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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/53

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49
ALUMNA'S CHILDREN.

various theories this element in the problem appears. Among later utterances, Dr. Engelmann said, 'Race decline is not due to education, not of the educated man at least. The educated woman is in a different class.' Professor Thorndike concludes that 'the condition is due to a decrease in fertility in the racial group to which college men and their wives belong.' In passing we might quote another sentence of his: "The opinion of metropolitan physicians may here be as wide of the mark as the common belief that unwillingness is the cause of the failure of the women of the better class to nurse their own children."

If you grant me for a time that the cause of the 1.8—it seems like the judgment of Solomon to speak of tenths of a child!—be physical inability, what is the cause of this inability among the, let us say, schooled American women, with the rate the lowest among those who have been longest in school? What is the cause of the extirpation of that function which one would think would be of all others promoted by natural selection? Is our system of education an element in this result? These questions are surely vital in more senses than one.

Thus far I have been sure of my ground, even if I could not make it clear. Now the way is more obscure, for undoubtedly different influences operate in different classes to undermine the health of our girls. If this weakness of function appears especially among college girls, is then the college course at fault? The birth rate is only a little lower among the alumnae, and we may find that their disability is due to conditions not directly a part of the college course, which each college woman undergoes and only nearly all other women. Observation has almost universally brought the report that the average girl improves in health during her college course.

Is then the responsibility in the high school, where the greater part of our girls do their preparatory work? Very many girls break down here, we know. Frequently a high school teacher attributes a high school boy's inaccuracy in arithmetic or his slovenly English to 'poor preparation in the grammar grades.' This may or may not be just, but I wish some one could find how much of the poor health in high school and college and during later life is due to the way in which our girls go to the grammar school.

'The way in which they go.' There is no especial fault in the content of their education, primary, secondary, collegiate or university. There is no need of making their curriculum feminine, lest womanly instincts be dulled. It is the way of taking the schooling, the physical demands of it, that have been responsible for most of the invalids that I have happened to know. Alumna's fate was sealed when she was in the grammar school.

When the bee larvæ are about a week old, you remember, it is determined whether they shall become queens or workers. It is simply