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Thermometers in School Roons.
We often meet with a prejudice against furnaces, which belongs not to the furnaces themselves, but those who set them. There seems to be no objection, except it be that of appearance, against setting the furnace so high in the cellar, as that its brick or soapstone top shall be on a level with the floor of the room and constitute a part of it.'
Against lowering the windows to ventilate school rooms---10 which we were formerly accustomed-Mr M. objects; and with some reason. Still, with care, we think the evils to which he refers could be avoided ; at any rate, the plan is better than suffocation. But we will quote a paragraph of the Report.
The common expedient of letting down windows from the top, so that the noixous air may escape, and the vacuum be filled with the pure, accomplishes the object in a very imperfect, and, at the same time, an objectionable manner. If there be any wind abroad, or, if there be a great difference in temperature, between the external air and the air of the room, the former rushes in with great violence and mingles with the heated and corrupted air, so that unless several rooms-fulls of air be admitted, a portion of that which has been rendered unfit for use, will still remain, while some that has been partially warmed will escape. But the greatest objection is that the cold air drops like a shower bath upon the scholars' heads ;-a mode which all agree in pronouncing unhealthful and sometimes dangerous.
To aid in regulating the TEMPERATURE of school rooms, Mr M. thus defends the use, in all cases, of thermometers.
'A thermometer should be kept in every school-room, and hung on the coolest side of it. The proper temperature should be determined by unchangeable laws; not by the variable feelings or caprice of any individual.
Without a thermometer, if the teacher be habituated to live in the open air ; if he be healthy, vigorous and young; if he walk a mile or several miles to school ; and especially, if he keep upon his feet during school hours, the scholars will be drilled and scolded into a resignation to great suffering from cold.
If, on the other hand, the teacher lead a sedentary life ; if his health be feeble; if he step into the school-room from a neighboring door, he will, perhaps unconsciously, create an artificial summer about himself, and subject the children to a perilous transition in temperature, whenever they leave his tropical regions. In this way, a child's lungs may get a wound in early life, which neither Cuba nor the South of France can ever afterwards heal.
A selfish or inconsiderate master will burn a whole room-full of children during the chill, and freeze them during the fever of
Size, foc., 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 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 greatly 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 the end of a room, 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 former arrangement would make this impracticable.
The children will sit more easily and more upright, if the back of the seats 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 honesty 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 flat 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 handsome 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.
· 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