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placing it at a proper part of the room and suffering it to remain there long enough, he ascertains that the general temperature is 750 of Fahrenheit.
This heat he knows to be too great for heath, especially in the morning, when both the pupils and teacher are vigorous, and their vital energies unexhausted are capable of manufacturing a comparatively large amount of internal heat. He knows that they will require a higher temperature all the rest of the day, in order to be comfortable, than if they had not been immersed in an atmosphere so hot by ten degrees during the morning. Perhaps he mentions the fact modestly, to the teacher ; or if this would be likely to be regarded as interfering with his rights or lessening the respect of the pupils, he merely observes and records it.
The next day he arrives an hour later. He not only notices the temperature of the room, but the manner in which the forenoon recess is conducted, with the character of the amusements which occupy the attention of the pupils at this season. Most schools have a recess of a few minutes at this hour of the forenoon; and all ought to have. He observes its length as well as other things, and whether the teacher has any control or direction in regard to it, and to the habits of the children. For example he watches to see whether they are in the habit of eating or drinking at these times; and if they drink, whether they drink cold water in large quantities when heated with their exercises, and whether they are suffered to come in after the recess and sit by an open window, in a current of air to cool themselves. Of all this, if he even makes no suggestions to the teacher, he preserves an accurate record.
The third day he notices perhaps the character of the seats and desks of the pupils ; whether they are both properly constructed, and whether or not they sit at them in a proper position, or too long a time, &c.
Another day, he will observe the manner of spending the intermission, if the pupils remain at the school house ; its length; the nature and tendency of their sports, &c.
A fifth day is spent-I mean half an hour or so of it, for I suppose a physician might visit several schools in a day; say six or eight-in attending to the purity of the air in the school room ; and to the means which are used for daily and hourly ventilation. Great is the neglect, on this subject, in
almost all our schools, and great are the evils which accompany or grow out of it.
There are numerous other matters of importance, connected with the health and morals of the pupils of our schools, especially such schools as those to which I now refer (though by the way what I have here considered as applicable to the primary schools of Boston, is almost equally so to primary schools in general in the rest of our cities, and to our common or district schools all over the country) to which the eagle eye of a wise superintending physician should be directed. Of every thing, as I have already said, he should make a full and faithful report, at the end of each week, to the proper officers.
Such a course, faithfully pursued, could not but result in great and permanent good. It is highly probable that every sensible teacher who was made acquainted with this arrangement, would esteem it a favor to know the views of the physician from day to day, or at least to see his record. And perhaps, besides this, he would regard it as an additional favor to be allowed to attend the weekly meetings of the board to hear the whole report, and their suggestions.
Were this course pursued in our schools, but for one year I cannot doubt that the following, among others, would be its advantages.
1. It would be a source of instruction to every inquiring teacher. I scarcely know of any thing—short of a severe course of study in anatomy, physiology, and hygiene-which would be of more practical value to this class of persons, as a preparation for future usefulness.
2. It would be a means of enlightening committees and trustees, &c.--the persons I mean to whom the physician is required to make his stated reports. It would be almost as good a school to them, as to the teachers.
3. Parents, too, could hardly fail to become both enlightened and aroused to a sense of their duty. The reports, in fact, in some form or other, ought to come before them; but if not, it would be impossible for them to shut their eyes or their ears to what was going on. Still more would they be benefited, if, with the knowledge they were acquiring, every week, from a source like this, they were also seeking light on the same great subject from other sources, books and periodicals, and especially the great book of observation and experience.
4. Most physicians would themselves be greatly benefited by attending, for at least one year each, to duties of this kind. As things now are, they are seldom expected-nor, as I was going to say permitted—to do much for us in the way of prevention. Their whole aim is at the correction of evils which, for the most part might have been prevented. Thus it is that what knowledge of the human structure and the laws of life and health is obtained at the medical school, or by reading carelessly or reciting without understanding a few authors, is soon forgotten. Whereas if they were expected and compelled to understand those subjects, their attention would soon be turned that way, and they would not only be preferred to teach us the art of prevention, but at the same time be much better fitted to assist nature in the work of cure.
