Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/745

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

APRIL, 1887.


 

BRAIN-FORCING IN CHILDHOOD.[1]
By WILLIAM A. HAMMOND, M. D.

NOT very long ago a lady of this city brought her little daughter, twelve years of age, to see me professionally. The child was on her way to school, and had with her a large satchel full of books. She was pale, tall, and thin. The muscles of her face twitched convulsively, and she could not keep her hands and feet still. She was suffering from chorea, or St. Vitus's dance, and, in addition, had almost constant headache and other symptoms of nervous derangement. In the course of my examination I asked her to empty her satchel of the books it contained, and which, as she informed me, she had been studying that morning and the night before. This is the list:

1. An English grammar. 2. A scholar's companion. 3. An arithmetic. 4. A geography. 5. A history of the United States. 6. An elementary guide to astronomy. 7. A temperance physiology and hygiene (whatever that may be). 8. A method of learning French. 9. A French reading-book.

Nine in all—nine different subjects of knowledge which that poor child was required to study between the hours of three in the after-noon of one day and nine in the morning of the following day! Allowing one hour for dinner, half an hour for breakfast, an hour for undressing at night and dressing in the morning, an hour for going home and returning to school, and eight hours for sleep (and less than this will not suffice for a growing boy or girl—it had better be nine or ten), and we have six hours and a half left in which to study nine different branches of learning! Now, suppose either one of you ladies and gentlemen should retire to some quiet nook, and, with your well-developed and trained brains and experienced minds, should try to study nine unfamiliar subjects of knowledge in six hours and a half,

  1. An address delivered before the Nineteenth Century Club, January 25, 1887.