Read PART II: LESSON V of Parent and Child Vol. III.‚ Child Study and Training, free online book, by Mosiah Hall, on ReadCentral.com.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

Child Growth

1. Discuss the varying stages of child growth, their rapidity, the critical periods, etc.

2. Growth means waste. By what means does the body get rid of the waste that comes with growth and change?

3. What are some of the ill effects of keeping this waste in the system? Give your experiences and observations with children.

4. When is the child’s blood likely to be most loaded with the waste caused by growth? How can we best help the boy or girl to clear the system of this waste? What mistakes are we making in this vital matter?

5. What practical suggestions would you give to our parents, teachers, and communities to help them safeguard their children during dangerous periods, and keep their pioneer blood clean and pure?

THE ADOLESCENT BOY AND GIRL

GROWTH DURING THE HIGH SCHOOL AGE

Dr. John M. Tyler

The boy and the girl during adolescence have now attained their full height and practically their full weight, although the boy has a little to gain still; they are pretty well grown by this time. If I had to choose between two questions, the first might be, “Have you a good appetite?” but the second question I would ask is, “What is your lung capacity?” The lungs have increased very rapidly at fourteen to sixteen in the boy; in the girl the increase has been smaller and quite irregular. It ought to be more regular than it is, I am convinced. The heart has gained greatly in capacity. The arteries have expanded much less than the heart, and the result is that there is a much higher blood pressure than there has been at any time before. The brain has attained practically full size and weight. The addition now will be mainly in the very highest area, where the addition of fibres might make all the difference between the possibility of genius and the possibility of mediocrity. The sensory and the nervous areas are fully matured. The higher mental area and the higher mental power are now coming on to stay.

The boy, you will notice, at this stage begins to argue a great deal more than he ever did before. He wants to argue nearly every question. He likes the debating society. His idea of heaven, it seems to me, is a place where debating is indulged in. A goodly amount of exercise for those psychological and mental powers will do him no harm.

The mortality, or the death rate, is low, but the morbidity is increasing at this time, in the boy at least. Vigorous physical exercise is now needed. Ordinary play is not enough. Gymnastics also for the development and training of the hand and the wrist, training in quickness and precision of movement are all excellent exercise, all the finer muscles should be trained now, and probably less training should be given to the heavy fundamental muscles which are all important in childhood.

Athletics are exceedingly useful. They should be, however, for all, and not merely for a few who join the teams, who need them the very least of all. I think our modern college athletics will some day be looked upon as one of the most ridiculous habits of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. That twenty-two men should engage in mortal combat, with anywhere from one to twenty thousand on the side lines, if you can get anything more ridiculous than that, I should like to know where you can find it. Athletics should not be too severe, however, yet, the boy ought not to have century runs and long halves of football, especially if the heart is still weak. The tissues of the body have not yet gained the toughness that they will gain at a later time. Every commander in the field dreads to have boys of eighteen, nineteen, or twenty sent to him, because, as Napoleon said of his young recruits, “they die off like flies.” The hard bed, with light covering, the cold room, the cold bath will now aid in toughening the boy, provided he is healthy; but under no circumstances begin that until the pubertal period is fully by.

The danger of over-pressure in the high school, especially after the first year, is to my mind not very great. The boy and the girl now both stand a good deal of work; but the greatest danger for the boy and the girl in the high school is that they will take too much social enjoyment. An evening theatre party, followed by a supper, a late dance, will take more strength out of a boy and girl than three days of study. There is nothing that is so wearing. If you can keep down the social over-pressure, I do not believe the over-pressure from study will do any great harm in high schools.

The larger bodies, the large heart and lungs, well oxygenated blood, and fresh vitality of every artery and tissue, gives a buoyance, a strength and a courage, a source of power and sense of it too, a longing for complete freedom, a revolt against all control, which the boy will never feel later; if he does not feel it now. I am describing, perhaps, rather the college boy than the high school boy; but bear this in mind, that I am describing what your boys in the high school will be a year or two later if they are not that now, and it is for this stage you must prepare them, even, if they have not already entered upon it.

A new, wide world, just as fresh as on the morning of creation, a new fire, a life of boundless opportunity, which is endless in scope and time, are opening out before the boy and the girl. They see the parents and the teachers drag around, understanding, as they think, neither them nor life itself; and they are right to a certain extent. There is no doubt about that; we do not hold on to the vision of glory of this world and of this life which we had in youth as we ought to and as it is our duty to do. The boy and the girl criticize us fairly, when they think that we don’t appreciate this magnificent world in which we live.

