The Health Reformer


September 1, 1873

Proper Education


I have been led to inquire, Must all that is valuable in our youth be sacrificed, in order that they may obtain an education at the schools? The constant strain upon the brain, while the muscles are inactive, enfeebles the nerves, and students have an almost uncontrollable desire for change and exciting amusements. After confinement to study several hours each day, they are, when released, nearly wild. Some have never been controlled at home. They have been left to follow inclination, and the restraint of the hours of study is, they think, a severe tax upon them; and not having anything to do after study hours, they are tempted to engage in mischief, for change. Their influence over other students is demoralizing. Those students who have had the benefits of religious teaching at home, and who are ignorant of the vices of society, frequently become the best acquainted with those whose minds have been cast in an inferior mold, and whose advantages for mental culture and religious training have been very limited. And they are in danger, by mingling in the society of this class, and in breathing an atmosphere that is not elevating, but tending to lower and degrade the morals, of sinking to the same low level as their companions. It is the delight of a large class of students, in their unemployed hours, to have a “scrape.” And very many of the young who leave their homes innocent and pure, by associations at school, become corrupted. HR September 1, 1873, par. 1

If there had been agricultural and manufacturing establishments in connection with our schools, and competent teachers had been employed to educate the youth in the different branches of study and labor, devoting a portion of each day to mental improvement, and a portion of the day to physical labor, there would now be a more elevated class of youth to come upon the stage of action, to have influence in molding society. The youth who would graduate at such institutions would many of them come forth with stability of character. They would have perseverance, fortitude, and courage to surmount obstacles, and principles that would enable them not to be swerved by wrong influence, however popular. HR September 1, 1873, par. 2

For young men, there should be establishments where they could learn different trades, which would bring into exercise their muscles as well as their mental powers. If the youth can have but a one-sided education, which is of the greatest consequence? the study of the sciences, with all the disadvantages to health and life? or the knowledge of labor for practical life? We unhesitatingly say, The latter. If one must be neglected, let it be the study of books. HR September 1, 1873, par. 3

Physical health is essential for the development of moral and true Christian character. Intellectual and spiritual development is dependent upon a healthful constitution. In our schools, physical labor, study, and recreation should be alternated, and excesses avoided. If temperance in eating, and all the habits of youth, are carefully guarded with this object in view, to preserve sound physical constitutions for future usefulness, with proper physical labor, the young could bear considerable mental taxation without injury. But with intellectual culture there should be equal improvement of the physical, that all the faculties of both mind and body may be equally balanced. HR September 1, 1873, par. 4

Those who combine useful physical labor with study have no use for the gymnasium. The benefits of physical labor in the open air have the advantage tenfold to that obtained within doors. The mechanic and the farmer may both labor hard, yet the farmer is the healthier of the two. Nothing short of nature's own sweet air will supply the demands of the system. We should consider that the organs of the body are not a lifeless mass, but the living, active instruments of the soul. HR September 1, 1873, par. 5

The old-fashioned farmer, a tiller of the soil, has no need of the gymnasium, for he has all kinds of movements without it. His gymnasium is not confined within walls. His movement room is in the open air. The canopy of heaven is its roof, the solid earth its floor. Here he plows, plants, and hoes. He sows and reaps. In haying, he has a change of movements, he mows and rakes, pitches and tumbles, lifts and loads, throws off and treads down, stows away, and goes through a great variety of movements, which would look nonsensical if his business did not demand all these maneuvers. HR September 1, 1873, par. 6

These various motions bring into action the bones, joints, muscles, sinews, and nerves of the body. His exercise makes full, deep, strong inhalations and exhalations necessary, which expand his lungs, purify the blood, sending the warm current of life bounding through arteries and veins. A farmer who is temperate in eating, drinking, and working, usually enjoys health. His tasks are pleasant to him. He has a good appetite. He sleeps well, and may be happy. HR September 1, 1873, par. 7

Contrast the active farmer with the student who neglects physical exercise. He bends over his table or desk, his chest is contracted, his lungs crowded. He does not take full, deep inspirations of air. He sits working his brain in a close room, his body as inactive as if he had no particular use for it. His blood moves sluggishly through his system. His feet are cold; his head is hot. How can such have health? It is not the taxation of study that is destroying the health of students; it is the disregard of nature's laws. Physical exercise is essential; this, the farmer gets, but the student does not. Let the taxation come upon the muscles in well-regulated physical labor, which will make the student breathe deep and full, taking into his lungs plenty of the pure, invigorating air of heaven, and he is a new being. HR September 1, 1873, par. 8

There should be experienced teachers to give lessons to young ladies in the mysteries of the kitchen. If mothers were what mothers used to be, the necessity would not be so great. Sensible mothers are wanted. A mother possessing good judgment, with force of character, with patience and decision, having skill fitted to train and mold the minds and characters of her children, is a great family blessing. If the destiny of the race is dependent upon the right kind of mothers, there are so few of the right stamp that the prospect is indeed discouraging. A knowledge of domestic duties is beyond all price to women. I have seen many families whose happiness was wrecked by the inefficiency of the wife and mother to superintend a household. In every situation in life, whether rich or poor, high or low, the knowledge of domestic labor is of the greatest advantage. In my travels, I see entire families suffering with sickness in consequence of poor cooking. Sweet, nice, healthful bread is seldom seen upon their tables. Yellow, saleratus biscuits and heavy, clammy bread are breaking down the digestive organs of tens of thousands. HR September 1, 1873, par. 9

Again I repeat, good, old-fashioned mothers are wanted. It is not as essential that our children should learn how to embroider and do fancy work as to learn how to sew, knit, mend, and cook the food for the family in a wholesome manner. HR September 1, 1873, par. 10

When a girl is nine or ten years old, she should be educated to take her regular share in household duties, as she is able, and to feel responsible for the manner in which she does it. HR September 1, 1873, par. 11

A father, when asked what he intended to do with his girls, replied; “I intend to apprentice them to their excellent mother, that they may learn the art of improving time, and be fitted to become wives, and mothers, and heads of families, and useful members of society.” HR September 1, 1873, par. 12

Washing clothes upon the old-fashioned rubbing board, sweeping, dusting, and a variety of duties in the kitchen and in the garden will be an excellent gymnasium for young ladies. This kind of useful labor will take the place of the croquet ground, of dancing, and other amusements which benefit no one. HR September 1, 1873, par. 13

From Arthur's Home Magazine, I clip the following: HR September 1, 1873, par. 14

“Two Kinds of Girls

“There are two kinds of girls; one is the kind that appears the best abroad, the girls that are good for parties, rides, visits, balls, &C., and whose chief delight is in such things; the other is the kind that appears best at home, and the girls that are useful and cheerful in the dining-room, and all the precincts of the home. They differ widely in character. One is often a torment at home; the other, a blessing. One is a moth, consuming everything about her; the other is a sunbeam, inspiring life and gladness all along her pathway. Now, it does not necessarily follow that there shall be two classes of girls. The right education will modify both a little, and unite their characters in one.” HR September 1, 1873, par. 15

It is not necessary that a thorough knowledge in household labor should dwarf the intellect. If the intellectual and physical powers are equally exercised, the mind will have greater strength. All the faculties, being equally exercised, become equally strong. The healthful activity of all the organs reacts upon the mind, and imparts to it its proper spring and strength. HR September 1, 1873, par. 16

In our schools should be departments for the purpose of educating young ladies to cut and make garments, to cook, and become informed in all the branches of physical labor, as well as in the sciences, that they may understand the practical duties of life. HR September 1, 1873, par. 17

E. G. W.