Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/195

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183
PHYSIOLOGICAL BASIS OF MENTAL CULTURE.

to mention, were it not so common, that a dog who bites a person maliciously is almost invariably killed, with the sole intention of rendering the human being secure from hydrophobia. A little reflection should convince those who entertain this foolish superstition, that, by killing the animal, they are depriving themselves of the only means of certainty as to its actual condition; for, if in the first vague stages of rabies, it must exhibit pronounced symptoms within a very few days, whereas, if it remain healthy, by no possibility can the person bitten suffer other consequences than those ensuing from an ordinary wound.

 

PHYSIOLOGICAL BASIS OF MENTAL CULTURE.[1]
By NATHAN ALLEN, M. D., LL. D.

IN the advancing knowledge of physiology it has been discovered that all mental culture should be based upon the brain—that education should be pursued in harmony with the laws of life and health, and that, where these are violated, the advantages of the former afford poor compensation. Formerly no attention, or scarcely any, was paid by school boards and teachers, in the matter of education, to the condition of the body or the development of the brain, and even at the present day very little is paid them, compared with what should be given to those great physical laws which underlie all mental culture. The lives of a multitude of children and youth are sacrificed every year in this Commonwealth by violating the laws of physiology and hygiene, through mistaken or wrong methods of mental training; besides, the constitution and health of a multitude of others are thus impaired or broken down for life. Nowhere else in society is a radical reform needed more than in our educational systems. Inasmuch as the laws of the body lie at the foundation of all proper culture, they should receive the first consideration. But, in educating the boy or girl, from the age of five to fifteen, how little attention is given to the growth and physical changes which necessarily occur at this most important period of life! The age of the child should be considered; the place of schooling, the hours of confinement and recreation, the number and kinds of studies, together with the modes of teaching, should all harmonize with physical laws—especially those of the brain.

The system or mode of treating, in education, all children as though their organizations were precisely alike, is based upon a false and unnatural theory. Great injury, in a variety of ways, results from this wrong treatment; in fact, injuries are thus inflicted upon the sensitive organizations and susceptible minds of young children, from which

  1. From "Medical Problems of the Day"—a Discourse before the Massachusetts Medical Society.