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Educational Journal of Virginia.
Richmond, Va., February, 1885.
"Physical Ciroumstances of Education." The following directions for teachers were prepared by Superin.' tendent James Mac Alister, of Philadelphia, who used as the basis the treatment found in Currie's “Early and Infant Education," a book which, for the judicious treatment of every subject connected with the primary school, is unrivaled :
1. Duty of the Teacher.—" It is the first and constant duty of the primary school teacher to attend to the regulation of physical influences She has to deal with a large number of children of tender age, of different temperaments and degrees of health, keenly susceptible of external influence on their bodily frames, and liable to suffer from even slight irregularities. A disregard of the plainest laws of health in the school-room must, in the end, affect the health of the children; in the meantime it prevents them deriving any benefit from the work in which they are engaged. For her own sake, too, the teacher must be mindful of these laws. If she is depressed in spirits, not to say enfeebled in health, the whole school suffers. One day's work in a close room may not affect her much; but no constitution can resist the effect of a continuance of this over several years. It is in the fact that such influences operate almost imperceptibly that her danger lies. Let the sanitary state of her school-room then be her first thought when she enters it in the morning, and let her thoughts recur to this at the end of every lesson.”
2. Ventilation.—"First in order of importance is ventilation. The school must have a steady supply of fresh air throughout the day. The symptoms which indicate neglect of this are very plain. Perhaps the teacher may often be conscious of a dimness of eyesight, a giddiness of head, a general langour and drowsiness, which nothing can shake off, and for which she cannot well account; it is probable they are largely owing to her working in impure air. Many continue even to bear headaches, sickness, or sore throat, without ever sus. pecting that these are owing to the same cause. If such be the effect on the teacher, is it to be supposed that the children will escape? Their countenances and the tones of their voice are some index to the state of the school. And if the teacher will scrutinize these, as she should accustom herself to do, she will be kept from error in this matter. It is not enough that the air be fresh in the morning, or that the windows be opened and closed fitfully throughout the day, just as accident may direct her attention to the subject, or that there be one stereotyped degree of ventilation throughout the year. This is a matter that requires attention from hour to hour, and from day to day, according to wind and weather. An atmosphere which is fresh in the morning very soon becomes vitiated unless it is changed, and the teacher may not be conscious of its condition." Nothing but constant watchfulness will suffice to maintain the air in proper condition. During recess the windows should be opened, and the schoolroom thoroughly aired.
3. Temperature.—“Another important feature is the keeping up of a proper degree of temperature in the school-room. Both extremes of temperature must be avoided. If the temperature be kept habitually too high the children will become nervously sensitive of cold. At the same time the air may be fresh, and yet injuriously cold. Particularly are drafts to be avoided. As many schools are constructed, it is hardly possible to avoid these. A class should not stand immediately under an open window or behind a door.” A thermometer is provided for each school-room; it should be hung in the middle of the room, and examined by the teacher once an hour at least, while the heating apparatus is in operation. 68° Fahrenheit should be the maximum temperature of the school-room, although 70° is not objectionable during the first half hour of the session in very cold weather.
4. Light.—“The management of light is not so much attended to as it ought to be in schools. A dull, dingy room, in which the eye has to strain itself to discern objects, must depress the elasticity of children. On the other hand a body of bright light, streaming into the faces of a class, cannot but produce restlessness and inattention. If the windows are not well placed for the distribution of light, the teacher may perhaps modify their effects by regulating the state of the blinds. A primary school should be a light, cheerful place.” The best position for the pupils is where the light comes from the rear and left sides. The one position which should not be tolerated in any school-room is where the light comes from the front.