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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/338

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Think of an undeveloped brain getting up book-knowledge on ten different subjects all the same day, and this going on day after day for years! It is altogether contrary to the principles of a sound psychology to imagine that any sort of mental process, worthy of the name of thinking, can take place in that brain while that is going on. The natural tendency of a good brain at that age to be inquisitive and receptive is glutted to more than satiety. The natural process of building up a fabric of mental completeness by having each new fact and observation looked at in different ways, and having it suggest other facts and ideas, and then settle down as a part of the regular furniture of the mind, can not possibly go on where new facts are shoveled in by the hundred day by day. The effect of this is bad on boys, but is worse on girls, because it is more alien to their mental constitution. The effect on them of this unnatural process is to exhaust the nervous power at the time, and to leave the brain afterward filled with useless things that are soon forgotten and pass away; as Goethe said about professional men: they labor under a great disadvantage in not being allowed to be ignorant of what is to them useless. The vital energies and nervous power that had thus been thrown away should have gone toward a feminine equipment of a healthy, well-developed body, a mind built up and stored with knowledge that had a relation to its own nature and to the wants of its future life, affections not attenuated by scholastic routine, and a cheerfulness that is only compatible with good health. The cramming up of the dry facts of those many subjects is in most cases a weariness and pain, while the intelligent study of one third of them, selected on account of their fitness to the mental constitution of the learner, or her probable requirements in future life, might be a pleasure and a lasting profit. I would strongly advise parents occasionally to take their daughters' night tasks and do them themselves. It is far more important to extend female education till after twenty years of age than male education.

While education is going on, a regular periodic testing of the bodily growth and condition should also be carried out in the case of every girl. Her rate of growth should be marked by a notch on a stick every quarter. As regularly as the school fees are paid her weight should be taken, the color of her cheeks and lips should be looked at and noted, her appetite and digestion should be looked to, her habits of activity or otherwise should be observed, her power of sleeping should be noticed, the mode of growth should be observed—e. g., whether her chest is expanding, whether her shoulders are sloping or stooping, whether she is soft or firm in the flesh, etc. Her general mental condition, whether she is frolicsome or irritable, enthusiastic or sluggish, selfish and grudging, or not, is of great moment as an index of the general brain-condition. Of course, anything like disorder of health, or pain, or sleeplessness, or want of appetite, or pallor, or