When a man gets to be my age, while I suppose he probably has more humility, he comes to know and he comes to have a very cheerful, optimistic view of the world. He has made up his mind that the Lord does not intend to change the world a great deal anyhow, and, on the whole, he is very much content to leave it the way it is. That is not so with young people at all. The boy and the girl must learn and know all about it. That is one thing they are determined to do at the outset. The boy girds up his loins and he goes whither he will. He must taste of every experience for himself. He will meet joy and sorrow with the same frolicking, welcoming spirit. He has never been saddened by experience nor disillusioned by disappointment and failure. He will try all the knowledge of good and evil if it costs him Paradise.

Nature is loosening every leading string now and is getting him free to complete his own individual development and to forge his own character. We cannot stop him if we would. It is very lucky that we cannot. It is better that we should not stop him even if we could; nevertheless, he has very little self-knowledge and still less self-control. Impulses well up from changes going on within him or from stimuli which come to him from without. He does not understand them. He does not know where they come from. He does not know what they mean. He is ill-prepared to face them, and now he goes one way and now the other. He has just about as clear a conception of the value of time as a child has. He has not outgrown childhood in that respect. He cannot possibly play a waiting game. That is the last thing that he can do. If the sun shines to-day it is always going to be bright weather. If the maiden of his adoration frowns to-day, the sun will never shine again. He is either on the Delectable Mountain or in the Valley of Humiliation, and he is far more frequently in the latter than we think. He is rarely between the two, and he is not going to tell us when he is in the Valley of Humiliation, nor when he is on the top of the Delectable Mountain.

There is a reticence about him at this time which we should learn to respect and to reverence. I told you at the first meeting that Nature put the shell around the egg so we would keep our fingers out of it, and Nature puts that shell of reticence around the boy and the girl at that time so we will keep our blundering fingers out and leave them to solve their problems with their help and that of the good Lord who is watching over them.

Authority has little hold over him at this time, traditions none at all. The influence of early training which have rooted themselves in his very life are very powerful and they will hold him, and the Lord have mercy on the boy whose early traditions do not hold him at that time. Remember it is not his fault; that is a sad thought for us parents. We must take the responsibility for these defects in the early training of our children.

The boy is led by class and group feeling at this time. You take him at eight or ten and he is an admirable little fellow in many respects. He wants to play fair, and if the other fellow does not play fair he will smite him, just as Samson smote the Philistines, if he can, and that is the occasion of much friction. After a time there is danger that he will not play as fair as he did when he was younger, for a time at least, because he is swallowed up in the team, or the society, or the group, or the gang, whatever it may be, to which he belongs, and he will give himself body and soul to help that team to win. This has its bad side, a very bad side, I grant you. If you would understand the boy, every now and then you must study the psychology of the mob. But there is a very good side also, because he is generous to a fault. Now is the time in his life when he will go down with the team, and in order for the team to win he will make a play when you and I would hesitate to make it. We had better respect the boy. He is loyal to his leader and to his friends. It is the epoch of the heart, and out of the heart, remember, are the issues of life. He has a great deal more heart than he has head knowledge at this time, and I confess I rather like him for it.

You remember what Paul says to those knowledge-worshiping Corinthians as to knowledge: “It will vanish away; for we know in part.” Those of us who have lived more than half a century have seen nine-tenths of our knowledge vanish away in just that fashion because we knew in part. But, says Paul, there are some things that abide, and one of them is faith. That is never done away with; another is hope, and the third and sure abiding thing is love, which is three-thirds in the heart, and out of the heart are the issues of life; the heart is often wiser than the head. Do not under-value and never despise the value of the greatness of heart in the boy; for Great Heart is the only champion who ever killed Giant Despair.

The boy at this age is seeking for a king. He is very likely to be like old St. Christopher, he will serve the strongest if he can find him. Tides of religious feeling are sweeping in on him now; but if you want to convert him you must hold up before him no mediaeval example, but the great, magnificent, athletic life of that Divine Master who has been so often misrepresented to us.

