Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/399

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385
KINDERGARTENS AND MANUAL TRAINING.

as an element in human development is again being discovered, it is interesting to find that the highest specimens of plain sewing, shown as "prize exhibits" in the public schools where sewing is taught, is a tiny pair of old-fashioned shirt sleeves, made with straight, doubled and stitched wristbands, gussets overhanded on and felled, and neat gathers, made by the formula "skip four, take up two," and "smoothed" secundem artem. The girl who never uses a needle till twelve years old can not become a facile seamstress. Every one is familiar with the early age at which professional acrobats commence the training of their children. There may be an inherited muscular aptitude, but the parents do not rely upon that to make their son into an "infant prodigy." No one needs be told that musical performers must get the music "into their fingers" before they are stiffened and full-grown. These persons illustrate best of all the subtle, inexplicable connection between brain and hand. What undivided attention does the neophyte give to the striking of each separate note on the piano. Those who have listened to much "practicing" know how tiresome it is, until by unremitting iteration and repetition there comes a day when, lo! the fingers glide over the keys, touching each minutest fraction of a note perfectly—each in obedience to its own nervous impulse—while perhaps the performer is answering your questions on an entirely irrelevant subject. Mozart had absorbed a knowledge of music by listening to the lessons given his sister Maria, and had undoubtedly experimented by himself till at four he played the piano with ease and expression; and his father having given him a small violin at six, he learned by himself how to play it, so that before he was seven he played his part in a trio, reading at sight without mistakes or hesitation. The musicians certainly know the value of manual training and give a fresh emphasis to the old adage "practice makes perfect." Rev. Dr. Parkhurst, in commenting on the accuracy of aim with which David's stone "smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead," an aim that presents itself to many minds as supernaturally aided, said: "But it wasn't Ms first stone; he had practiced while out there on the plains of Bethlehem watching his father's sheep, and the unerring shot was the legitimate result of long training."

There is another aspect in which the introduction of machinery needs to be considered by his country's well-wisher. In the Boston Conference on Manual Training, Colonel C. W. Larned, of West Point, said: "There are altogether too few men in the world who are skillful to do with their hands—not to talk, or to write, or to imitate—but to perform with skilled faculties; the eye of that much-traduced creature, the average man, is becoming more and more dull and indiscriminating, the hand increas-