Country nervousness, like city nervousness, is of three kinds: (1) that caused by defective nervous systems; (2) that resulting from physical defects other than defects of the nervous system, but reacting upon it; (3) that due to habit or to lack of self-control. Children who suffer from a defective nervous system should, in city schools, be segregated where they can have special care under constant medical supervision. Such children in schools too small for special classes should be given special treatment. Their parents should know that they have chorea, which is the same trouble as St. Vitus's Dance, although often existing in a degree too mild to attract attention. Special treatment does not mean that such children should be permitted to interfere with the school progress of other children. In many rural schools, where special privileges cannot be given children suffering with chorea without injury to other children, it would be a kindness to the unfortunates, to their parents, and to all other children, were the parents requested to keep such children at home.

Nervousness that results from removable physical defects—eye strain, adenoids, indigestion, earache—will be easily detected by physical examination, and easily corrected by removing the physical defect.

Preventable nervousness due to "habit" can be quite as serious in its effects upon the mind and health as the other two forms of nervousness. Twitching the face, biting the nails, wetting the lips, blinking the eyelids, continually toying with something, being in perpetual motion and never relaxing, always changing from one thing to the next, being forever on the rush, never accomplishing anything, are common faults of both teacher and pupil. We call them mannerisms or tricks of personality. They are readily imitated by children. I once knew a young lawyer who had started life as an oyster dealer, whose power of imitation helped to make him responsive to both helpful and harmful influences. After being at the same table for two weeks with a talented man whom he admired, he acquired the latter's habit of constantly twitching his shoulder and making certain gestures. These habits in turn quickly produced a nervousness that interfered with his power to reason straight.

Nervousness is often confused with aggressiveness, initiative, confidence. "Think twice before you jump, and perhaps you won't want to jump" is a very difficult rule to follow for any one whose bodily movements are not under perfect control.

It is said that the confusion of city life causes habits of nervousness. Unfortunately no one knows whether the city children or the country children have the highest percentage of nervousness. There is a general feeling that city life causes an unwholesome degree of activity, yet one finds that those people in the city who least notice the elevated railway are those whose windows it passes. City noises irritate those who come from the country, or the city man on returning to the city from the country, but a similar irritation is felt by the city-bred man on coming to the country. Mr. Dooley's description of a night in the country with the crickets and the mosquitoes and the early birds shows that it is the unusual noise rather than the volume or variety of noises that wreck nerves. At the time of the opening of the New York schools in 1907 a newspaper published an editorial on "Where can the city child study?" showing that in New York the curriculum, the schoolhouse, and the tenements are so crowded and so noisy that study is practically impossible. Lack of sleep, lack of a quiet place in which to study at school and at home, are causes for nervousness, whether these conditions are in the city or in the country. What evidence is there that the country curriculum is less crowded or country work better adjusted to the psychological and physiological age of the country pupil? The index is there; it should be read.

In breaking habits of nervousness the first step is to explain how easily habits are formed, why their effects may be serious, and how a little attention will correct them. When a habit loses its mystery it becomes unattractive. Children will take an interest in cooperating with each other and with the teacher in curing habits acquired either at home or at school. My pupils greatly enjoyed overcoming the habit of jumping or screaming after some sudden noise. I told them how, when a boy, my imagination had been very much impressed by one of Thackeray's characters, the last remnant of aristocratic traditions, almost a pauper, but possessing one attribute of nobility,—absolute self-control. When his house burned he stood with his ankles crossed, leaning on his cane, the only onlooker who was not excited. For months I imitated that pose, using sticks and rakes and fork handles. The result was that when I taught school, a scream, a broken desk, or unusual noise outside reminded me of my old aristocrat in time to prevent my muscles from jumping. In a very short time several fidgety and nervous girls and boys had learned to think twice and to relax before jumping.

One test of thorough relaxation in a dentist's chair proves the folly of tightening one's muscles. When in school or out the remedy for nervousness is relaxation. The discipline that prohibits a pupil from stretching or changing his posture or seat is as much to be condemned as that which flourishes the rod. It has been said of our schools that children are not worked to death but bored to death. Wherever a room must be stripped of all beauty and interest to induce concentration, wherever the greater part of the teacher's time must be spent in keeping order, there is confession either of inappropriateness of the present curriculum or of the failure of teacher and text-book to present subjects attractive to the pupils. Nervous habits will be inevitable until the pupil's attention is obtained through interest. Sustained interest will be impossible until teacher and pupil alike practice relaxation, not once a morning or twice a day, not during recess or lunch hour, but whenever relaxation is needed.

In overcoming nervousness of teacher and pupil, both must be interested in home causes as well as school causes of that nervousness. Time must be found to ask questions about those causes and to discuss means for removing them. Naturally it will be embarrassing for a very nervous teacher to discuss nervousness with children,—until after she has overcome her own lack of nerve stability. To help her or to compel her to learn the art of relaxation of bodily and of mental control is the duty and the privilege of the school physician, of her doctor, and of superintendent and trustees. The outside point of view is necessary, because of the peculiar fact that almost every nervous person believes that he has unusually good control over his nerves, just as a man in the midst of his anger will declare that he is cool and self-controlled. Had Robert Burns been thinking of the habit of nervousness he could not have thought of a better cure than when he wrote:

Oh wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursel's as ithers see us; It wad frae mony a blunder free us, And foolish notion.