He is a very lovable being, that boy is, at times. Oh, you are reverencing him to-day; well, then bear in mind that probably about the same time tomorrow morning you will be gripping for the scruff of his neck, and when you grip him, grip him hard, it is no time for half-way measures. Never hit a boy at that age with a switch. If you do you are lost. Either don’t hit at all or hit hard.

A great deal of the child still remains in him, his instability, for instance. He might well say of himself, “my name is legion.” In the remainder of his young life everything that is trifling and worthless all comes to the surface, just as it does in the fermenting liquor, the strong and sweet are all hidden below the froth. You cannot see it. You can very easily do him injustice. You must sympathize with him. Remember your own foolish youth when you were his age; remember your own blunders and then you will have a great patience with him and great admiration for him, because these blunders are not a great deal worse than they are. If you can’t do this, then leave him to Nature, for you cannot help him.

We found, during the years of puberty, a physical metamorphosis, when the body was all made over, and now, during those years of adolescence we have a mental metamorphosis that is just as complete as the physical metamorphosis. All things are becoming new. They have not become new yet, but they are becoming new; hence it must be a time of instability, of self-education, of the strange mixture of the very new and the very old, the bad and the good, of that which is passing away and which has passed away long ago, and that which has not yet come. Look a little deeper into him; you will find he has a pretty good primitive system of morality; it is a very primitive one, consisting mainly of loyalty to his friends. Treat him “square,” as he says, and fairly, and then you may purr and curb him just as you will.

Remember that tides of religious power and influence have been sweeping through him. The first one came probably at twelve, if we may trust our statistics; the second stronger, at fourteen, and then the third perhaps a good many don’t feel the first one or second the third perhaps at sixteen. The one which comes over him at sixteen will affect heart and intellect and will, and everything, and he will stay converted probably. If you convert him at twelve, he probably will fall from grace before he is fifteen. It is rather interesting to notice that those periods when his experiences are likely to be very deep and very strong, are the years when his chest girth is expanding the most rapidly. A very good bit of physiology or psychology or of anything else you choose to call it, to learn is this:

If you want to convert a man to religion, get plenty of good, fresh air into his body; you never can do it in an ill-ventilated room.

It is a period of seeing visions and of dreaming dreams; you know that, if you remember your boyhood and girlhood. Those dreams and visions are the most substantial things there are in his life or in yours or mine; for “where there is no vision the people perish.” Wendell Phillips used to say that “the power which overthrew slavery and hurled it to the ground was young men and young women dreaming dreams by patriots’ graves.” There is a good deal more than rhetoric in that statement. Endless possibilities are in these dreams and visions. It is a period of promise, of magnificent promise, which you and I as teachers are privileged to see afar off before they are even glimpsed by his parents and many of his friends.

The great question now is, Will the promise and the vision ever be realized, or will they fade out and disappear and leave him a Philistine? And lucky if he is not a brute, for the only brute in this world, my friends, is a degenerate man. When you hear a man say that he has cut his eye-teeth, and he has got rid of his dreams and his visions, then may the Lord have mercy on the soul of that man, because he is dead. The all-important question now is, Can you get that dream and that vision so burned into his memory, so blazing before his eyes, that he will never forget it and never lose sight of it, and win it if it costs him his life? Then you have educated him.

These visions are far more important than all of the science, even the biology, that a man can learn in college. It is the business of the parent and teacher at this time to bring to birth and to sturdy growth high aims, purposes, ideals, the whole spiritual life. Your business in early childhood is with the physical, because that is the important thing at that time, if you can build a very healthy little animal, you have done well; but during the high school age you must build the spiritual. If you don’t feel this, I cannot explain it to you; and if you don’t feel this within you, if it is all meaningless and mere noise, don’t you dare teach a high school, for you are not big enough nor deep enough to do that.

The great question, after all, is not how much learning have you been able to put into him, but how much of the finer ambitions, how much power, how deeply and strongly they hunger for the very best. An ounce of inspiration at this time is worth more than a pound or a ton of learning; I am no foe of learning, either. The high school is and will remain the people’s college. It is the only college that a great part of the people ever will know. Do not neglect that great fraction who are never going to get anything higher and beyond in order to put your time on those who are going on to colleges and universities. You must be the people’s support, and you may well thank fortune that it doesn’t seem to be nine-tenths of your business out here in the West to fit boys and girls for a college examination. If that ever threatens to become your business, then you withstand it and face it to the death, for there is nothing will ruin education faster than that; I know sorrowfully whereof I speak.

