Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Fundamental Reforms Proposed

Fundamental Reforms Proposed.

We ought certainly to have :

1. Adequate open-air playgrounds for every school.

2. Proper provision for heating, ventilating, and lighting schools, and a supply of suitable furnishings (desks, forms, etc.). I have examined many schools, and find provision in the above directions to be for the most part extremely defective—entirely inadequate.

Nothing is more depressing and devitalising than the combined effects of cold and excessive pollution of air. When a bad from and bad desk are super added, we have accumulation of physical evils in school which it is hard for the pupil to bear up against.

3. The devotion of a reasonable time daily to open-air occupations and recreations, as compulsory parts of every school curriculum. This is necessary not only to ensure good bodily health, but in order to promote and perfect the structural growth of the whole organism, including the brain and spinal cord.

4. Restriction of the quantity of mental work (especially memorising of unimportant matters and excessive quantitative demands made in connection with arithmetic, mathematics, grammar, languages, etc.) imposed in and out of school; and the adoption of some recognised approximate standard for home lessons, so that parents may be able to form an idea as to what course they should pursue—how long pupils should be allowed to work on the average, etc.

5. Reduction in the number of subjects studied during any one term. The re-cognition of quality rather than quantity of work.

Due concentration of attention and clear thinking are impossible under the existing rush, hurry, and over-pressure. Our periodical examinations are obviously over-done, and are not satisfactory as tests of true assimilated knowledge and capability.

6. A proper adjustment of studies to meet the respective necessities and aptitudes of boys and girls, the future man or woman being always kept in view.

The subject of "Domestic Economics"—all that concerns the ability to do well everything connected with the home—is surely worthy of the practical attention it is receiving in Canada and the United States.

7. The safeguarding of pupils from mental or physical breakdowns by encouraging open-air games, by simple, practical instruction in elementary hygiene and the laws of life, and by careful adjustment of school burthens by competent teachers trained to detect almost intuitively the first signs of failure in body, mind, or spirits.

All pupils should be measured and weighed at regular intervals, and a proper register should be kept. In Berlin it has been shown conclusively that most children in the incipient stages of consumption continue to attend school (and must transmit the disease from one to another) without either parents or teachers having any suspicion that they are seriously ill. Loss of weight is the most valuable indicator we have of incipient phthisis, and should always put a teacher on his guard. A school doctor should be readily accessible in connection with all teaching establishments.

8. The removal of temptation to cram now held out in the form of scholarships. These might be granted in future on the certificates of responsible teachers, with-out the holding of special examinations, to those who most deserve them and whose parents could not afford the expense of

page 52
1. FOOD AIR (Without Air we Live Three Minutes) (Material for Building 1 WATER (Without Water we Live Three Days Sunlight & Warmth SOLIDS (Without Food we Live Three Weeks

Chart A.

Chart Bearing on Certain Reforms Proposed on Page 51.

The above chart is a copy of one prepared for a lecture on 'Health and Education.' It is intended to assist the mind to take in at a glance the leading factors bearing; on Education from the point of view of all-round healthy development. Of necessity, the classification is not strictly logical, and the headings overlap. The chart is intended to be merely suggestive, and will serve its purpose if it brings nearer home to anyone's realisation of the primary rights of hens and girls to pure air, sunlight and warmth; healthy and invigorating surroundings; recreation (re-creation); and normal rhythm and rest. None of these essentials receive adequate attention in our ordinary provisions for education, yet there is no single one of them that can be neglected without more or less gravely affecting the future of the individual and of the race. It is notorions that many of our schools are badly ventilated and warmed. Most people would admit on reflection that this [unclear: must] be injurious to the rising generation; but is the importance of establishing healthy regular habits at [unclear: school] generally recognised? Humanity has been set down in a rhythmical world, and sleep is the natural reaction from the activities of daylight. The recurrence of sleep every twenty-four hours is not an accident! Nor is the duration and rhythmical recurrence of any other function—the action of the heart, the breathing, the regular return of appetite, of desire for muscular effort or rest, etc.—accidental. The rhythms or regular [unclear: hatches] of life are intimate and essential parts of our being, and the more normally and firmly they can be established and built into the very structure of growing youth the more economically and perfectly will the organism respond to the highest demands made on it in after life. When we ignore these facts in the training of yours we set ourselves up to defy the primary law of Nature, and do a great wrong to those entrusted to our care. Superficial cram by excessive spurts is the worst training for the nervous system, and stunts the growth of body and mind. As Sir James Crighton Brow ne says : "The evils of brain foreingare most likely to show themselves under a system of cram or spurt teaching, with a view to a specific examination." Further, the habit of periodic excessive memorising is the worst training for practical life, where the exercise of thought and moderate daily regular work will be the first necessities. A normal rhythm for youth means the formation and maintenance of healthy, methodical, regular daily habits properly adapted and proportioned to the needs of both and mind—the times set aside for meals, recreation (re-creation), rest, sleep, etc., being [unclear: held,] as tar as possible, sacred from and inviolable by the exigencies of cram and examination or any other imposition.

page 53

higher education. Of course this or any other system needs safeguards, but the success of the principle as adopted in America, Japan, and Europe, shows the proper trend.

He attainment of transient mental supremacy by sacrifice of bodily needs and accomplishments should be entirely discountenanced, and any recognition of merit should take into account reasonable physical proficiency due allowance being made for delicate children

9. A properly organised and systematistd scheme "directed towards fitting pupils attending schools in certain localities for avocations specially related to the main occupations or industries of the districts—e.g., farming, gardening, fruit-growing, fishing, mining, and crafts or trades.

10. A broad, thorough training of all teachers in the fundamental requirements for educating youth to the best advantage in accordance with modern knowledge.

It seems 10 me that anyone might subscribe to these broad essentials, most of which receive scant attention at the present time, as desirable and more or less necessary for the future well-being of the individual and the race. Apart altogether from the positive advantages which would accrue from a strictly educational standpoint, I am confident that the resultant decrease in disease, degeneracy, and ineptitude would be important, practical and economic considerations for the colony.