We see the result of all this overstrain in the prevalence of eye-diseases in India. Western countries set us a good example in the physical training of their boys, who leave school strong and healthy. I have heard in England that in the poorer schools the children are often inspected by a doctor so that any eye-disease or other defect is found out at once before it becomes serious. I wonder how many boys in India are called stupid merely because they are suffering from some eye or ear trouble.
Discrimination should also be shown in deciding the length of the waking and sleeping times. These vary, of course, with age and to some extent perhaps with temperament. No boy should have less than nine or ten hours of sleep; when growth ceases, eight hours would generally be enough. A boy grows most during his sleep, so that the time is not in the least wasted.
Few people realise how much a boy is affected by his surroundings, by the things on which his eyes are continually resting. The emotions and the mind are largely trained through the eye, and bare walls, or, still worse, ugly pictures are distinctly harmful. It is true that beautiful surroundings sometimes cost a little more than ugly ones, but the money is well spent. In some things only trouble is needed in choosing, for an ugly picture costs as much as a pretty one. Perfect cleanliness is also absolutely necessary, and teachers should be constantly on the watch to see that it is maintained. The Master said about the body: “Keep it strictly clean always; even from the minutest speck of dirt.” Both teachers and students should be very clean and neat in their dress, thus helping to preserve the general beauty of the school surroundings. In all these things careful discrimination is wanted.
If a boy is weak in a particular subject, or is not attracted by some subject which he is obliged to learn, a discriminating teacher will sometimes help him by suggesting to him to teach it to one who knows less than he does. The wish to help the younger boy will make the elder eager to learn more, and that which was a toil becomes a pleasure. A clever teacher will think of many such ways of helping his boys.
If discrimination has been shown, as suggested in a preceding paragraph, in choosing the best and most helpful boys for positions of trust, it will be easy to teach the younger boys to look up to and wish to please them. The wish to please a loved and admired elder is one of the strongest motives in a boy, and this should be used to encourage good conduct, instead of using punishment to drive boys away from what is bad. If the teacher can succeed in attracting this love and admiration to himself, he will remain a helper to his students long after they have become men. I have been told that the boys who were under Dr. Arnold at Rugby continued in after life to turn to him for advice in their troubles and perplexities.
We may perhaps add that discrimination is a most important qualification for those whose duty it is to choose the teachers. High character and the love-nature of which we have already spoken are absolutely necessary if the above suggestions are to be carried out.