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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

—The Boy—

—The Boy—

Referring to the boy's case, the doctor said: Some five years before he came to the asylum I was sent for by the boy's mother, who said that he had become paralysed. I went to see him, and found him in bed, very feverish. His mother said he had fainted on the way to school. To my surprise, on examining him I found him to be suffering from acute rheumatic fever. I said: "This did not come on suddenly." She said: "Oh, yes; he fainted going to school." After she had gone I questioned the boy and he admitted that he had been suffering for some time. "Oh, yes," he said; "but I was going for a scholarship, and I tried to walk to school." Rheumatic fever causes the most damnable agony, and is hardly bearable by an adult; and this boy tried to walk to school with that damnable pain, and to conceal it, because his one ambition was a scholarship.

Continuing, the doctor pointed out that these were extreme cases. The injury done to the thousands of others was apparent in impaired mental and bodily capacity, and in the case of women in weakly offspring or no offspring at all Spencer said: "Success in life depends more on energy than information"; and no system which sacrificed energy for in formation was good. In this life the physical underlay the mental, and the mental must not be temporarily developed at the expense of the physical. He would make some practical suggestions for a start. The syllabus should be greatly cut down; no child should be taught a lot of subjects at once. There should be teachers abreast of modern and fundamental requirements. Then were certain things which every teacher ought to do in physical examination of the children under his charge. For example, every child ought to be weighed at school at least every three months; if possible, every month. The children could weigh each other. In that way they would get to be proud of their physical condition, and ashamed of any falling away of it. From this examination the teacher would know when there was any great change in his children's weight, and would have to seek the cause. Then the eye of a teacher properly trained would notice in as instant the flagging interest, the changed expression of face, the jerky movements, or some of the many other signs which could apprise him that something was wrong. The doctor concluded by remarking that he had visited a kindergarten that day, and could not understand how they could fail to do good. The system was absolutely right, though they all recognised that with increased means' and facilities great improvements could be made.