True Education


Chapter 23—Recreation

There is a difference between recreation and amusement. Recreation, when true to its name, re-creation, tends to strengthen and build up. It provides refreshment for mind and body, and thus enables us to return with new vigor to the earnest work of life. Amusement, on the other hand, is pursued for the sake of pleasure and is often carried to excess. It absorbs the energies that are required for useful work and thus proves a hindrance to life’s true success. TEd 125.1

The whole body is designed for action, and unless the physical powers are kept in health by active exercise, the mental powers cannot long be used to their highest capacity. The physical inaction that seems almost inevitable in the schoolroom—together with other unhealthful conditions—makes it a trying place for children, especially for those of feeble constitution. Often the ventilation is insufficient. Ill-formed seats encourage unnatural positions, thus cramping the action of the lungs and the heart. Here little children have to spend from three to five hours a day, breathing air that may be infected with the germs of disease. No wonder that in the schoolroom the foundation of lifelong illness often is laid. TEd 125.2

The brain, the most delicate of all the physical organs, and from which the nervous energy of the whole system is derived, suffers the greatest injury. By being forced into premature or excessive activity, and this under unhealthful conditions, it is enfeebled, and often the evil results are permanent. TEd 125.3

Children should not be long confined indoors, nor should they be required to apply themselves closely to study until a good foundation has been laid for physical development. For the first eight or ten years of a child’s life the field or garden is the best schoolroom, the mother the best teacher, nature the best lesson book. Even when children are old enough to attend school, their health should be regarded as of greater importance than a knowledge of books. They should be surrounded with the conditions most favorable to both physical and mental growth. TEd 126.1

Children are not the only ones endangered by lack of air and exercise. In the higher as well as the lower schools these essentials to health are still too often neglected. Many students sit day after day in a poorly ventilated room bending over their books, their chest so contracted that they cannot take a full, deep breath. Their blood moves sluggishly, their feet cold, their head hot. The body not being sufficiently nourished, the muscles are weakened, and the whole system is enervated and diseased. Often such students become lifelong invalids. If they had pursued their studies under proper conditions, with regular exercise in the sunlight and open air, they might have come from school with increased physical as well as mental strength. TEd 126.2