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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/600

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

prevent more ailments than all the pills in Herrick's list of patent medicines. Moreover, it will keep them quiet where other children are sure to be fidgety—in the parlor and at school. Every school-teacher knows that young ruralists are more sedate than city boys; out-door work has given them all the exercise they need; they can take it easy while their comrades are fretting under an irksome restraint. After an hour or two of German gymnastics, combined with wood-chopping and water-carrying, if you like, the wildest boy will prefer a chair to a flying trapeze; for, if the tonic development of the organism is not grossly neglected, sedentary employments per se are by no means contrary to nature; in the intervals of their play, the young of frolicsome animals will sit motionless for hours; even kittens and young monkeys; not to mention colts which have off-days, when they won't stir a foot if they can help it.

It would be a great improvement on our present system of school education, if children could learn the rudiments at home and pass their infancy, the first eight or ten years, at least, under the immediate supervision of their parents; a transition-period of three or four years of home studies would help them to steer clear of many moral and physiological cliffs. It is always the best preparatory school; only a private teacher has time and patience to interest a pupil in the dry principia of every science; but a still greater advantage is his independence of fixed methods and fixed hours. As a general rule, the forenoon is the best time for studies, and the airiest room in the house the best locality. Pure air has a wonderful effect on the clearness of our cerebral functions; the half-suffocating atmosphere of the average schoolroom is as stupefying as the influence of a half-intoxicating drink. Heat aggravates the offensiveness of foul air; but in a well ventilated room the degree of temperature is comparatively unimportant. As it would be inconvenient to load ourselves with blankets in daytime, less than 50° Fahr. would make sedentary occupations rather uncomfortable, and more than 80° would become oppressive in a close apartment; but between these extremes we may safely suit our convenience. Perfectly pure or perfumed air may be very warm and still very pleasant, as all know who have entered a conservatory or a tidy baker's shop on a cold winter day.

In large town schools, where hundreds of children have to breathe the same air, I would advise a change of rooms from hour to hour, and a thorough renovation of the vitiated atmosphere by opening every window and every door, and keeping up a rousing fire. The air-currents could be reënforced by mechanical means—canvas-floppers or revolving fans—and fumigation would greatly aid the good work. The South European druggists sell various kinds of frankincense that can be burned on a pan or a common stove, and will fill a large church with odors more or less Sabæan, according to price—ten cents' worth a day would be enough to beatify a whole town school; Mohammed, the