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A BROADER MOTIVE FOR SCHOOL HYGIENE
BY WILLIAM H. ALLEN
Until quite recently the term school gress of School Hygiene, which met in hygiene stood for one idea, namely, London last August, gave a week to varcompulsory instruction in physiology and ious phases of the new hygiene. Even hygiene, more particularly in the evils of more direct and more continuous results alcohol and nicotine. In the near fut- are promised by the American Schoolure school hygiene will suggest practice, Hygiene Association, organized by a not precept; not class-room recitation by group of representative educators, physipupils, but control of school environ- cians, and social workers in May, 1907, ment by school authorities; not ideas to to secure for all schools of all states what be conveyed to the brain of the child, Dr. Luther H. Gulick so aptly terms but protection to be given to the child's "biological engineering." body. While it is true that heretofore New York first startled itself and the but a small number of men have seen the nation by the revelation of its school need of this new definition of school hy- physicians that over four hundred thougiene, those few men are now proceeding sand children now in the public schools with such thorough and skillful educa- are in need of medical, dental, and surtional methods, and with such profound gical attention, or better nourishment. conviction, that the school world is bound Later, it helped the nation by naming to respond to their leadership.
causes that exist everywhere, and remeThere are many evidences that the dies that are universally applicable. At time is ripe for recognizing as an im- a recent conference in New York City on portant factor in hygiene instruction the the physical welfare of school children, hygiene practiced at school by janitor a school principal declared that our preand teacher, and by curriculum and sent curriculum is manufacturing more building-makers. Chicago is enthusiastic physical defects every year than school over its Bureau for Child Study; Cleve- physicians and school nurses can correct. land over its Department of School To the surprise of the laymen present, Hygiene; Philadelphia, Memphis, and the school men were of one mind as to Utica over examinations for defective vis- the havoc wrought by school life upon ion; Detroit, Montclair, and the Oranges the physical and mental energy of the over their school nurses; and Massachu- child. We were told that eyes are weaksetts over its Medical Inspection Law. ened, if not ruined, by glazed paper, small Several hundred representatives of char- type, lines of wrong length, unsteady or ities and correction from all sections of dazzling light, or prolonged concentrathe United States and Canada, meeting tion. Dry sweeping fills the air with dust, at Minneapolis last June, gave special at- and combines with bad ventilation, lack · tention to the limitations of the present of water, and dust-raising physical exerhygiene.' The second International Con- cises, to supply conditions that favor the
growth of disease germs, more particu1 The Fiftieth Convention of the National
larly the tubercle bacilli. Seats and desks Education Association discussed the “Rational
deform the spine and hips, and cramp teaching of hygiene in the public schools,” and “How to make the theoretical teaching of
the lungs. Required home-study deprives school physiology of practical value for school
the child of play and sleep, and accentulife.”
ates the effects of harmful school environ
ment. Highly trained teachers explain the subjects are taught may be refused their composition of air in an atmosphere often proportion of school funds distributed more poisonous than that of the average by their state. While practical consideracity sweat-shop. Boys and girls unable to tions compel instruction in the three R's, breathe through the nose because of ade- the hygiene which we know is kept in the noids and enlarged tonsils are deprived schools, as it was put there, by a rare of recess for not being able to describe the combination of missionary zeal and pepassage that leads from the nose to the cuniary needs. Yet in spite of laws in windpipe and lungs. Children fortunate every state and territory, and in spite of enough to be physically able to meet the army of crusaders and publishers' school requirements are handicapped in agents ready at a moment's notice to their studies, and for that reason re- jump to the defense of these laws, physduced in industrial efficiency, because
ical defects and unhygienic living are they must march side by side with child- quite as common here as in countries ren suffering from removable physical where opposition to alcohol and tobacco defects.
is not strong enough to influence legislaThese physical needs are found, upon tion. What is even more alarming to investigation of thousands of homes by many of us who are trying to check althe New York Comunittee on Physical coholism and nicotinism, the per capita Welfare of School Children, to be due not consumption of tobacco and alcoholic so much to deficient income as to reme- preparations is increasing. diable defects at home, school, and fac- How far is our school hygiene respontory. Homes with comfortable standards sible for this paradoxical gap between of living and honor rolls of higher grades, our teaching and our practice? There American homes as well as Italian and will be many different answers to this Yiddish homes, furnish a goodly share question, but there can be little difference of children needing attention. The mere of opinion as to the possibility of securing statement of such facts in numbers so better health habits than we have yet large as those from New York City has obtained from the daily contact of five led teachers and parents throughout the hundred thousand teachers with the naUnited States to look about them, and to tion's children. Biological engineering realize that in families poor and well-to- can do much to discipline the child in do, in country as well as city, child-life habits antagonistic to excess of every kind has been neglected in spite of compulsory and to waste of vitality; a broader motive instruction in the laws of health.
