|THE RELATION OF THE MANUAL ARTS TO HEALTH|
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, CALIFORNIA
THE relation of the manual arts to health may be considered under two aspects: as they affect the immediate well-being of the pupils and teachers concerned, or in their ultimate influence upon the individual and upon society. Under the former caption belong the hygienic rules pertaining to the performance of the manual occupations in the school, these mostly of negative and precautionary nature The latter relation has to do with the positive contribution which the manual arts, are capable of making toward the final attainment of mental and physical health.
Regarding the former, there is probably little to be said that would be new to those who know the manual arts practises from within. The well-trained teachers of this work are aware that the manual arts, inasmuch as they frequently involve "near-work" and sedentary posture, share with other school subjects the danger of injury to eyes, lungs, nervous control and symmetry of form. Teachers of the household arts, for example, appreciate the fact that sewing, in particular, makes demands upon the eyes and the spine of hardly less hygienic import than the much-berated practises of reading and writing. The forward inclination of the head, however occasioned, produces spinal curvature, sub-normal vital capacity and myopia. It is hardly necessary to point out that these dangers are greatly intensified by the use of small models, too fine stitches, dark colored goods, or any materials which, because of' a lack of color contrast, make visual discrimination difficult. Professor Schuyten, of Antwerp, investigated the handwork of some four thousand schoolgirls of Belgium and found that about one third testified to visual difficulties in connection with their sewing. Austria has found it necessary to limit by law the fineness of materials which may be used in the manual work of children under ten years of age and to adopt other regulations pertaining to this line of school practise. The German investigators have endeavored to elaborate norms to govern various matters of manual occupations, including posture, delicacy of muscular coordination, kind and amount of light, length of the period of instruction, and its location in the school day.
Teachers of sloyd know that the use of the plane may throw the child into a more unfavorable position than the use of the pen, and