THE school is a formal agency devised for the purpose of bringing the child into possession of the main body of our social inheritance—the treasures of knowledge and skill laboriously accumulated by many generations of ancestors. When these treasures were few and pertained mostly to the affairs of immediate self-preservation, there was little danger of overburdening the young in the process of their acquisition. The intricacy of present-day civilization, however, is constantly increasing the difficulties which must be met and overcome by all who are not to become playthings of complex social and industrial forces. The period of infancy has not lengthened in proportion to the increased educational demands upon it. The school year has been considerably extended and for the first time in the world's history attendance has been made generally obligatory.
That this situation involves certain physical dangers to the child is self-evident. Indeed, the charge of school overpressure has been made repeatedly for at least half a century, though it is only recently that investigations of scientific character have been directed to the problem. Some of these are here reviewed, in the hope that further researches in this important field may be stimulated.
The Effects of School Life upon Growth
Schmid-Monnard sought to ascertain the influence of school life upon growth by comparing the growth attained during the seventh year of life by children in school with that attained by children of the same age who had not entered school. The results, as shown in the following table, indicate that school entrance constitutes a shock to the nervous system of the child severe enough to retard growth (15).
|Growth in Weight
Expressed in Kg.
|Growth in Height
Expressed in cm.
|Pupils not attending school||2.2||1.9||7.4||5.6|
|Difference in favor of former||.7||.3||3.2||1.1|