Now that is just the point—the answer to that question, “How is it possible?” So very few of us know how to do it, and if “how to keep rested though busy” were regularly taught in all schools in this country, so far from making the children self-conscious and over-careful of themselves, it would lay up in their brains ideas of plain common sense which would be stocked safely there for use when, as their lives grew more maturely busy, they would find the right habits formed, enabling them to keep busy and at the same time to keep quiet and rested. What a wonderful difference it would eventually make in the wholesomeness of the manners and customs of this entire nation. And that difference would come from giving the children now a half hour’s instruction in the plain common sense of keeping well rested, and in seeing that such instruction was entirely and only practical.
It has often seemed to me that the tendency of education in the present day is more toward giving information than it is in preparing the mind to receive and use interesting and useful information of all kinds: that is, in helping the mind to attract what it needs; to absorb what it attracts, and digest what it absorbs as thoroughly as any good healthy stomach ever digested the food it needed to supply the body with strength. The root of such cultivation, it seems to me, is in teaching the practical use and application of all that is studied. To be sure, there is much more of that than there was fifty years ago, but you have only to put to the test the minds of young graduates to see how much more of such work is needed, and how much more intelligent the training of the young mind may be, even now.
Take, for instance, the subject of ethics. How many boys and girls go home and are more useful in their families, more thoughtful and considerate for all about them, for their study of ethics in school? And yet the study of ethics has no other use than this. If the mind absorbed and digested the true principles of ethics, so that the heart felt moved to use them, it might—it probably would—make a great change in the lives of the boys and girls who studied it—a change that would surprise and delight their parents and friends.
If the science of keeping rested were given in schools in the way that, in most cases, the science of ethics seems to be given now, the idea of rest would lie in an indigestible lump on the minds of the students, and instead of being absorbed, digested and carried out in their daily lives, would be evaporated little by little into the air, or vomited off the mind in various jokes about it, and other expressions that would prove the children knew nothing of what they were being taught.
But again, I am glad to repeat—if instruction, practical instruction, were given every day in the schools on how to form the habit of keeping rested, it would have a wonderful effect upon the whole country, not to mention where in many individual cases it would actually prevent the breaking out of hereditary disease.