Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/525

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TEACHING PHYSIOLOGY IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

TEACHING PHYSIOLOGY IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
By A TEACHER.

IT will not be amiss at this time, when many of the States have decided that "physiology and hygiene, with special reference to the effects on the human system of alcoholic stimulants and narcotics," must be taught in their public schools, to glance at the reasons for such teaching, at some of the books and methods in use, at some of the results already obtained, and at what might reasonably be expected to result from proper teaching and proper study.

Those who study the causes of infant mortality, especially in large cities, of intemperance among the laboring-classes, of the crimes which thrive in the hot-bed of tenement-house life, of the increase of nervous disorders and insanity in this country, can not but see that dissipation (using the term in a general sense) and a disregard of the requirements of health are responsible in a large measure for the evils named, as well as for others which afflict mainly the so-called higher classes of society. The fact that much of the dissipation and the disregard of health laws is due to ignorance rather than to want of thought is sufficient reason for the study of health laws. But, as the health of individuals is closely related to the health of the village, town, or city in which they live, and as "public health is public wealth," another reason is apparent for the popular study of hygiene. Says Dr. H. P. Yeomans, of the Provincial Board of Health, Ontario, Canada: "Practical experience has demonstrated that the work of educating the people in all that pertains to public hygiene is a most important factor in the successful accomplishment of our objects as sanitarians. At every step in our legislative halls with local health authorities, in communities, and in our experience with individual citizens, we encounter more or less opposition arising from a lack of intelligent comprehension of the causes of disease, the best method of preventing the spread of epidemics, and generally of the preservation of public health. ... It is a well-recognized principle, especially in a free country, where the sovereign power is lodged in the body of the people, that popular sentiment must proceed in advance of legislation in order that the successful enforcement of law may be secured."

The instruction of the adult population in Health matters must be, in the main, through the current literature of the day and by popular lectures. The children who are to be the future molders of the country's welfare should be systematically and properly taught in the schools physiology and hygiene, with only enough anatomy as a foundation for the study of physiology.