Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/26

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
16
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

at school the teacher may find him so restless that the question of keeping him in order so that he shall not disturb others is a matter of serious difficulty. So long as he can be kept in action things go well enough, but to keep this activity within conventional bounds is the problem.

Very often repressive measures that quite paralyze his nature are resorted to in order to adapt his organism to the environment instead of the reverse being attempted. It is forgotten too often that if this young creature were not active, even restless, impulsive, inattentive—i. e., ever ready to secure some new impression—he could not develop after Nature's plan. We are at the outset in possession of some principles by which to test our methods. So far as the soundest physiology and the most recent psychology go, there seems to be but one way to develop this boy's intellect, and that way is along the path that is clearly indicated—the development of the brain and at this period the senses to the fullest extent. Now, as this implies not only seeing, hearing, smelling, and tasting, but feeling in the widest signification of the term—i. e., the muscular as well as the cutaneous sense—we must not only permit of movements but develop them. Smelling and tasting are in human beings of subordinate importance. But vision, to a less degree hearing, and the compound musculo-cutaneous sense, are of vital moment in all sound development.

It is by the development of these senses, together with smell, that the lower animals attain that perfection which in all respects is not equaled by man. But in delicacy and co-ordination of muscular movements, in perfection of visual and auditory discrimination, man is far ahead of the rest of the animal creation. Color-vision and nice discrimination of tones and form are peculiar to man. The painter and the musician have a perfection in the one case of vision and in the other of hearing unknown to any other animal; indeed, only in a feeble measure realized by their fellow-men.

We recognize in the brain of man a motor area—i. e., a portion of the surface (cortex) indispensable for voluntary movements of the arm, leg, trunk, indeed for voluntary movements generally.

It is, however, found that if, owing to disease, the path of sensory impressions is interrupted or imperfect, accurate voluntary movements are impossible. A person affected in this way is not only incompetent to do the work of an artisan, but he can not co-ordinate or harmonize his muscular movements to any useful end; so that it is now clear that practically all movements are dependent on sensation; while, again, sensation is much curtailed in essential directions (musculo-cutaneous) if movements be not free, extensive, and accurate.