their bells will push up one weighing over half university boat. Princeton's famous pres- his own weight, and some men have manident, if our information is correct, rowed aged to put up more than their own in the Dublin university crew, and the weight; and as to pulling up, a girl with British prime minister can now at seven- developed arms can do it five or six times ty-three probably cut down more trees in with comparative ease, and a boy with a day than any merchant, banker, or pro- thoroughly good arms two or three times fessional man of his age in the city of New as many. Both the fore-arms and the upYork, yet finds time to grapple with the per arms of most girls are not as large by most intricate and difficult problems of a an inch as those of well-built girls of their territory twice as vast as the whole United height and age are. Yet in any wellStates besides. Gluttony is hurtful, but regulated gymnasium we will find youth rational eating is beneficial, indeed neces- adding in one year an inch, and even two sary. Overexercise is hurtful, but ration- inches, to the girth of each upper arm, and al exercise is beneficial, and even necessary half as much to that of each fore-arm, to real health.
while a gain of from three to five inches The results of this utter neglect of any about the chest is nothing rare, and all sound system of physical education stand this simply by less than an hour's daily out in almost every city home in Ameri- work, yet which, besides expanding the ca. Not one boy in five is well built, or, lungs, called the various muscles of the unless he is fat, measures within an inch, arms, shoulders, chest, and of the greater often three inches, as much about the part of the body into vigorous play. Prochest or thigh or upper arm, or weighs fessor Farrow, at West Point, Professor within ten pounds as much, as a well- Andrews, of the Gymnasium of the Young proportioned, vigorous, properly developed Men's Christian Association at Brooklyn, boy of his age should do. Scarcely one Dr. Sargent, of the Hemenway Gymnagirl in three ventures to wear a jersey, sium at Harvard University, and Archimainly because she knows too well that bald Maclaren, of the Gymnasium at Oxthis tell-tale jacket only becomes a good ford University in England, all find no figure. Yet the difference in girth be difficulty in adding in one year from an tween the developed arm which graces a inch to an inch and a half to the fore and jersey and the undeveloped one which upper arms, and three inches to the girth does not, in a girl of the same height and of chest, of pupils under their charge. age, is seldom more than two inches, and Would not that tell in a jersey? And often even than one, while the well-set while these results are accomplished by chest outgirths the indifferent one by sel- work nearly all muscular, instances are dom over three inches. Among girls, run- I becoming frequent of persons enlarging their chests even more rapidly, and not by faced children, with scarcely any promexercise of the muscles of the arms and ise of manhood about them." shoulders, but simply by daily deep, slow Does it not look as if there was room breathing. Combine now the two causes here for some rational system of bodily of gain, especially under the care of a ju- education, and as if at once would be the dicious teacher, and the effect, particularly best time to begin? on a small-lunged, weak-chested, or indif- The faithful mother will stay up night ferently-built person, who has always in- after night, if need be, at the bedside of clined to be delicate, must be highly grati- a sick child, will attend his every want fying, while the new strength and vigor with the most solicitous care, will do all which accompany this marked gain in that devotion and self-denial and her size can not fail to be of great value. most earnest prayers will do to help bring
Would not some physical education him back to health and a longer lease of which included exercise like this prove life. But after he has once regained his an inestimable benefit to almost every health does she actually do one solitary child in our city schools, and to at least a thing to keep it for him, and make him large minority of those in the country as reasonably assured of its continuance well? With strength comes the ability throughout a natural life? to endure, and so closely allied to these is And if in the physical education of our the priceless boon of health that Maclaren boys we are disgracefully backward, are defines health to be “the power to work we any the less so with our girls? One long, to work well, to work successfully of Philadelphia's leading physicians--the hereafter.” And who is the more likely eminent authority on neural disorders, to have this power, he who from disuse of Dr. S. Weir Mitchell-says: his muscles lets his body get into a lax “To-day the American woman is, to condition, so that he can scarcely endure speak plainly, physically unfit for her at all, or he who first builds his body up duties as woman, and is perhaps of all to vigor and efficiency, and then, like civilized females the least qualified to unGladstone, or Bryant, or Bancroft, by dertake those weightier tasks which tax so abundant daily vigorous exercise, keeps it, heavily the nervous system of man. She as the good engineer does his engine, in is not fairly up to what nature asks from thorough working order?