for school instruction in hygiene can do If there is any country in the world much to fix indelibly in the mind the where such conditions should not have principles of healthy living and to make been permitted to exist so long without attractive the vitality and the efficiency being detected, it is our country, where that come only from health. state laws declare that whatever else is The chief purpose of school hygiene done with a child's time in school he shall has hitherto been, not to promote perbe taught hygiene and physiology. To sonal or community health, but to lessen these subjects alone is given right of way the use of alcohol and tobacco. To those for so many minutes per week, so many who drafted laws making hygiene compages per text-book, or so much of each pulsory, it seemed certain that boys and chapter; for failing to teach this subject girls would come to fear – if not to hate with the frequency prescribed by law – whiskey, beer, cigars, and cigarettes, teachers may be arrested, fined, and re- if told often enough through text-books moved from office; boards of education and by teachers that alcohol and nicotine, that fail to enforce state requirements as in whatever quantities, necessarily. deto the number of times per week these plete one's vitality, necessarily decrease
one's earning power, necessarily prevent both publishers and authors have been the highest personal success. Text-books trying of late to break away from the have been expected to present the point temptation to over-state. Several recent of view of those who in all sincerity be- text-books, in discussing the effects of lieve that alcohol and tobacco are chiefly alcohol and nicotine, draw more or less responsible for poverty, insanity, crime, clear lines between youth and maturity, sickness, incapacity, and wretchedness. and between occasional, or moderate, and No statement has been too strong, no excessive. But so strong is the temptation case too exceptional, to justify its use in besetting the author that one of the latest making an impression upon the child- and best books for older grades prints mind. When an author is told by law without qualification the following facts that he must give one-quarter of his space as to New York City : – to alcohol and tobacco, or that every chap
10.821 ter must close with a reference to the
133,749 effect of alcohol and tobacco upon the Expense of Police Department $10,199,206 organ or function discussed, we cannot in Police courts, jails, workhouses, fairness expect any greater scientific ac
$1,310,411 curacy or more judicial emphasis than Hospitals, asylums, and other
$4,754,380 from the modern history of which California stipulated, when still in her teens, The author does not say that the saloons that one-half the space should be given cause all the arrests and, single-handed, to the history of California. It is because fill the jails, workhouses, and hospitals. they are commissioned to tell the child He does say, however, that the bills for an unforgettable story that eight text- charity, hospital, asylum, reformatory, book writers relate:
and police would “shrivel up” if the “A baby was once killed by washing saloons were wiped out. its head with tobacco-water; a boy once The schoolboy able to read a misdrank some whiskey from a flask and statement is also able and apt to chaldied soon after; any drink that contains lenge its accuracy and sincerity if it does alcohol is a poison to hurt and at last to not ring true with his personal observakill; a boy who uses cigarettes is irre- tion. He reads in the papers, learns from sistibly led to a violation of the law; by parents or friends, and sees with his giving drinks such as root-beer to child- own eyes that his standards of success ren an appetite for alcohol may be cult- the family physician, bishop, priest, govivated; the flesh of these unfortunate ernor, president, philanthropist - use alpersons becoming saturated with alcohol coholic beverages and tobacco. He knows took fire upon being exposed to a flame of many police, hospital, and charity bills as of a lighted candle, or indeed without due to other causes than the saloon. He any external cause; nicotine stunts the sees that total abstainers have accidents, growth of the (young) body as a whole, succumb to fever, go insane, violate law. retards and weakens the nervous system, Physiological evidences before his eyes makes the user cross, peevish, and unfits differ from the physiological effects de him for the best society; a murderer was scribed by text-books. He does not take about to kill a baby and the little crea- the text-book seriously if it fails to teach ture looked up into his face and smiled; him to analyze and understand the dis'but,” he said, 'I drank a large glass of crepancies between its statements and the brandy and then I did n't care.'” life about him, if it fails to interpret to
The foregoing statements are taken him the environment and social needs from text-books now in use. Earlier and with which he must cope. more grotesque inaccuracies and extra- The teachers' attitude toward school vagances have not been quoted because hygiene is reflected in the reply of one
capable principal who is sufficiently in- alcohol is always a poison was not justiterested in the physical welfare of his fiable, in view of the great danger that his pupils to have every window open, to dispassionate statement of alleged scieninsist strictly upon personal cleanliness, tific truths would be misunderstood and and to make educational use of every undervalued by the child-mind. He asked, emergency such as a fever or trachoma “In what other study would you substiepidemic or a bruised knee. This prin- tute exaggeration for truth?” I have since cipal resents the law that forces teachers become convinced by my own experience to do special pleading, - to teach as that the truth itself about alcohol and solemn truths what they know to be only tobacco will prove more effectual than partly and occasionally true, to consume over-truth in promoting teetotalism and time on subjects to which they can devote in preventing the diseases due to excessneither their heart nor their educational ive use of alcohol and nicotine. efficiency. That this principal is not alone There is every reason to believe that in his attitude is proved by testimony the most extreme opponents of the saloon presented in the report of the Committee can be brought to support a method of of Fifty, and by the fact that school school hygiene that will tell the truth, hygiene is not given a department in and nothing but the truth, about alcohol the National Association of High School and tobacco, and at the same time furSuperintendents or the National Edu- ther the purpose for which school hycational Association. It is significant, giene is made compulsory. We can prove furthermore, that, in her list of Ethical that a subject vital to every individual, to Gains through Legislation, Mrs. Flor- every industry, and to every government, ence Kelly has not included any gains is now prevented from fulfilling its misfrom anti-alcohol, anti-tobacco instruc- sion, not by its enemies, but by its tion. How many teachers, principals, or friends. We can learn how the children of school trustees do you know who count our communities are affected by hygiene school hygiene among the chief priv- now taught. We can compel discussion ileges and duties of their schools ? of the facts, and action in accordance
