The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Health Notes.

Edited by H. Laing Gordon, M. D.
Volume 10, 1899, pg. 739-741

Mind and Body.

One of the most interesting of the recent Conference papers appears in the September number of the Parents' Review. I refer to Miss Pennethorne's paper, entitled "P.N.E.U. Principles as Illustrated by Teaching." It might be studied with profit by those scoffers who ignorantly assert that the Union consists of faddists and theorists with no practical methods. Miss Pennethorne defined the ideal education as "the training of a generation of men and women who, if not the best, will at least be 'their best,' in short, a race which shall as nearly as can be, fulfil its possibilities in all its relationships with God, the world, and itself" "To do this," the speaker added, "the entire personality must be harmoniously developed."


In a paper setting forth the P.N.E.U. methods of attempting to realize this lofty ideal it is a little disappointing to find barely half a page devoted to bodily training. The impression is, no doubt unintentionally, conveyed that bodily development is a secondary matter, and is adequately provided for by "Swedish drill, military dumb-bell exercises, and the old Greek deftness and grace with the ball." But it is gratifying to find that good physique is considered "a great help to good character."


Some of us go further than this, and assert that if the ideal education is that which harmoniously develops the whole personality, the attainment and maintenance of physical well-being is as important as the development and maintenance of mental and moral well-being. In the words of a leading authority, "Brain nourishment is the product of an efficient digestion of food, appropriate in quantity and quality, of fresh air and exercise, and of ample sleep, for the nutrition of the brain takes place mainly during sleep."

The same authority (Dr. Dukes, of Rugby) lays stress upon the proper division of the child's day into hours of work, hours of play, and hours of sleep; and he insists that the division should be made with a due regard to the age of the pupil. He lays down certain rules and gives tables to serve as guides. I quote the tables here with the remark that while some boys and girls may require more sleep and be able for less work at the appointed age than is therein shown, there are none who require less sleep or ought to be allowed to do more work. The tables deserve the attention of both parents and teachers, and the proper number of hours for recreation and meals may be easily calculated from them.


Table of the Scale of Work.

Age. - - - - - - - - - - - - - Hours of Work per Week.
From 5 to 6 years - - - - - 6 hours
From 6 to 7 years - - - - - 9 hours
From 7 to 8 years - - - - - 12 hours
From 8 to 10 yrs - - - - - - 15 hours
From 10 to 12 yrs - - - - - 20 hours
From 12 to 14 yrs - - - - - 25 hours
From 14 to 15 yrs - - - - - 30 hours
From 15 to 16 yrs - - - - - 35 hours
From 16 to 17 yrs - - - - - 40 hours
From 17 to 18 yrs - - - - - 45 hours
From 18 to 19 yrs - - - - - 50 hours

In this scale should also be included any work assigned as punishment.


The Amount of Sleep required during Youth.

Age. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Hours of Sleep per Day.
Under 10 years - - - - - - - - 11 hours
Under 13 years - - - - - - - - 10 1/2 hours
Under 15 years - - - - - - - - 10 hours
Under 17 years - - - - - - - - 9 1/2 hours
Under 19 years - - - - - - - - 9 hours


As a matter of fact some schools cannot get on without Swedish drill, dumb-bell exercises, gymnastics, and the like. These methods must be employed to correct crooked backs and flat feet, the pallid, listless, sickly countenances, and other evils resulting, especially among girls, from faulty scholastic methods. "Swedish drill, military dumb-bell exercises and gymnastics" is also attractive to parents, and looks well on a prospectus. But happily in many schools attention is paid to real physical education, i.e., to games in the open air, games which exhilarate and invigorate, games entered into with abandonment, and from which the slightest suspicion of being anything more than games is entirely absent.


Swedish drill and dumb-bell exercises have but a secondary place in real physical education; with dancing (of which boys do not appear to have enough) they are well enough as adjuvants; but never should they form part of the school curriculum to the exclusion of out-of-door games. Furthermore, out-of-door recreation should be arranged both for boys and girls not only in great variety and with a due regard to age, but so as to prevent lounging and hanging about--recreation implies constant energetic action. And school children should always be medically examined as to their fitness for games on entering school, and be re-examined if any shirking of games or other sign of incapacity for them becomes manifest.


It is to be remembered that games properly organized and properly played not only stimulate and develop physical powers and indirectly the mental powers, but also take a large part in the formation of character, and "last but not least check morbid desires and sensations." With physical education regulated on the above lines, the value and results of such methods of mental education as are so ably expounded in the paper referred to in the first paragraph are greatly enhanced, and the amount of instruction absorbed by the pupil in the allotted time is greatly increased.


Games and out-of-door recreation are included in P.N.E.U. methods at the House of Education and elsewhere; and I have ventured thus to supplement Miss Pennethorne's paper in order to draw attention once more to that fact.

Typed by Erika, Feb. 2009; Proofread by LNL, Feb. 2024