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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/104

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should go," sufficiently heeded? Dr. Oswald says: "Early impressions are very enduring, and can make evil habits as well as useful ones a sort of second nature. In order to forestall the chief danger of an in-door life, make your children love-sick for fresh air; make them associate the idea of fusty rooms with prison-life, punishment, and sickness." So at school, the deprivation of the regular recess ought to be as severe a punishment as the criminal code of the school permits, and to be sent to the school-room from the play-ground should be a sufficient penalty for the worst offense, and is a punishment that should be administered to the juvenile offender only for offenses of a nature similar to those which in the adult offender are punished by incarceration in the jail or bridewell.

Our physical constitution was never intended for the sluggish inactivity of our sedentary and bookish school-life, and we sin against the laws of our being when we forego necessary physical exercise. Sloth is not one of our original sins, but an acquired one, and perhaps in no other place is its acquisition so rapid as in a modern school-room, where pencils arid paper are passed to the pupils, and every movement must be quiet, subdued, and noiseless, and where the temperature is kept at a uniform degree, so that not even the involuntary muscles get any exercise. When along with this condition come the multitude of studies pursued, and the pressure of emulation, and upon all the abolition of the regular play-spell, what is there to prevent the boys and girls from forming the most fatal habits of muscular indolence? A recent writer in the "Monthly" says: "Where the chief danger seems to lie, in most schools, is in the encroachment made on the play-hours. In some schools the lessons set to be learned at home are absurdly long and tedious. I find that in other schools, public and private, a great deal of work is done during the period nominally allotted to recreation only. This is a very important part of the actual school system, and one which requires great care on the part of the masters" ("Science Monthly," March, 1880). In a school of eighty pupils, with ages ranging from twelve to fifteen years, each pupil counted his pulsations for one minute immediately before and after a fifteen minutes' recess, and recorded each result upon a card; the recess was varied, sometimes an out-door, sometimes an in-door, with light gymnastics, and sometimes the pupils were advised to follow their own inclination in the matter, but always to record upon the card how the recess was passed. These are some of the general averages:

1. Those pupils who go out and engage in play increase the number of pulsations per minute by 13·4. 2. Those who engage in in-door gymnastics increase the number by 3. 3. Those who stay in the school-room at their seats, or visiting their neighbors, decrease their number by 3·8. This increase of number of pulsations from the recess-play is by no means the full measure of the benefit derived, for that increase