What is the alternative to exaggeration ? with those facts. Without questioning Many would think it perilous to admit in the motive back of the particular texttext-books that a small percentage of books used by our schools, every one of drinkers are drunkards; that the use of us can learn for our community how big alcohol does not affect all persons in the that motive is, and how adequate or same way; that some organs are not inadequate is the method of executing it. perceptibly affected even when certain Alcohol and tobacco occupy but a other organs are seriously injured; that small share of the interest and attention fatty degeneration, hardened liver, de- of even those men and women by whom lirium tremens represent extreme cases, they are habitually used. Only a fraction where evil effects tend to concentrate on of life's ills are due to alcohol and tobacone organ; that many men drink and co. Alcoholism and nicotinism are themsmoke for a lifetime with physiological selves in many instances the result of soeffects that seem to be no more serious cial, industrial, and municipal condithan other men suffer from the regular tions that proper school hygiene would use of coffee and tea, or from irregular enable us to remove. Outside the texteating, insufficient sleep, or neglect of book and schoolroom a thousand influconstipation. Several years ago, after Pro- ences are at work to teach the social evils, fessor Atwater announced his opinion the waste of energy, and the unhappiness that under certain conditions alcohol was that always accompany the excessive use a food, not a poison, I asked him if the - and frequently result from the soslight inaccuracy of the statement that called moderate use of narcotics. Of
the many reasons for not drinking and pected sources. We find it infinitely easier not smoking, physiology gives those which to refuse alcohol and tobacco than to least interest and impress the child. avoid living and working conditions that Most of the direct physiological effects insidiously undermine our aversion to are in the majority of instances less seri- stimulants and narcotics. The reasons ous in themselves than the direct effects for avoiding alcohol and tobacco in the of over-eating, of eating irregularly, of interest of others are more numerous and combining milk with acids, of failing to more cogent than the reasons for avoidwalk on the sunny side of life. Were it ing them for one's own sake. The altruisnot for the social and industrial conse- tic reason for shunning narcotics cannot quences of drunkenness and nicotinism, be implanted in the child unless he sees it is doubtful if the most lurid picture of the evil of excess and selfishness wherever fatty degeneration, alcoholic consump- found, and unless he becomes thoroughly tion, hardened liver, yellow skin, inac- grounded in the life-relations and healthtive stomach-lining, would outweigh the relations to which he should adapt himpleasing-even though deceiving-sen- self. sation of alcoholic beverages and cigar- Failure to enforce health laws is a more ettes.
serious menace to health and morals than While physiology may be individual drunkenness or tobacco cancer. Unclean and self-centred, hygiene should be so- streets, unclean milk, congested tenecial and altruistic in its point of view. ments can do more harm than alcohol and The strong appeal to the child or man is tobacco, because in spite of the best intenthe effect upon his mother, his associates, tions they breed the physique that craves his employer, his wife, his children. Such alcohol and tobacco. Adenoids and determs as “extravagant,'
fective vision will injure a larger proporditure," "depleted vitality" should be tion of those afflicted than will beer and translated into terms of happiness and cigarettes, because they earlier and more pleasures denied, offenses committed, certainly substitute handicap for equal sickness and wretchedness caused by acts chance, discouragement for hope. The physiologically harmful. The vast major- foremost teachers already know these ity of us will avoid or stop using any propositions to be true. They are eager to thing that makes us offensive to those impart such knowledge to the child. They with whom we are most intimately asso- would welcome text-books enabling a ciated, and to those upon
pro- child to reason about working and living fessional and industrial promotion de- conditions. They would, if encouraged, pends. Children will profit from drill give their best educational ability to throughout their school days in the sci- explaining the relation of health to effience of avoiding offense and giving happi- ciency, earning power, and community ness; but unless the categories, acts that welfare. They would like to interest give offense and acts that give happiness, children in the social and industrial conare wide enough to include the main acts sequences of adenoids, enlarged tonsils, committed in the normal relation of son, eye-strain, ear-trouble, bad teeth, defectcompanion, employer, husband, father, ive lung capacity; to coöperate with the and citizen, those who set out to avoid family physician and health physician in alcohol and tobacco find themselves ill- enforcing sanitary regulations; to teach equipped to discharge the obligations of the need for hospital and dispensary in temperate, law-abiding citizens. Things country and suburban districts; to show do not happen as described in the text- children how to detect and remove the book. Other things not mentioned hinder elements in their school, home, and street progress and happiness. The enemies environment which are manufacturing that cause us trouble come from unex- physical and mental defects; to guard the