A boy without play means a father without a job. A boy without physical training means a father who drinks. When people have wholesome, well-disciplined bodies there will be less demand for narcotics as well as for medicines. On these three propositions enthusiasm has built arguments for city parks and playgrounds, for school gymnastics, and for temperance instruction. We have tried the remedies and now realize that too much was expected of them. Neither movement appreciated the mental and physical education of spontaneous games and play.

Like hygiene instruction, physical training was made compulsory by law in many states, and, like hygiene instruction, physical training had to yield to the pressure of subjects in which children are examined. At the outset both were based upon distorted psychology and physiology. Of late physical training has been revived "to correct defects of the school desk and to relieve the strain of too prolonged study periods." In New York grammar schools ten minutes a day for the lower grades, and thirty minutes a week for the higher grades, are set aside for physical training. With the exception of eighteen schools where apparatus is used, the exercise has been in the class rooms. It consists of what are known as "setting-up exercises,"—deep breathing and arm movements for two minutes between each study period, often forgotten until it is time to go home, when the children are tired and need it least. Many teachers so conduct these exercises that children keenly enjoy them.

Serviceable Relief From School Strain, But A Poor Substitute For Outdoor Play

Like hygiene instruction, physical training preceded physical examination. Generally speaking, it has not yet, either in schools or in colleges, been related to physical needs of the individual pupil. In fact, there is no guarantee that it is not in many schools working a positive injury on defective children or imposing a defective environment on healthy children. Formal exercises in cramped space, in ill-ventilated rooms, with tight belts and heavy shoes, are conceded to be pernicious. Formal exercises should never be given to any child without examination and prescription by a physician. Children with heart weakness, enlarged tonsils, adenoid growths, spinal curvature, uneven shoulders, are frequently seen doing exercises for which they are physically unfit, and which but serve to deplete further their already low vitality. Attention might be called to many a class engaged in breathing exercises when by actual count over half the boys were holding their mouths open. Special exercises are needed by children who show some marked defect like flat foot, flat chest, weak abdominal muscles, habitual constipation, uneven shoulders, spinal trouble, etc.

That no physical training should be provided for normal children is the belief of many leading trainers. This special training is useful to develop athletes or to correct defects. Like massage, osteopathy, or medicine, it should follow careful diagnosis. The time is coming when formal indoor gymnasium exercises for normal pupils or normal students will be considered an anomaly. There is all the difference in the world between physical development and what is called physical training. The test of physical development is not the hours spent upon a prescribed course of training, but the physical condition determined by examination. To be refused permission to substitute an hour's walk for an hour's indoor apparatus work is often an outrage upon health laws. Given a normal healthy body, plenty of space, and plenty of playtime, the spontaneous exercise which a child naturally chooses is what is really health sustaining and health giving.

Mere muscular development artificially obtained through the devices of a gymnasium is inferior to the mental and moral development produced by games and play in the open air. Eustace Miles, M.D., amateur tennis player of England, says:

I do not consider a mere athlete to be a really healthy man. He has no more right to be called a really healthy man than the foundations or scaffolding of a house have a right to be called a house. They become a good house, and, indeed, they are indispensable to a good house, but at present the good house exists only in potentiality.

The "healthy-mindedness" and "physical morality" which play and games foster rarely result from physical training as a business, at stated times, indoors, under class direction. It is too much like taking medicine. A certain breakfast food is said to have lost much of its popularity since advertised as a health food. When the National Playground Association was organized President Roosevelt cautioned its officers against too frequent use of the word "supervision" on the ground that supervision and direction were apt to defeat the very purpose of games and to stultify the play spirit. Is the little girl on the street who springs into a hornpipe or a jig to the tune of a hurdy-gurdy, or even the boy who runs before automobiles or trolley cars or under horses' noses, getting less physical education than those who play a round game in silence under the supervision of a teacher in the school basement, or who stretch their arms up and down to the tune of one, two, three, four, five, six? Who can doubt that the much-pitied child of the tenement playing with the contents of the ash can in the clothes yard or with baby brother on the fire escape is developing more originality, more lung power, and better arteries than the child of fortune who is led by the hand of a governess up and down Fifth Avenue.