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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/54

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

a question of nourishment; the queen has an abundance of the best food; the worker has a limited supply of inferior quality. The result is a stunting of the reproductive system of the worker bee.

May it not be possible that a similar effect comes in some degree to our women from our school system? The grammar school girl is a larva, if you please, at the age when she should develop a new system of her being, vital both to herself and to her race. To perfect these organs she needs all her rich red blood, all her nervous force. If the brain claims her whole vitality, how can there be any proper development? Just as very young children should give all their strength for some years solely to physical growth before the brain is allowed to make any considerable demands, so at this critical period in the life of the woman nothing should obstruct the right of way of this important system. A year at the least should be made especially easy for her, with neither mental nor nervous strain; and throughout the rest of her school days she should have her periodical day of rest, free from any study or overexertion. Most school girls have many unhygienic habits, all of which tend toward checking her development. Exactly these points were suggested in an editorial note in this magazine some months ago, I remember. The physical conditions and irregularities general among high school girls are appalling, in reference both to their own enjoyment and to the larger interests of the race.

But this is not an argument against our system of education in itself; the matter is not one for school boards to regulate. The intelligent fathers and mothers of our little girls of to-day are the only ones who can remedy these conditions. They can make the girl take one easy year, even though it means 'losing a grade,' that bug-a-boo of school girls; and they can keep for her her needed days of rest throughout her course. Even a year's delay in graduation is not so bad as a dwarfing of development. To hear a school girl speak to the question of her waiting a year, one would judge that existence out of her own particular class would necessarily separate her from all the desirable pupils in school. But those arguments—have you ever noticed?—are never employed when a girl is given a double promotion and advanced a class.

Losing a grade would not often be necessary, however. Ideal conditions would permit a mother to take her daughter to herself for that one year—to teach her the school work and all the other things in which she needs wise and loving instruction especially at this time, welding a companionship which will be the greatest possible barrier against future mistake and sorrow for the young woman in shaping her life.

That it is not always possible for a mother to follow this course I recognize, though it might be arranged much more often than it is if