You remember in “Pilgrim’s Progress” that when Christian had left the Interpréter’s House, he strayed away and went down into the Valley of Humiliation, where he walked between the snares and was in danger of falling into many a pitfall; there he wandered through darkness; there he could not see the Delectable Mountains any more, and there he fought with Giant Apollyon for his life; but when Christian passed that way he did not find it half so bad by any means. He had a companion by the name of Great Heart, remember, and Great Heart said to him, “Do you know that the soil of this valley is probably the most fertile that the crow flies over?”

The Valley of Humiliation, my friends, stretches sharp and clear athwart the life of every man and woman between the Interpréter’s House of his early education and of his dreams and visions, and the Delectable Mountains, and we all have to depart to it whether we will or no, and it is the most fertile soil that the crow flies over, for in that Valley of Humiliation men’s muscles and nerves become steel, and man becomes the shadow of the great rock in the Weary Land, and through heartaches the man and the woman are made the soldiers and the choice heroes of Jéhovah Himself. It is into that Valley of Humiliation that the boy and the girl are going to go from school after they leave you, and you must fit them for it; many of you know well enough what it is and know what help they need.

You have read, all of you, a good many times probably, this marvelous passage from Isaiah: “They that trust in the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” I never thought what that meant until one morning in college chapel our president turned to us and said: “Most of you think that is an anti-climax,” and we would say: “Why, of course, for a man cannot fly like the eagle. He can walk down hill, what is the use talking about that walking down hill.” The old man shook his head and said: “No, no. Anybody can fly like an eagle in his imagination; when we are beginning any new work or any new study or anything new, we fly; but after a time we cannot fly any more, we come down to a run; and the man who wins out is not the man who can run, but the man who can ’walk and not faint,’ for that man has the endurance that we want.”

There was a time some years ago that has gone by too, thank fortune when we used to paraphrase things; that is, turn very good English into very bad English. You wish to have a boy or girl catch the spirit of the poem, do you not, to find in it inspiration and power, to find a beauty in life that never was on sea nor land? A sweet voice is a very excellent thing in a woman, and a very unusual thing in a man. The eye is not the grandest sense organ we have; the ear is the path-way to the heart, and that is what you want to understand. Did you ever try reading a beautiful poem or story aloud to your children at your fireside or to the class and put your very life’s blood into it? I remember some things that a little girl teacher in Massachusetts read to me a great many years ago, and there is a dent in my old heart still. Try it some day. They cannot understand the poem, but they feel it. It has gone deeper than the intellect. It has gone into the heart and through the heart, it has got hold of the will and it has transfigured the spirit and the whole being. In this way you are certainly teaching literature; nobody can deny that. You have awakened a new interest. You lead and inspire the adolescent to share your very best and highest enthusiasm. After you have done that a few times your pupils will demand the best; they won’t be content with anything poor.

The highest human thing in the end is character, and character is formed very early, very shortly before the boy leaves the high school. Just how it is formed I do not know, but I know one thing, that while I cannot tell anything about how successful a man will be intellectually in life from what he does in college, or, sometimes, I cannot tell very much about how large he will grow mentally, I know that boy will not rise very much higher morally than he stands in college when you send him there. If, then, he has secured a moral training and influence, I firmly believe he will stay so. If he does not come to us in that shape the probability is that he never will change for the good, but if he is filthy he will remain filthy still. His character is made very largely in the high school.

How can you reach it? I think you can reach it a good deal through literature. I do not see how anybody can read Mr. Hawthorne or Mr. Emerson, and not long to be a gentleman, and feel as if he would like to be worthy to kiss the hem of the garment of those literary gentlemen. You can read history. You can make history a dreary chronicle. You can learn of kings who never ought to have been born, and when they died, when they ought to have been dead fifty years before, and all the long list of battles fought which never ought to have been fought. You can make it just such a weary chronicle. You do not, nowadays, thank fortune; I have seen teachers that did. Or you can make that history the Eleventh Chapter of Hebrews, and you can write your own Eleventh Chapter of Hebrews, if you will, for that chapter never was intended to be finished; and if you cannot add to it with your pioneer history of those who fought their way across the plains here fifty or more years ago, then you are teaching history to mighty little effect to this generation here in Utah. The whole story is just this, if you can saturate your pupils with the character of just such men and women as that, then you have trained a generation of heroes and nobody can spoil them.

