Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/126

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116
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tees; fourteen, teachers of experience, and six, superintendents of schools. The Board requested that all the replies should be "based on personal observation." The question, "Is one sex more liable than the other to suffer in health from attendance on school?" was answered substantially as follows:

Females more liable than males, by 109
Males more liable than females, by 1
Both alike liable, by 81
Neither is in danger, by 4
Not in district schools, by 1
Not if both sexes exercise alike in the open air, by 1
Unable to answer, by 5

To the question, "Does the advent of puberty increase this liability?" the answers came:

Yes, by 120
No, by 12
Uncertain, by 9

Many of the correspondents accompanied their replies with comments which were mostly in the following strain:

"The female scholars are more susceptible to emotional influences, and if there be stimuli in school, appealing to pride and vanity, they are so emulous as to injure themselves."

Again: "This baleful result becomes very strikingly manifested as the girls approach the age of puberty. Under the abnormal conditions of the physical system produced by this cause, not only do the more emulous and studious girls suffer from the study which they evidently ought to intermit, but the ordinary and habitual task-work necessary to keep abreast of the studies is far too severe a draught on many constitutions."

Again: "This greater liability in the female is an established fact; and our State and local School Boards should at once take steps to modify our system of education in accordance with the fact, however great may be the change required."

From various communications received by Dr. Clarke with reference to the workings of co-education, we extract the following from that of D. H. Cochran, LL. D., the distinguished head of the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute, who had ten years' experience of co-education in the

New York State Normal School. Dr. Cochran says it had been observed that a large number of students who left the institution were unfitted for teaching by impaired health, so that Dr. Woolworth made an appeal to the commissioners "to send only such students to the school as possessed a sound physical organization. . . .

"Notwithstanding his earnest efforts, the evils of failing health on the part of our female pupils continued, and the consequent incapacity to discharge the duties for which the State was educating them. But the facts were hardly suspected until suggested accidentally, in 1866, and then the reports of Dr. Bailey, who had been consulted by a large number of the female pupils, and of a lady in the faculty of the school, revealed the astounding fact that, among about one hundred and eighty female pupils then in the school, there were over twenty cases in which the periodical functions peculiar to the sex had ceased for over two months, and that there was a much larger number of similar cases, less serious. Even then, the causes were attributed to stairs, bad ventilation, and recklessness of health, without suspicion that the evils were inherent in a system which imposed upon the female continuous labor, and in amount equal to that of the male, who was in many, and perhaps in the majority of cases, her intellectual inferior, but who was the inheritor of continuously rugged health. . . .

"The logic of facts, to which our eyes were so slowly, and I fear unwillingly, opened, finally led to a more elastic course, optional to the females. But, while this gave relief to a part of the pupils, it augmented the evils to others; for the more ambitious regarded the exemption from advanced mathematics as a reflection upon their intellectual ability, and persisted in taking the severer course in spite of the advice of their teachers. . . .

"This spirit was indicated in the remark of one of these pupils to a lady-teacher who was advising her to drop the mathematics of the senior year, on account of failing health. She said, 'I will do it, if it kills me.' We can hardly wonder that the teacher impatiently replied: 'If it killed you, perhaps it would not so much matter; but are you quite willing to impose upon your