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IMPORTANCE OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION.
By J. C. WARREN, M.D.
Delivered before the American Institute of Instruction, August, 1830.
When I had the honour of being invited to make some remarks at this meeting on the subject of physical education, I felt much hesitation in undertaking the task. This hesitation arose from the apprehension that professional occupations would render it impracticable for me to present the subject in such a form as to excite the interest it demands. Aware, however, that the course of my pursuits had put me in possession of facts having an important bearing on the present modes of education, and feeling anxious that these facts should be made known to instructors and parents, and others concerned in the management of the rising generation,-I felt myself called on to waive the consideration of the ob. jections to this labour, and to trust the results of my experience, in such a dress as I could afford to give them, to the candour of those to whom they were to be submitted.
Nature has destined that the physical and intellectual education of man should be conducted in very different modes. The culture of the mind requires the early, constant, and well-directed efforts of an artificial system. That of the physical faculties is fully effected by the powers of unassisted nature. All that she asks is, that
snowing the advantages of virtue, and the disadvantages of vice. A judicious selection will have the double effect of leading the child to a love of information. But again, we must urge upon the instructor, that nothing which is beyond its comprehension, or is incapable of explanation, should be presented. Every thing vague ought to be avoided. We should teach a child (whether it be by precept or by fictitious example) to do, or not to do, particular things such as not to practise falsehood or deceit, but to be sincere and open on all occasions : general admonitions as fo virtue and vice, doing right and doing wrong, &c., have little effect.
In the employment of the influence of affection, great prudence must be exercised, lest the feeling be deadened by too much use; or, on the other hand, lest the child be habituated to submit the judging power, which in after life is the main motive of action, to the less certain guidance of sympathy and affection uncontrolled by reason: both evils, though of an opposite character, may we think arise from the injudicious use of the principle of affection. We might also caution mothers against the constant reiteration of such phrases as the following: Don't do this ; be quiet ; let that alone; you are very naughty. The child soon comes to regard them as mere idle words, and often ceases even to hear them.
As implicit obedience is one of the first objects to be obtained, so no command should be given, the fulfilinent of which cannot be, and is not, insisted upon. The moment that evasion is found possible, it will be practised. There is no need of violence, no necessity for force, either in language or action; nothing but quiet, firm determination, until the command be obeyed; approbation or displeasure may follow in proportion to the resistance that has been offered. We repeat, that every child must be taught the utter hopelessness of having its own way, before strict discipline can be maintained. Still we should be careful not to let our commands be of that description which may encourage obstinacy and resistance. For example, if a child has not obeyed a certain command, it may often be better to inflict a positive punishment-such as confinement, or the deprivation of some little pleasure-than to make the punishment continue till the child has obeyed the command. If we make the child's punishment continue till he has done what he is ordered to do, there is danger, with some children, of a stubborn resistance. If we punish for disobedience to the command, the lesson will not be without its value; and if the punishment be repeated as often as the offence is committed, there is not much reason for doubting that the parent will finally be successful.
As there are various tempers to be contended with, so must the system vary with regard to each. Passion, obstinacy, fretfulness, sullenness, and timidity, are the chief varieties. With the first we should recommend summary punishment, and that of a somewhat harsh character: for instance, solitary confinement, or bodily restraint-such as limitation to so small a space that movement is difficult or uneasy; and the entire privation of the object which has caused the excitation for hours or days, according to the age of a child.
Obstinacy is often fostered, rather than checked, by opposition. Wherever it is possible, the parent must endeavour not to perceive the assumed ignorance or incapacity, which are the usual forms which obstinacy
takes in children. If they refuse to repeat a thing, say it over and over again yourself calmly, as if you were only anxious to remove their ignorance; if they refuse to do a thing, if it be practicable to move their limbs gently into the necessary action, do so, and let the matter end, never alluding to it at any subsequent period. If both these methods be unavailing, or not practicable, tie the hand behind the back, or attach it by a string to a hook in the wall, so as not to inflict pain, but merely so as to occasion inconvenience until the obstinate fit is over. But the child must never know that it is stubborn ; nor must it ever perceive that it has the power to disturb the serenity of its guardian.
Fretfulness generally proceeds from physical causes, and eventually becomes habitual. The evil is more easy to prevent than to remedy: a little extra attention to the amusements of the child so afflicted (for a great affliction it is) will do much. An increase of tenderness (we do not by this mean false indulgence), accompanied by a firm determination not to grant the object which is longed for, are perhaps the best checks.
Sullenness can only be repressed by the privation of all society, all sympathy, and all amusement. The delinquent must be practically taught, that, when under the influence of such feelings, he is unfit for communication with his fellows, and unworthy of their regard. Timidity is perhaps more a defect of character than of temper; and, what seems an anomaly, is generally accompanied by vanity. Shy men are usually conceited: it proceeds from a false view of one's self, and of others---of both persons and things. Encouragement must here be blended with particular attention to the reasoning faculties.
The influence of body over mind is too apparent to need comment, and yet how seldom is this fact considered and acted upon. Locke has wisely insisted upon the necessity of the formation of healthy habits, in order to ensure the success of education. Regularity is most essential, as far as regards the hours allotted to sleep and nourishment. The want of sufficient sleep during the day, especially in very young children, induces, besides many bodily defects, a restlessness and fretfulness which are unquestionably moral evils. Hunger or satiety will produce the same results. Undue exposure to cold destroys the energies of a child, and exposure to heat weakens them: a proper temperature is of eat importance. We insist upon these points here, because it is undeniable that they involve both the moral and intellectual education of the child. Exercises which call forth the free action of the limbs, also induce free action of the mental faculties. The animated laugh, the merry phrase, the childish imitation, are best heard and seen in the midst of active and healthful sport. Some persons restrict children in these matters, because they fear they may induce boisterous and vulgar habits of speech and manner. But this again depends upon the parent's superintendence. Mirth does not mean noise : exercise does not infer coarse actions. Nature shows incessant motion to be the means by which infants attain all their bodily and even their perceptive powers, and while youth lasts it cannot be unduly restrained without injury. Fresh air and exercise, judicious diet, and regular hours, are the best prescription which a mother can act upon to secure the bodily and mental health of her offspring.
When once a love of virtuous conduct has been instilled, and made habitual, the intellectual education