We ought to have in every school five minutes, it would be better to have ten minutes, between school exercises, when the girls can walk up and down, chat with one another and get the blood out of the overloaded head and down into the cold feet. Better still, turn them out in the open air and let them run; that would be another blessing. Don’t keep the girls sitting too long at that period. Don’t let them sit with wet feet or skirts. That is just about as bad as getting smallpox. Teach them some of the sense which you ought to have if you haven’t.
I haven’t said a word for the boy, for this good reason: you can’t kill him if you try, thank the Lord. You can’t kill him if you try, not because he is so very tough; boys are not as tough as girls, physically; but you can’t kill them; because they won’t let you; but I am sorry to say, some few women teachers are killing off the future women. Again and again I have heard it said by the girls: “We can get along all right with Mr. So and So; we can get on the blind side of him all the time; we can fool him, but when we try to get around Miss So and So she puts it to us awfully, and in the neatest way, to get the work done.” Now, why the women can’t have a little mercy on the younger people is something I cannot understand at all.
And yet, while I haven’t said a word for the boy, ought we not to regard him a little? Now and then there is the ambitious boy, and then again there is your studious boy; there is your bookish boy; there is your shy boy who does not get into the games. He is the boy you should watch all the time. There is the boy who has become delicate and finicky, because he has been doddled at home. I hope you haven’t got so many of them here as we have in the East, but he is here and you must watch him, because his parents are doing everything in the world to spoil him. You must stand on the Lord’s side of him if you can, for these boys need your help. If you give a little excess of mercy, a little bit more physical vigor gained by this regime of open-air exercise and exercise between the school periods, you simply will be erring on the safe side and doing good to that girl and such boys, because on these years of metamorphosis depend the life and the happiness of the girl and the boy.
Perhaps you are getting ready for examinations. I want to tell you Nature has her examinations just as well as you do. Does not she examine the baby and see that baby can’t go on, and many babies do not go on. Then the death rate sinks; at eleven and twelve it is very low, very low, indeed, only perhaps two or three in a thousand, in many countries. Nature is giving them a chance to see whether they will get ready for the second examination. Right after or during puberty the death rate rises. At eighteen, nineteen and twenty, it has gone up. That is Nature’s second examination, to see whether that boy or girl is fit to send out into the world to take part in the great drama of life, and if she is conditioned at this time, then it means invalidism for two, three, four, five years, and if she is badly conditioned, it may mean death. When you are preparing those girls for the examination, do not forget your own examination, because it is coming on very fast.