Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/201

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195
HELPS TO STUDYING

especially on a country scene, the curtain is unnecessary. The best situation is where there is a rather extensive view from the window, for then the student can from time to time rest his eyes, wearied by their short focus on the book, by letting them focus on the distance, the farther away the better, without there being any moving factors in the scene to particularly claim attention. Under these circumstances, his eyes being rested, but his attention not caught, the student's mind will often go back naturally to what he is studying, and will reflect on the points just learned. Given such a window, with such a view, and absence of unnecessary noise, and the student should do good work in daylight.

At night the conditions are very different. Artificial light must be used, and of what kind and how placed is all-important. The writer may have had limited experience in some of these regards, but the following are the results of his observation, and are given for what they are worth:

First, the illumination should not be general. The only matters concerned are the student and the book, and as the student will get his illumination from the book, it is only the proper lighting of the latter which is to be considered. A lighting scheme which lights the whole room is worse than useless, it is undesirable. The better the book is lighted and the more the rest of the room is in comparative darkness, the easier it is for the student to keep his attention fixed on the book and the less is he distracted by seeing the other things in the room. Is it not an old trick of the artist, to focus and hold the attention by a brilliantly-colored "center" (such as the child's face in Correggio's "Holy Night"), in the midst of an obscure back-ground? Therefore, applying common sense as well as artistic perception, illuminate the book to be studied as much as is necessary, and the rest of the room as little as is necessary. By so doing, concentration on the book is wonderfully assisted.

Second, place the light in front and preferably to the left. We are not here speaking of how to sit in an easy chair and read a novel most comfortably, with the light coming over one's shoulder; but we speak of the student with a book which needs mastering, probably with pencil in hand and a pad of paper alongside. Such requires the student sitting squarely at a table, with his paper and pencil ready for action. In this case, the light should be close, not over three feet away from the book, better at half that distance, so that practically only a small circle is illuminated, with the book nearly in its center. If placed directly in front, the glaze on the paper may easily interfere with reading; and if writing (with the right hand), placing the lamp to the right will be likewise annoying because of the reflection from the glaze. The best position is for the light to be to the left a few inches, as far forward as the top of the book or paper, and no higher than the eyes. A green