Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/341

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327
FEMALE EDUCATION.

one who hears me to keep in mind that the worst of such things are the exception. No process of attempted educational stimulation will do much harm to very many brains, fortunately as I think. Their inherent stability—which, by-the-way, parents and teachers will ignorantly call stupidity or want of application—sometimes preserves them from being forced into work inconsistent with their bent and capacity. Who does not know dozens of fine girls—capable, practical, intelligent, affectionate, lively—who never could be made scholars of, and yet who know more that will be useful to them than some of the first prize-women? They never ran any risk of suffering from over-education, their only risk was badly ventilated school-rooms and want of scope for play. It is very difficult, I know, to treat of the professional aspect of a question popularly without producing misconceptions. If a case of consumption from ill-ventilated school-rooms is referred to, many people jump to the conclusion that all girls are in danger of consumption. Nothing could be more absurd. The fact is that, if we and our families were thoroughly healthy in original constitution, the educationalists and their present over-enthusiastic methods would not hurt our daughters so very much, perhaps, at least permanently. Nature would call a halt with sufficient distinctness before much harm was done, and then the wondrous recuperative power of that time of life would soon put matters right again. It is because few persons nowadays have faultless constitutions, and few families are altogether free from tendencies to some disease or other, that one needs to be now more careful of the constitutions of the mothers of the next generation.

The first bodily defect to which I shall refer, as the result of over-stimulation of brain, is what we doctors call anæmia, or in other words bloodlessness. The girls look pale about the lips, and have no rosy cheeks. This is manifestly most common in school-girls. Any one can see it.

The next faulty bodily condition that may be caused by wrong methods of education is that of stunted growth. I have seen girls, the daughters of well-grown parents, who simply stopped growing too soon. They are more or less dwarfish specimens of their kind, this being caused, as I believe, by the vital and nervous force being appropriated by the mental part of the brain in learning its tasks, and by the conditions of life in the school-rooms not being good, the air bad, insufficient play-hours, no play-ground, no play-room, no walking in the fresh air and sunshine. I have seen other girls who grew tall enough, but wouldn't fatten. They remained thin and scrawny. Now, this is not what a woman should be at any age if it can be helped.

The next condition sometimes produced is best described by the word nervousness. That is a condition of mind and body in which there is want of stability and fixity, undue excitability, bodily restlessness, want of solidity and calmness of constitution, ungrounded fears,