Sufferings of Little Children from Want of Accommodations at

Sufferings of Little Children from Want of Accommodations at School.

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One superintendent says, “But few of the schoolhouses are furnished with blinds or curtains to exclude the glare of the sun. Thus, children suffer great uneasiness, headaches, and often serious affections of the eyes. I have found many cases of weakness of eyes, approaching almost to blindness, caused by studying in such dazzling light.” Another states, that in most schoolhouses the desks are so high, as to compel the scholar to write in a half-standing, half-sitting attitude; while the seats for the smallest children are[42] often twice the proper height, sometimes a hemlock slab with legs at one end, and a log at the other. Many of the little ones have to be helped up on them, where they are in peril of life and limb from a fall. Here they are obliged to sit, day after day and week after week, between heaven and earth, “and in a frame of mind unfit for either place,” without anything to support either their backs or their feet. Those who would realize what distress this occasions, let them try sitting only one half hour on a table or sideboard, with back and feet unsupported, and see what suffering ensues. Another writes thus: “Sitting with the legs hanging over the edge of the seat presses the veins (which lie near the surface, and carry the blood to the heart), and thus retard its return, while the arteries, being deeper, carry the blood with its full force from the heart. Thus the veins become distended, numbness and pain follow, and sometimes permanent weakness is the result. Where children sit a long time without any support to their backs, the muscles that hold up the body become weary and weak, for no muscle can be too long contracted[43] without weakening it. In schools thus badly furnished, it will be seen that the children prefer the northern blasts out of doors to the sufferings they endure within, and come in unwillingly, with chilled bodies and checked perspiration. In some cases, parents provide comfortable chairs for their children, and then it is seen, that such stay but a short time out of doors, while those seated on such comfortless benches stay as long as they can. This shows one predisposing cause of the curvature of the spine, and distortion of the body and limbs. Is it any wonder that so many of our youth have round shoulders, and a stooping of the body through life?”
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Catharine Esther Beecher

Trailblazing American educator, advocated female education and kindergarten integration.

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