5. It would also furnish employment, to some extent, to a class of citizens whose services, on the old plan, are becoming daily less and less necessary. For if the cause of temperance in all things is to go on as it ought to do, for a century to come; if there is to be an effectual reformation in our personal and social and domestic habits; if wars and other causes of human disease and destruction are soon to cease ; if in one word christianity, pure and undefiled, is ere long to prevail and is to be brought to bear largely on the physical condition of man, through his whole progress, individual and social, from the cradle to the tomb, it may seem to many as by no means improbable that the services of medical men, may then be dispensed with. It may seem to them moreover, as equally probable, that just in proportion as society passes from its present condition to a better, by the gradual emancipation of man from the slavery of ignorance, vice, crimes and bad habits, especially physical ones, and by the gradual introduction of knowledge, virtue, religion, temperance, health and longevity, just in the same proportion will medical men be thrown out of employ, and deprived of the means of obtaining a livelihood.
The conclusion is a natural one ; and as things now are, the demand for physicians, in proportion I mean to the population and its yearly increase, must be diminished. But it need not be so ; nor should it be. The services of men who have studied deeply the laws of the human body-and of the inind, too, for a knowledge of the body cannot be fully
obtained without a knowledge of the mind--are of inestimable value to the world, and should by all means be secured and turned to good account. Their employment in schools, for a time at least, would be one way of doing this. Not only are they needed in the infant school, the primary and common school, the high school, the university-in short in all sorts of schools, as the term school is usually applied
-but also in the family school. Here, above all other places, are their services needed, in carrying on the work of prevention.
It may indeed be said, I suppose it will be so said--that this mode of employment, even if it were to become general, is but temporary: that it would not be long before all our schools, on the plan suggested, would be set right; and that there would then be no need of medical advice. Teachers, it will be said, and probably parents themselves, will soon perceive the necessity of acquiring the art of preventing disease in both school and family.
To reason thus, however, would be to attach, in the premises, a greater value to the suggestions I have made in this article than I have ever as yet, even in my most sanguine moments, dared to claim. Yet admitting this were true, admitting, I say, that in preventing disease physicians must of necessity be thrown gradually out of employ, be it so. They can earn their bread in some other manner. Nor need their talents or their acquirements be lost, wholly so in a world like this, where there is every thing to do ; where the harvest might be abundant in proportion the abundance of philanthropic and christian laborers.
But it is not true. For in the first place, neither teachers nor parents are likely to be set wholly right in these matters, in a long time. There is more to do in this respect, than most of us have ever yet supposed. In the second place, I have spoken as if weekly or monthly visits might in time supersede the necessity of daily ones ; and so they might. Still this does not prove that the daily visits of an intelligent student of all the Creator's laws, natural and moral,—such as every physician should be, and in the end must become would not be of exceeding great value, in every school and family, even when there was present no positive disease, and when parents and teachers, universally, were thoroughly instructed in the same matters themselves. The wiser we are, the better prepared are we to derive advantage from coming in contact with the knowledge of others. The more virtuous we are, and the better we understand moral and religious laws, the greater the benefit from daily conversations with others as affording us instruction or lessons in the art of virtue. So in like manner, the more healthy we and our families or schools are, the better we understand the laws of life and health and disease, the greater the advantages to be derived from daily conversations of greater or less length, with wise and experienced physicians.
But can we, or our children, or our pupils be more than healthy ? I shall doubtless be asked. And why will you not ask, with the same propriety, whether we or they can be more than wise or more than virtuous or pious ? The state of our bodies, indicated by the term health, is no more, at any time, at any age, or in any circumstances, a state of perfection, absolutely so, than the state of our minds and souls, as regards knowledge or excellence. All, all, so far as we know at present, is comparative. And paradoxical as the statement may seem, I have often made it, that in the present low state of humanity, most people are too ignorant to derive much benefit from knowledge, too imperfect to be much elevated by our efforts for their moral improvement; and too far from absolute health-if such a thing there beto be much benefited by our attempts to render them more healthy.
I should be glad, both as a parent and as a teacher, to converse an hour, every day, with the wisest and best physicians I could find, in regard to the best means of improving the physical condition of my children and pupils. I believe it would be time profitably spent; and that the services of the physician would be such as I, for my own family, and the parents of my pupils on their behalf, could well afford to pay for. Whether one, who has studied the subjects of health and disease, nearly twenty years, needs instruction in these matters more than others, the reader will, of course judge for himself.
It is not enough, for example, to secure ourselves from actual pain and suffering, and the actual loss of time and money ; nor is it enough that we preserve ourselves and our children from sickness, suffering, &c. from birth to the age of eighty or even one hundred ; though this were in