Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/336

This page has been validated.
322
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

they are not in the least responsible. I have known girls cry bitterly because an accident or headache prevented them preparing their lessons for the morrow, and blame themselves severely about it. It is not uncommon for our Scotch girls, at least, to think it is some dereliction of duty and sin on their part that prevents them from attaining a high place at school. The whole process of education, as it exists in some schools, with its competition, long hours of work, short hours of recreation, enthusiasm for work, and conscientiousness in the doing of it, takes up all the available energy of the girl. There is little left for joyous feeling and enjoyment of life for its own sake. The sources of vital energy in the brain are not sufficiently replenished by fresh air and the frolic natural to the age. Blood is not formed in sufficient amount, and pale cheeks and flabby muscles are the result. Nature can not get material and force to build up the form toward the fair woman's ideal, and, therefore, personal beauty and grace of movement are not attained to the extent they should be. As for a store of energy being laid up, as it should be at that age, for the future, for woman's work of the future, for motherhood, for the race of the future, how can it be, when every available energy is taken up in this educative process?

The methods of education are nowadays made far more pleasant for a pupil than they were formerly. Every art and device is now adopted to make it attractive and interesting. That, no doubt, is in the right direction, and it has resulted from a closer study of the mental nature of pupils. But it is attended with this danger, that, being more attractive, it can be pushed further and more hurtfully to the constitution, by the aid of the pupils, as it were. Its very seductiveness and interest, like the tempting courses of a feast, tend toward dangerous surfeiting.

It must be remembered that, in many respects, the female organism is far more delicate than that of men. This is especially so at adolescence. The machine is less tough, and breaks down at slighter causes. It has more calls on it. It needs more careful management. It is not steady in its action, but irregular. It is not fitted for the regular grind that the man can keep up. Having beauty and harmony as two of its great ideal aims, its strength is not so great. Having to lay up more for the future, it can't expend so much in the present. Sensitiveness always implies delicacy, and in many cases instability in nature. Even suppose it is granted that it was a good thing for a woman that her brain should contain all the book-knowledge that many modern educationalists demand, this good thing might be altogether counterbalanced if the labor of acquiring it stopped one inch of growth, or diminished the joy and organic satisfaction of life one iota. If the men of the future were to suffer and be degenerate through it in the faintest degree, then it would be radically bad.

There is one most unaccountable want in very many girls' schools