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Size, Sc., of School Rooms.
his own ague fits. They must parch or congeal, as he shivers or glows.
It should be remembered, also, that even the thermometer ceases to be a guide, except in pure air. When pure air enters the lungs it evolves heat. Its oxygen carries on the process, (supposed to be combustion,) necessary for that purpose. This keeps our bodies warm. It is the reason why the blood remains regularly at a temperature of ninetyeight degrees, though the air by which we are surrounded, rises to that heat but a few times in a year. The air constantly supplies to the body, through the medium of the lungs, the heat which is constantly abstracting by contact with its surface.
* But it is only through the agency of the oxygen or life-sustaining portion of the air, that this heat is supplied. A thermometer, however, is insensible to this difference. It will indicate the same degree of heat in azote, i. e., in that portion of the air which will not sustain life, as in oxygen; although a man immersed in azote at 70 or 80 degrees would die of cold, if he did not of suffocation. I reiterate the first position, therefore, that even a thermometer ceases to be a guide, except in pure air.
"Ordinarily,we can undergo a change of a few degrees in temperature, without danger, or serious inconvenience; but there is a limit, beyond which the change becomes perilous and even fatal. Suppose in a school, having a winter term of only four months, and consisting of but fifty scholars, one quarter of an hour in a day, on an average, is lost for all purposes of study, in consequence of the too great heat or cold of the room; the aggregate loss, allowing six hours to a day, will be two hundred days, or more than eight months. And yet, in many of our schools, half the day, for all purposes of improvement, is, by this cause alone, substantially lost.
Every keeper of a green-house regulates its heat by a thermometer. The northern blasts which come down upon the blossoms of a farmer's orchard or garden, chill him as much as them. When shall we apply the same measure of wisdom to the welfare of children, as to that of fruits and vegetables! I am told by physicians, that from 65 to 70 degrees, is a proper temperature for a room. Something, however, must depend upon the habits of the children. In cities, there is generally less exposure to cold, than in the country ; and factory children would suffer from cold, when those employed in the outdoor occupations of agriculture, would be comfortably warm.'
In speaking of the size of school rooins, we find the following remarks. On this subject much more might be said ; but it
Writing Desks, and Seats.
seems almost in vain to urge this point, so strongly do the community cling to their money, and grudge to expend it for the more important objects.
• In regard to the size of the rooms, it may be observed, generally, that in addition to the room requisite for seats and desks, as described below, there should be an open space all around the walls, at least two feet and a half in width, besides room for common recitations, and for the teacher's desk. Seats may be attached to the walls for the accommodation of visitors, or for the scholars, should it ever be desirable, for any purpose, to arrange them in a continuous line. Moveable benches may be provided—instead of seats fastened to the wall—to be taken away, when not wanted for use, and so to leave that space entirely unoccupied.
'Joseph Lancaster, in making arrangements for great numbers of the children of the poor, where cheapness was a main object, allows nine feet area, on the floor, to each scholar.
His rooms were fifteen or twenty feet high. If only fifteen feet high, an area of nine feet would give one hundred and thirtyfive cubic feet of space to each scholar; and one hundred and thirtyfive cubic feet in a room ten feet high, would give to each scholar an area four feet in length, and almost three feet and a half in width. Even at this rate, a family of six persons would have a room only about eight feet by ten.'
On the subject of desks and seats the report dwells at greater length. While reading the extracts we have made on this part of the subject, our readers will do well to turn often to the engraving, which will greaily aid them in obtaining a correct view of the intent and meaning of the report.
• It seems to be a very prevalent opinion, at the present day, amongst all professional teachers, that seats, on a horizontal floor, are preferable to those which rise on the sides or at th: end of a roon, or both, in the form of an amphitheatre. And it is obviously a great fault in the construction of a room, if, when a class is brought upon the floor to recite, the teacher is obliged to turn his back upon the school, when he looks at the class, or upon the class when he looks at the school. A level floor also increases the space for air, and as the room is warmed downwards, it makes the temperature more equable.'
This paragraph we do not quite understand. We have been taught—and experience and observation seem to have confirmed the sentiment—that rooms were warmed upwards, and not downwards. True, we like level floors; but not for this reason. But to proceed.
•The seats with desks should be arranged in parallel lines, lengthwise of the room, with aisles between, each seat to accommodate one scholar only. Although it would be better that they should be moveable, yet this cannot, perhaps, ordinarily be done for district schools. The front side of one seat may be the back of the next in the row. Eighteen inches is, perhaps, a suitable width for the aisles. Each desk should be two feet long, and not less than one foot and six inches wide. A width of one foot and nine inches would be better.
• In some houses, the seats connected with single desks are one foot square, and are placed behind the middle of the desks; in others, the seats are one foot wide, and as long as the desks. It may sometimes be desirable to place two scholars temporarily on the same seat, as for the purpose of reading from the same book. The rmer arrangement would make this impracticable.
The children will sit more easily and more upright, if the back of the seals slope a little from them, at the shoulder blades; and also, if the seats themselves incline a little—the front part being a little the highest. The forward part of the desk should be level for about three or four inches. The residue should have a slight inclination. A slope of an inch and a half in a foot, would, probably, be sufficient.* It should not be so great, as that the books and slates would slide off.
