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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Signs of Distress

Signs of Distress.

There are half a dozen simple evidences of defect or undoes stress telling upon the pupil which the properly-trained teacher soon comes to detect almost unconsciously and without effort. The points to which attention should be directed may be learned from any one of a dozen books on education published during the last quarter of a century. My quotations have been mostly from what might almost, page 33 be described as classic authorities, lest it should be imagined that I was expecting of schoolmasters that they should put into practice to-day what had been shown to be necessary only yesterday.

The tasks are set by the school, and the community has a right to expect of the master that he shall take the trouble to satisfy himself whether the carrying out of the work prescribed is imposing an undue stress on the particular pupil or not. Every teacher is, or should be, an expert in the matter of simple evidences of defect or stress due to the conditions of education. Even where excessive homework is the main fault, the evidences of stress will show themselves during school hours just as much as in the home, and the teacher, not the parent, should be the more competent judge. The teacher is potentially an expert with ample opportunities for comparing healthy, vigorous children with those who are jaded and failing under the stress of over-study. Of course, no one can be an expert by intuition, and it is significant of the amount of attention that Mr Wilson has devoted to this branch of education that in spite of widespread evidences of the disastrous effects of over-pressure all around us, patent to the man in the street and scientifically demonstrated by Dr Lindo Ferguson, the rector admits that he has not specially remarked anything of the kind even among those working for examinations. This surely means one of two things—either that Mr Wilson's natural faculties of observation are not acute, or that he has not taken the trouble to cultivate them in the particular direction needed alike for the training of teachers and the safety of pupils.