Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/398

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quality of its yield." Five thousand persons are killed by steam power and machinery in England and Wales annually. Sir William Fairbairn says: "These deaths are mostly occasioned by the ignorance or clumsiness of the hands to whom machines were intrusted; occurring singly as they do, and making monotonously similar newspaper paragraphs, we become brutalized and fail to take in the enormity of the destruction." America could show no better record; it is as if ten times the number of persons who make up both Houses of Congress should be brought together and visibly blown to pieces, scalded, and crushed, by bodily clumsiness and defective training. In England, for lack of the kindergarten or infant school, fifteen hundred children are scalded or burned to death each year, and probably more in America.

What is manual training? It is the subjugation of the hand and arm (an appendage of the head) to the direction of the brain, so that they shall touch some definite point, or exert some definite measured force, in obedience to the will, at the exact instant desired.

When should it begin; and what are likely to be its effects on the common weal?

The human hand is, of all instruments, the most wonderful. Sixty years ago Sir Charles Bell, the great anatomist, who discovered that the nerve filaments of sensation are distinct from those of motion, wrote a volume on The Hand, its Mechanism and Endowments, as evincing Design. In the intervening years so much has been learned of the relation of the nervous elements to the muscular fibers which they animate and control, and so much of the effects of the interaction of the brain and hand in those processes which we call "reflex," that another and most interesting volume might now be written on the hand in these aspects. It has been definitely ascertained that there are certain limited areas of the brain which control and direct the motions of certain limbs and no other; and as in the production of certain definite motions—e. g., those used in sewing or piano-playing—this definite related area of the brain is called into exercise, why may not its repeatedly being aroused to action promote its growth and perfection as surely as exercise of the blacksmith's muscle causes its growth and the perfection of its finely compacted fibers?

But, speculations aside, experience proves that the education of the hand can be begun at three years in the kindergarten, so that the child, whose supple and growing fingers have been taught to move in definite directions for definite ends, has at six a long start in manual dexterity ahead of the child whose maturing joints have been neglected. Our great-grandmothers taught their daughters to make "fine shirts for papa," neatly and thoroughly, at what seems to us an incredibly early age; and now that the hand