That is what, it seems to me, Mr. Martineau means in that dark passage, “We shall never have a proper system of education until we have a proper religion.” We are a good deal lacking in the study of the Bible nowadays. We go to it to prove the text, to “break the scales” of our adversaries, and for other purposes. I do not use it for that purpose myself. If you will read that old book until you can walk the street arm in arm with Gideon and David and Jepthah and old Samson, too, yes, heaven bless him, and Moses and Samuel, the prophets, then we are reading it to some purpose. Until you know them all as your best friends, you have not begun to read that book; for that is what it was intended for. The Bible is an advanced text book of biology, the science of life. If you will train your boys and girls to walk the streets and live with the heroes of the world, make them form an intimate friendship with them, then you have trained those boys and girls to be heroes themselves.

Did you ever try reading to them the defense which old Socrates makes, which Plato wrote down for us? I do not know whether Socrates ever said it, but it was worthy of him. Read it to your boys and girls some day. See what they say about the Apology. And read the Crito. Let them sit with Socrates in his prison there on the hillside and listen to his discussion, until, as he says, he hears the voice of the law ringing in his ears and he cannot hear anything else, and stays on to die. When the prison door is opened for him to walk out, provided he would walk out with dishonor, he will not go. Let them see the old hero die in Athens as the sun goes down. You have not only awakened a new interest, you have evoked a higher life, and that is what we are after, that is what you and I are here for, that is the only way in the end to beat the record. That is the essential power of great leaders, of great prophets, and of great teachers, and the seat of it is in their personality.

I don’t know what I am talking about there either, for personality defies analysis and it defies resistance. It leaps from soul to soul just like an infection. We hear a great deal about the infectiousness of bad things and people are always talking about infectious disease and of corrupting influences in the world and all that sort of thing. Do you suppose the Lord has made this world so that everything that is bad is contagious and everything that is good is not contagious? Are you going to slander the Lord like that? It is about time that we wake up to the fact that the real genuine article of goodness is a good deal more contagious than smallpox.

Heroism and hero-worship is the central thought of history from the time of Gideon to the time of Sheridan, and down to our present time. Virtue, we must remember, should strike just like electricity from a dynamo. You remember that was the continual word of that Great Master of ours. Someone in the crowd has touched me, Virtue has gone over into somebody else. Virtue has gone out of me; strength has gone out of me and gone over into somebody else. I am talking about something that I do not understand; but something that you will know. Have you never, at the close of the day, when you were tired, discouraged, wondered whether it is worth while to keep up the fight? When you had been knocked flat and were pretty sure you were out, and then you sat down for a little time by some strong man or strong woman, and probably they did not say a great deal to you. They were men and women of few words, and you did not say a great deal to them, but after a little it began to come upon you that come what would you would fight again? Courage had come into you. You do not know where it came from, or how it came in, but you borrowed it and you go on your way the stronger because of the infection from that strong man.

We must be healthy and strong and sympathetic. We must be a child with the child and a boy with the boy, and yet we must lead and not follow. We must be firm and patient and hopeful and courageous, and we must infect these boys and girls with the very best that we have in us and something that is a little better yet, and how are we going to get it? Why, we must be continually infected from others; that is the only way. I don’t care how big your reservoir is, your irrigation reservoir, if there isn’t a stream going into it, it is going to be empty sometime. Look out for the streams which come in from the hills and the heights of glory into your lives.

This is the glory of our life and our work. You are making the youth of the twentieth century, as I said to you, and you are doing something grander; for every bit of good that you give here in Utah will spread back to us in Massachusetts and you are moulding the race into conformity with that which is deepest and most permanent and most eternal in environment, and hence all the powers of Nature are on your side.

“We are two,” said Abbe Bacha to Mahomet, as they were plodding from Mecca to Medina. “No,” answered Mahomet, “We are three. God is with us.” We cast in our efforts with this grand tide of events which is sweeping on toward a better age and better race, and we cannot fail. Therefore, let us gird up our loins, be strong and of a very good courage; for, as I have said to you once before, you shall lead these little people into the land of hope and promise which the Lord swore unto their ancestors, their fathers, that He would surely give them.

GENERAL SUBJECT

The Adolescent, or High School Age

Read carefully the foregoing lecture on “Growth During the High School Age,” by Dr. Tyler, for all these succeeding lessons.