Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/281

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MOTOR EDUCATION

but have their uses, especially as a means of defence for women. Children readily learn them and they serve as excellent training in swift aggressions or defences for a weakling.

In swimming we have a perfect means of training in grace, symmetry and forceful movements. Every child should be taught this most valuable art almost as soon as it can walk. j

Boxing may well be taught to little boys and little girls too; if for no other reason than to implant the power of standing firm on the feet under all kinds of difficulty. Curiously enough there is no means of teaching waltzing and guiding in a crush so good as the foot-work in sparring. Since it trains the whole body, including arms, chest and head (especially producing mobility and accuracy in placing the neck) and above all, since it encourages the great moral qualities of patience, good nature and self-restraint, sparring can be ranked among the most valuable of educational exercises.

Of the utility of dancing too much can scarcely be said in praise. It is safe to endorse the unreserved recommendation of a lady whose opinion in all worldly matters commands my respect, who asserts that no child has been properly trained until taught at least the simpler fancy dances, e. g., the sailor's hornpipe and the Spanish fandango. As to "buck-and-wing" dancing, I can only say that it supplies much of value in many excellent directions, but savors of boisterousness overmuch for my taste. The same may be said even more emphatically of jig or clog dancing. Marching, military drill, with or without arms, both offer many valuable opportunities.

The modifications of these as employed by the Turnverein drills, wand and ring drills, "graces," all are to be highly commended when available.

In estimating the utility of any plan of education we should keep always before us the object to be attained. However useful the acquisition of knowledge, rules, principles, etc., may be, most, if not all our daily conduct is regulated by habits. The habitual processes, both mental and physical, become so strong that they dominate not only the individual throughout life, but also nations and races. Habits formed during one epoch impress the citizen maturing in that epoch. Another epoch and different groups of impressions alter points of view. This is peculiarly noticeable in religion as well as in fashions and industries.

Habits are motor modifications in nerve substance, which gradually become stable and accurate through repetition of actions, whereby they grow more easy of performance. Thus is memory made the product of countless actions which have been performed many times before. Hence we remember most easily sense-impressions most frequently received, or acts most often performed. Thus many nerve-paths are developed in brain-cells or fibers, also shorter and easier routes are acquired, through connecting or association structures. Thus habit