Last year a conference on the physical welfare of school children was told by a woman principal: "Of course we need physicians to examine our children and to teach the parents, but many of us principals believe that our school curriculum and our school environment manufacture more physical defects in a month than all your physicians and nurses will correct in a year." At the same meeting the physical director of schools of New York City appealed eloquently for "biological engineers" at school, who would test the child's strength as building engineers are employed to test the strength of beams and foundations.[8] As explanation for the need of the then recently organized National School Hygiene Association, he elaborated the proposition that school requirements and school environment damage child health. "Ocular defects are in direct ratio to the length of time the pupil has attended school.... A desk that is too high may easily be the indirect agent for causing scoliosis, producing myopia or astigmatism.... Physically examine school children by all means, but do not fail to examine school desks."

[8] The Sanitation of Public Buildings, by William Paul Gerhard, contains a valuable discussion of how the school may avoid manufacturing physical defects.

Fifty schools in different parts of New York City were examined last year with especial reference to the factors likely to cause or to aggravate physical defects.[9] The results, tabulated and analyzed, prove that the woman principal was right; many schools are so built or so conducted, many school courses are so devised or so executed, that children are inevitably injured by the environment in which the compulsory education law forces them to spend their formative years.

[9] By Professor Lila V. North, Baltimore College for Women, for the New York Committee on the Physical Welfare of School Children, 105 East 22d Street, New York City.

One Of New York City'S Roof Playgrounds

Recently I noticed that our little office girl, so anæmic and nervous when she left school that we hesitated to employ her, was becoming rosy and spirited. The child herself explained the change: "I like it better. I have more money to spend. I get more outdoor exercise, and then, oh, the room is so much sunnier and there is more air and the people are all so nice!" And these were just the necessities which were lacking in the school from which she came. Moreover, it is a fair commentary on the school work and the school hygiene in too many of our towns and cities to-day. "I like it better" means that school work is not adapted to the dominant interests of the child, that the curriculum includes subjects remote from the needs and ambitions of the modern school child, and fails to include certain other subjects which it recognizes as useful and necessary, and therefore finds interesting. "I have more money to spend" means that this little girl was able to have certain things, like a warm, pretty dress, rubbers, or an occasional trolley ride, which she longed for and needed. "I get more outdoor exercise" means that there was no open-air playground for her school, that "setting up" exercises were forgotten, that recess was taken up in rushing home, eating lunch, and rushing back again, and that "after school" was filled up with "helping mother with the housework." "The office is so much sunnier and I get more air" accounts for the increase in vitality; and "the people are all so nice," for the happy expression and initiative which the undiscriminating discipline at school had crushed out.

Bone Tuberculosis Is One Of The Penalties For Dry Sweeping And Feather Dusters

For such unsanitary conditions crowded sections of great cities have no apologies to make to rural districts. A wealthy suburb recently learned that there was overcrowding in every class room, and that one school building was so unsanitary as to be a menace to the community. Unadjustable desks, dry sweeping, feather dusters, shiny blackboards, harassing discipline that wrecks nerves, excessive home study and subjects that bore, are not peculiar to great cities. In a little western town a competition between two self-governing brigades for merit points was determined by the amount of home study; looking back fifteen years, I can see that I was encouraging anæmic and overambitious children to rob themselves of play, sleep, and vitality. Many a rural school violates with impunity more laws of health than city factories are now permitted to transgress.