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ABSTRACTS OF ADDRESSES.
PHYSICAL EQUIPMENT FOR A LIFE
CHARLES H. KEYES, SUPERVISOR, SOUTH DISTRICT PUB
LIC SCHOOLS, HARTFORD, CONN. The American home has delegated to the State the education of America's children. The State has accepted responsibility for the care and culture child and the home has a right to demand that the work of the schools shall bear fruit in open minds, warm hearts, and vigorous bodies.
For the intellectual and moral culture of children committed to their charge, teachers generally hold themselves to a strict accountability. The selection of teachers and the arrangement of courses and means of instruction, by our school boards and supervising officers, keep quite constantly in mind these two aims of education. It may be fairly urged that a high degree of success has crowned our endeavors to attain these two results. But in the culture of bodies, in the protection and increase of health and vigor, we have been and still are sadly lacking. True, we have in many of our city systems, teaching of gymnastics, and what we are pleased to style work in physical culture; but nine-tenths of it is haphazard, unsystematic and unscientific. In most instances, it does not even make a pretense of discovering the physical and nervous condition of the child, and then addressing itself to
the condition disclosed. It is ordinarily a combination of spectacular circus drill and patent calisthenic medicine administered by brigades.
Both the neglect and the malpractice so generally observable are evidently due to a lack of clear appreciation of the responsibility and the opportunity of the school, in this most important field of endeavor. It is the purpose of this address to set forth briefly what seems to the speaker to be clearly the fair responsibility of the common school for the care and culture of the bodies of the children.
The home has a right to demand that every year spent in the common school shall bring to the child bodily vigor and physical control. Let us note the most important specifications. Intelligent co-operation of home and school should bring the child to the close of each successive year of his elementary school life with ten different increments to his equipment for a life of efficient service.
He should weigh more. 2. He should be taller. 3. He should have increased lung capacity. 4.
He should see better. 5. He should hear better. 6. He should have stronger and more flexible
voice. 7. The sense of touch and resistance should be more
accurate and intelligent. 8. He should be stronger and more dextrous in
hands and arms. 9. He should be able to walk farther and better. 10. He should be on the whole more resistant to dis
First. A definite contribution to all ten of these important equipments results from constant attention in both precept and general regimen of the school to four important articles of the Gospel of Health.
(a) Cleanliness must be forever exhorted, commanded and exemplified. The teaching should be specific and the insistance on personal cleanliness constant.
But the important provisions for the triumph of this article are to be found in the school plant and its administration and in the example of a health loving teacher.
We need well washed, perfectly swept, carefully dusted, well ventilated school rooms, halls, passage ways and toilets, never overheated, and on which neither work nor water are ever spared. Generous provision must also be made for personal ablutions which do not involve the use of the community towel and for pure drinking water without the use of that foulest of abominations, the school drinking cup. We have now numerous effective devices making the cup unnecessary. The teacher in person should always exemplify this supreme condition of health-perfect cleanliness, and be one who truly knows the joy of living
(6) Open air exercise is the second article of this great gospel which is too often preached and then systematically prohibited by the school. It is useless to wax eloquent about the value of open air exercise and then keep pupils in at recess or after school of demand of them a burden of home study that makes its indulgence impossible.
Every pupil should have all of every recess and be
as promptly dismissed at the close of every session as he is requested to be prompt at its beginning. Home study is important not only in the high but in the elementary school,—but it should never be permitted to prevent the child having at least two and one-half hours of every afternoon in the sunshine and the breeze.
(c) Generous sleep is the third article of a gospel against whose keeping home, school, and church even are constantly tempting. Never less than eleven hours of sleep for the child in the primary school, ten hours for the child in the grammar school, and nine to ten for the high school pupil should be the rule. In this connection again, the home study limits ought to be strictly insisted upon.
No rationally managed school requires any home study of its pupils in the first five grades. On the other hand nothing but mawkish sentimentality would tolerate or support upper grammar grades or high schools which did not require such work. But it must be kept within sane limits. The following limits should not be passed by any but children of extraordinary vigor.
Grammar School-Sixth Grade-30 minutes daily.
Grammar School—Seventh Grade-60 minutes daily.
Grammar School-Eighth and Ninth Grades—90 minutes daily.
High School-First and Second Years—150 minutes daily
High School—Third and Fourth Years—180 minutes daily.
(d) Simple and healthful food is the fourth article of this Gospel of Health. It needs to be taught in the
schools and in and to the homes. More children suffer in health and school activity from over eating or unwise eating than from insufficient food. Where the home arrangement permit, the chief meal of the day should be taken when an hour of almost perfect rest can follow it. No lunch taking should ever be permitted on the part of pupils living within three quarters of a mile of the school building.
The fine art of eating and care of the teeth are important subjects of instruction. In this connection children need be taught the danger of narcotics and stimulants. (a) Total abstinence the only safety of growing
boys and girls. (b) Why athletes avoid alcohol and tobacco. (c) Why growing children must avoid them. (d) Why intellectual excellence, athletic skill, and
best bodily growth are inconsistent if not impossible with the habitual use of alcohol or tobacco during the twenty or twenty-four
years that the body is attaining its full stature. This instruction should be clear cut and scientific no quibbling and no preaching. 'Tis not the teacher's mission to reform the adult world but to inform, preserve and protect the boys and girls in school. Be energetic and whole hearted in this and leave the other reform to the churches and temperance societies. They are efficient and willing to carry their burden if the school will but care for the children.
Turning now to the specific equipments named at the outset, I observe that the first three are not only equipments for the efficient life but they are almost certain indexes of health. Unless increase in weight,