her as wife and mother. ... If the moThe lack of physical development, and of thers of a people are sickly and weak, the vigor which usually attends it, is more the sad inheritance falls upon their offgeneral among city girls and boys than spring, and this is why I must deal first, many persons imagine. In the city of however briefly, with the health of our New York, for instance, the Board of Edu- girls, because it is here, as the doctor well cation in a recent annual report showed knows, that the trouble begins. that the whole number of scholars taught physician of your acquaintance to sum up in the public schools of that city, deduct. thoughtfully the young girls he knows, ing those in the normal, nautical, and cor- and to tell you how many in each score porate schools, was 240,162, but the aver- are fit to be healthy wives and mothers, age attendance was only 119,288, or some- or, in fact, to be wives and mothers at all. what less than half. Thus, a well-known I have been asked this question myself city teacher says, our school-children very often, and I have heard it asked of lose half their school-time by absence, and others. The answers I am not going to three-quarters of this from sickness.” give, because I should not be believed-a The New York Herald, speaking editori- disagreeable position, in which I shall not ally in an article headed, “Give the Boy deliberately place myself. Perhaps I a Chance," after saying that the wits of ought to add that the replies I have heard the millions of boys in our cities are being given by others were appalling." forced to their utmost capacity, whether Detailing some of the symptoms of this they are taught in the school, the shop, or deficient physique, he adds: the street, asks, “ But what is being done “Now I ask you to note carefully the for their bodies? The answer may be ob- expression and figures of the young girls tained by standing at the door of almost whom you may chance to meet in your any public or private school or academy at walks, or whom you may observe at a conthe hour of dismissal. The inquirer will cert or in a ball-room. You will see see a crowd of undersized, listless, thin- | many very charming faces, the like of
which the world can not match-figures be so among our children as well, might somewhat too spare of flesh, and, especial- it not be wise to pay some direct and efly south of Rhode Island, a marvellous fective attention to even yet freeing them littleness of hand and foot. But look fur- from much needless pain and discomfort, ther, and especially among New England and to securing to them, if possible, that young girls: you will be struck with a health which Emerson says is the first certain hardness of line in form and fea- wealth, and without which our power of ture, which should not be seen between enjoying all else is seriously crippled, if thirteen and eighteen at least. And if not entirely gone? you have an eye which rejoices in the But is there not already some remedy tints of health, you will miss them on a provided for an evil at once so wide-spread multitude of the cheeks which we are now and so serious ? Here and there trifling so daringly criticising. I do not want to calisthenics are practiced, but often of so do more than is needed of this ungracious light a kind as to be, to one who knows talk; suffice it to say that multitudes of how to build up anything worth calling our young girls are merely pretty to look vigor, positively ludicrous, and almost alat, or not that; that their destiny is the ways accompanied by utter ignorance on shawl and the sofa, neuralgia, weak the pupil's part, and often on the teachbacks, and the varied forms of hysteria, er's as well, as to their effect on the child that domestic demon which has produced practicing them, or as to what muscles untold discomfort in many a household, are by them brought into play. These do and, I am almost ready to say, as much a little good, but it is at least a question if unhappiness as the husband's dram.” they do not do more harm than good, be
Is neuralgia common in our country or cause they stand in the way of exercise not? Is there any reader who does not of a sort adequate to work the pupil any know at least one sufferer from it? And, substantial or lasting benefit, and cut off again, would any sensible girl like to mar- the very time in which he or she might ry a man nearly certain to be, during most otherwise be at exercise of this latter sort. of their married life, an invalid, and very In New York city they have gone so likely an irritable invalid at that ? And far as to insert in a recent manual of the if not, can a man be blamed for taking a Board of Education the following resolusimilar view, when he comes to make what tion: he hopes will be his only choice? Dr. “PHYSICAL TRAINING. The pupil Nathan Allen, of Rhode Island, speaking should be exercised daily in such a man. of the strictly native New-Englanders, ner as to expand the lungs, develop the says:
muscles, and impart an easy and graceful *The women have deteriorated physic- carriage to the body." ally in a surprising degree. A majority Yet in two other places in the same of them have a predominance of nerve tis- manual one may read that every minute sue, with weak muscles and digestive or- of the twenty-nine hours of school-time
per week is strictly devoted to other studThe New York Sun, in commenting on ies in the most peremptory manner! this statement of Dr. Allen, says further But besides not educating the boy's or of the New-Englanders who have remain- girl's body side by side with the mind, ed at home:
or even stopping to consider whether “Their families are small. They are throughout the year they progress physicnot physically as vigorous as their fathers. ally at all or not, in every city, town,
The women are not symmetrically devel- and hamlet of our land we provide maoped, and their nervous organization is chinery and require them to use it, which, apt to be morbid."
