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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Holidays as Antidotes

Holidays as Antidotes.

It goes without saying that the evil effects of over-pressure can be more or less mitigated by a well-spent holiday, but this fact does not excuse a faulty system of education, which has occupied itself in strenuously overworking the memory and damaging both mind and body for merely temporary ends. Indeed, nothing has served more effectually to convince me of the general need for lessening school pressure than the results which have followed in cases where I have had to advise parents to remove jaded pupils from school altogether for a period of three months or longer. In such cases we have to ensure not merely an open-air life for the victim; there should be pleasant companionship and occupation, with, if possible, plenty of healthy outlets for recreative energising as regards both work and play.

In some cases, however, even this is not enough. Boys and girls are brought under one's notice whose ideas of life have become so narrowed by being kept perpetually grinding at their books, and never having any other aspect of life presented to them, that when Holidays do come the only idea that- occurs to them is : "Now 1 have a fair chance of making some extra, headway"; and straightway they "return to their vomit."

The only cure that I know of for youths who have got into this pitiable state" is to enlist the aid of their parents or friends in presenting to them an entirely different aspect of life; to efface as far as possible the false ideals that have been formed, and to build up in them, for the time being, an ideal of life in which physical fitness and the mere joy of living occupy the first place. I have seen in young people so treated such change in body, mind, and spirit—such transfigurement—brought about by three months of judicious handling, in an atmosphere remote from school books, that I cannot, if I would, doubt the wisdom of the ancient6 in inveighing against the folly of ever negleoting the body and trying to develop the mind and spirit of growing youths as separate, independent entities.

I have dwelt at length on this aspect of the subject because there has arisen in Dunedin an evil tradition in regard tonight-work among High School pupils that needs to be stamped out. An intimate friend surprised me by his admissions as to the hours he worked when attending the Boys' High School. He has never since been able to break himself of a tendency to insomnia, and the bad habit of reading into the small hours of the morning.