For the deposit of books, and so forth, there may be a shelf under the desk, or the desk may be a box, with a cover, hung upon hinges for a lid. The first method supersedes the necessity of raising a lid, by which books, pencils, and so forth, are sometimes thrown upon the floor, or upon the front neighbor. The shelf, however, is far less convenient, and the contents are liable to be perpetually dropped out. The box and lid on the whole seem much preferable, the sloping part of the cover to constitute the lid.
For the security of the desks, locks and keys are sometimes used. But the keys will occasionally be lost, by accident; and sometimes, by bad scholars, on purpose. Besides, what appalling images throng the mind, at the reflection, that the earliest associations of children in regard to the security of property amongst themselves, must be of locks and hiding places, instead of bonesty and justice !
"The board which makes the front of one seat and the back of the next, should rise, perhaps a couple of inches above the level of the horizontal part of the desk, to prevent things from
* We do not believe in the necessity of any slope ; but it is a matter of too little consequence to dwell upon long-Ed.
Form of the Writers' Seats.
sliding off forwards. Into this horizontal part of the desk, the inkstands may be let; so loosely, however, as to allow of their being taken out to be filled; and so deep, that their tops will be on a level with the desks. They may be covered, either with a metallic lid, resembling a butt hinge, to rise and fall; or, which is better, with a common slide, or with a fat circular piece of pewter, having a stem projecting on one side, like the stem of a watch, through which a nail or screw may be driven, not tightly, but so that the cover may be made to slide over or off the orifice of the inkstand, on the nail or screw, as a hinge.
Instead of the form of desks, above described, I have seen some constructed after the plan of Alcott's Prize Essay, in which the box or case for the books, and so forth, is in the front part of the desk; that is, in the horizontal and not the sloping part of the desk above described. They are made about eight inches in width, and deep enough to receive the largest atlases, slates and writing books, when placed edgewise, for which purpose, an inch or two on one side of the box is partitioned off. The lid is hung on hinges, as above described ; and when shut, forms a part of the desk.
Last year a gentleman in Hartford, Conn., offered a bandsome premium for the best form of a desk for schools. Several plans were submitted to the judges, selected to award the premium. They decided in favor of a desk, designed to accommodate two scholars, upon one seat. The desk was a tight box, without any lid, but having an oblong opening, at each end, large enough to admit books, slates, &c. In this way, whatever was put in or taken out of the desk would be exposed to the view of the teacher and scholars.
• The edge of the desk and of the seat, should be in the same perpendicular line. This will not allow the scholar to stand up in front of his seat; but if the seats and desks are single, he can stand on one side of the seat. If the seats and desks are de. signed for two scholars, then the corner of each scholar's seat may be cut off, as in the representation below.
77 7 · Here the scholar can stand up in the corner a, or sit upon the seat b.
• In regard to the height of the seats, it is common to give exact measurements. But inflexible rules will never fit varying circumstances. Some school rooms are for females; others for
Injuring the Physical Frames of Children.
boys only. In factory villages, usually, a great proportion of the scholars are young; while, in one county in the State, great numbers of the males attending school, during the winter term, are more than sixteen years of age. To follow unvarying rules, therefore, would aggrieve as many as it would accommodate. But the principles to be observed, are few and capable of a definite exposition.
'A living child cannot be expected to sit still, unless he has a support to his back, and a firm resting place for his feet. As a scholar sits upright in his seat, the knee joint forming a right angle, and the feet being planted horizontally on the floor, no pressure whatever should come upon the thigh bone where it crosses the edge of the seat. I obliged to sit upon too high a seat, a foot board or block should always be provided for the feet to rest upon.
• Children sometimes go to school at an age when many of their bones are almost as limber as a green withe, when almost any one of the numerous joints in the body may be loosened or distorted. They go almost as early, as when the Chinese turn their children's feet into the shape of horses' houfs ; or, when some tribes of Indians make their children's heads as square as a joiner's box. And, at this period of life, when portions of the bones are but little more than cartilage, and the muscles will stretch like sheep's leather, the question is, whether the seats shall be conformed to the children, or the children shall be deformed to the seats.
'I am informed by surgeons and physicians, that a pupil, when writing, should face the writing desk squarely. This position avoids all unequal lateral pressure upon the spinal column, and of course all unequal tension of the muscles on either side of it. It also interferes least with the free play of the thoracic viscera, which is a point of great importance. The edge of the desk should then be an inch or two above the bend of the elbow, the arm hangs nearly by the side. Any slight want of exact adjustment can be corrected, by extending the elbow farther from, or bringing it nearer to the body.
• The height of the seats and desks should of course be graduated, to fit the different sizes of the scholars; the smallest scholars sitting nearest the teacher's desk.
• The arrangement of seats without desks, for small scholars, when needed, is too obvious to require any explanation. Their proper position will depend upon the other arrangements of the school room. Long benches, having separate chair-shaped seats, but with a continuous back, are sometimes used.