kept within reasonable bounds, has prored If, then, by the testimony of witnesses one of the great sources of national progwell qualified to judge, and with excep-ress, to which we point with just pride, tional facilities for observing, it is found but which, like almost everything else that so many of our girls lack physical that is good, may yet be so injudiciously vigor and symmetry that the number is used as to work positive harm, and that is simply "appalling," if the nervous and the school system. With many of our other disorders which indicate a deterio- cities doubling in population every generrated condition are, as all are aware, so ation or oftener, with parks and playcommon to-day, and seriously threaten to grounds narrowing almost annually, and
many of these so well kept that the chil-pil, is afflicted with St. Vitus's dance, the dren are not allowed to use the greater direct result of overstudy. The present part of them at all, with school yards so course of study is so elaborate that nodiminutive that half the pupils in some of thing more than a superficial knowledge the schools could not even stand up to can be gained by the pupils." gether in their own school yards, much less Here, then, a course of study which not do any playing, in an immense number of only crowds out even one minute a day our schools we put the boy where from five of attention to the body, which compels to eight hours of each day are given up to many pupils to keep their minds on the close, exacting study, often in rooms in stretch, not four or five hours daily, but which the air much of the time is a second- often more than twice that long, and this hand article, and hence unfit to breathe. when they are under no care or instrucIs it difficult to see why, under such treat- tion out of school which begins to fit their ment, many of the boys are anything but bodies for even their present way of livhale and robust?
ing, much less for effective work in the Maclaren, speaking of an English future years, when others besides themschool-boy of whom he knew, says that selves must depend on them for support his mother boasted that he studied seven —this plan is found by one of the comhours a day regularly, sometimes eight, missioners himself, after careful examiand then he wonders whether that boy's nation, to be “so elaborate that nothing headaches were real or sham. But if this more than a superficial knowledge can be surprises him, what would he think of gained by the pupils.” such cases as the following, which are Is not this paying a pretty good price only one or two out of scores sent to the for a pretty poor article? If all that this New York press some months since, when injudicious, and in many cases dangerous, the matter of school overwork was under method of education brings to the pupil discussion. One parent wrote:
is but "superficial knowledge” after all, “My daughter, aged fourteen, attends would it not be well to stop such a plan Grammar School No. 72, one of the best at once, and substitute one which will acin the city, and conscientiously strives to quaint the pupil thoroughly, not superfiobtain a good report. She reaches home cially, with whatever he attempts to know, at half past three, spends one hour at the and will at the same time educate his body piano, and then studies until half past six. as well? After supper she studies again until nine, Look into the life of Lincoln or Garfield, and then retires, to rise again at six to and of many another man great in our study away until breakfast-time, after country's history, and we find that all the which she starts for school."
book-education they had while boys would Another parent wrote that his daughter not make one-third part of what is imposed of fourteen, going through the regular on the school-boy of to-day. Yet is it cercourse, and wishing to keep up with her tain that the plan now adopted with the classmates, "has come direct from school, boy's education — an education, by-theand sat in her room studying usually way, which he can only have once, be it on about five hours." If Mr. Maclaren a wise plan or a foolish one-will bring him thinks eight hours of study or even sev- out fitter for successful, perhaps even great, en a day ought to give a child a head-life work than were those same seemingache, what will he say to the ten or twelve ly less-favored men, or even as fit? One of each of these girls? Is it strange that thing they did make sure of, whether from the father of the second one added : chance or necessity, extremely tough, vig
“The result has been that I was obligedorous, enduring bodies, strong and sure to take her from school, and put her un- foundations for the wear and strain, the der the care of a physician, who is yet privation and suffering, most of us are sure treating her for no less a disease than St. to know. Lincoln's youth was dotted Vitus's dance. Physicians and all who with feats of athletic prowess.
He was see her agree that her brain has been over- one of the greatest wrestlers in Illinois. worked."
Colonel Lamon, his former law partner, School Commissioner Frederick W. De says that three men were trying one day voe, on investigating these and other cases, to move a hen-coop weighing about six said: “I was speaking to a school trustee hundred pounds, and could not budge it, to-day whose daughter, a public school pu- when Lincoln, coming along, and getting