Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/348

This page has been validated.
334
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

point of my argument is, that it is not founded on any basis of collated statistical facts. I have said to you, "I and many other physicians and physiologists have seen many undoubted instances of girls being hurt by over-education under bad conditions," but we can not say that out of every hundred girls such a percentage do suffer. We have not the facts to enable us to do so. I hope such facts will be recorded in the future, and may be all the more likely to be observed and recorded through attention being directed to the matter. I am well aware, too, that teachers are not most to blame for any bad results that are to be attributed to the present system of over-educating girls. Parents and the spirit of the time are more culpable than teachers. The latter are the public's servants, and must do the public's bidding. They are expected to work "The Code" energetically, to earn large grants, to make bricks without much straw in many cases, to turn out omniscient governesses and teachers in a few short sessions. Parents cry out to them about their children, "They are idle," if the whole evening is not taken up with lesson-learning, or if the animal spirits are too high or the holidays too long. I could tell some sad tales of brain break-down in overworked teachers, male and female, if that were not beyond the scope of this lecture.

I went last July to see the examination and distribution of prizes in a very large city school for young ladies. While the young girls there were very many of them fresh in complexion and plump, I must say that the majority of the girls above thirteen seemed to me jaded, and pale, and unduly thin. I did not see a dozen pairs of rosy cheeks in a hundred of them. To my eye, many of them bore very evident signs of over-brain-work and deficient physical energy. They didn't look joyous and full of animal glee, as girls at that age should look. Like Dr. John Brown's terrier, "life was too full of seriousness" to them. Two Sundays after, I was in a country kirk in the far north, where modern educational systems are as yet unknown, and I contrasted the appearance of the farmers' daughters there with that of the prize-winners in the city school. The difference was absolutely astounding. I only wish I could convey the impression I received in both cases from a critical doctor's survey of both sets of girls. If the one set exemplified health, robustness, organic happiness, strength, resistive power against disease, and potential motherhood, then, beyond a doubt, the other set did not fully do so. The question of the future is, How can we get, or how much can we get of, the intelligence and book-culture of the latter, combined with the health of the former? The health we must have, for it is requisite for the life of the race; the culture we must have in such degree as is consistent with the health.