Health is the first objective of education. It includes mental health as well as physical well-being. The pupil should achieve health by living a healthful life and by building up a sound system of health habits. These habits should be strengthened by growing knowledge and developing attitudes and ideals. The outcomes of the study of health may therefore be classified as Health Knowledge, Health Habits, Health Attitudes and Ideals.
It is not sufficient that the pupil have a fund of knowledge relating to health: knowledge concerning the human body and its functioning, knowledge of personal and community hygiene. One may have knowledge which does not function in behavior. Thus there are persons who know well the laws of health but do not observe them. One may know that there are evils that come from the use of alcohol, but may still be a drunkard. It is necessary to have health ideals, ideals of temperate living, ideals of bodily perfection. If the pupil is helped to develop these ideals of bodily perfection, the formation of the appropriate habits will be much easier and they will be more lasting. At the same time essential knowledge concerning health will be more readily be mastered and retained.
These observations apply with equal force to mental health and mental hygiene. It is also necessary in the matter of community hygiene to avoid actions which will produce unhealthful conditions and injure the health of others. This demands a measure of idealism which extends to considering the welfare of others equally with one's own. At this point the teaching of health becomes a part of Character Education.
MENTAL HEALTH AND CONFLICT SITUATIONS.
A conflict situation in the class-room affects the mental health of pupils. It may produce attitudes which result in life-long unhappiness. The following are teacher sources of antagonistic attitudes: partiality, sarcasm and ridicule, unnecessarily repressive discipline, bad temper and nervousness, poor scholarship or poor preparation ( resulting in loss of interest by the pupil ), lack of sympathy, nagging, lack of humour.
Some pupils, in an unsatisfactory class-room situation, when desires or personalities clash, avoid conflict in order to escape humiliation and defeat. This type of reaction is known as withdrawal. It is probably more serious than conflict. Withdrawal may take the forms of fearfulness, dreaminess, and suspiciousness.
Factors causing fearfulness are frequent punishment, ridicule and criticism, and teacher domineering.
Dreaminess may be due to the failure of the teaching to elicit interest, to lack of companionship, to feelings of inferiority, to poor health, to dissatifaction with life because of constant thwarting, and to fear of other persons. In the latter case the dreams are likely to consist of means of escaping from the judgment of these persons.
Suspiciousness grows out of the situations which have just been described. It is best cured by having children participate successfully in group activities.
Conflict and withdrawal, together with their undesirable after-effects, may be avoided by guarding against the conditions which bring them about. A pleasant and happy teacher, with kindliness and tact, in a school full of purposeful activity, will have little experience of conflict and withdrawal.
INTEGRATION WITH OTHER SUBJECTS.
Many of the topics and suggested units in Health occur also in the same grade in other subjects, especially in science and Social Studies. Food and Clothing are examples of this. In all such cases the teacher should not teach the same subjects as Health in a Health period, and at another time in a Social Studies period, but should fuse, unify, or integrate the topic. Much time can be saved in this way. In one-room rural schools, or in a classes containing more than one grade, classes may be combined for the study of topics common to more than one grade, care being taken not to combine the classes which mentally are too far apart. It is pointes out, however, that the pupils of different grades can co-operate easily in an activity, the different pupils participating each upon his own level, as pupils of different levels actually participate in their own out-of-school activities.
THE TIME FACTOR IN THE TEACHING OF HEALTH.
Health should be regarded not merely as a subject, but also as a programme. If all the topics and activities listed in the course were in separate Health lessons in the periods which appear in the time-table, or within the time allotment for the subject, the available time would be insufficient. Many points will arise incidentally. In other cases, as pointed out in different places in this programme, fusion of topics may be made within the Social Studies, Language, Science, Reading and other subjects. The making of a Health poster is, for example, both an Art and a Health activity. In the past, supplementary readers have been almost wholly literary readers. These have been, it is true, geography and history readers, but until recently these readers were little influenced by the researches in the psychology of reading. To-day there are Science and Health readers constructed upon the same psychological principles as the more typical literary readers. They employ the vocabularies employed for the more different grades. They are, moreover, especially good for the development of comprehension in reading, inasmuch as they present a content worthy of being read. Every school should be equipped with an adequate number of Health readers for all grades. Such readers may be used without hesitation as readers in reading lessons in place of supplementary readers of the literary type, and Science readers may also be employed in the same way. Thus two birds may be killed with the one stone. More provision will have been made for Health and Science teaching, meaningful material will have been provided for reading, and the pressure for time will have been eased. Moreover, as the readers recommended have been based on researchers as to the best content and the most approved teaching procedures teachers will receive through these readers illuminating suggestions as to teaching methods. Approved readers have been listed both in the Bibliography for Health and for Reading and Literature. They have been listed under the latter in order to intimate that they may be used in reading classes.
THE SCHOOL BUILDING AND SURROUNDING.
The condition of the school building and of its surroundings is important in the promotion of health. At the beginning of each year the teacher should examine their condition and defects should be corrected.
The following matters are important:-
The Schooling Building.- Is the building in good repair? Are screens provided? Is the heating plant satisfactory? ( A jacketed stove should be in every rural school in which a central heating plant is not provided.)
The Surroundings.- Are the playgrounds free from rubbish and well drained? Is there playground equipment? Are the grounds fenced? Have shade trees been provided?
The Toilets.- Is the condition of the toilets sanitary? Are they dry and well lighted? Is toilet paper provided?
The Class-room.- Is the school-room neat and in order? In what condition are the floors? Is the ventilation good? Is there a thermometer in the class-room? Is the window-space at least one-fifth of the area of the floor-space? Does the light come over the pupils' left shoulders? Are the window-shades in good repair so that they may be properly adjusted ? Are seats and desks adjusted to the height and size of pupils so as to permit good posture? If there is a drinking fountain, is it in good repair? If a water container or pail is used, is it covered and arranged so that the child does not dip his own cup into the container? If there is no fountain, has each child his own cup? Are basins provided for washing? Have pupils individual or paper towels? Is soap provided?
Beautification of the School and Grounds.-The beautification of the school building and grounds, the planting of shrubs and the like, especially if done as a group project, contribute to the development of both physical and mental health.
NECESSARY EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES FOR A NEW SCHOOL
-TO BE PURCHASED BY THE BOARD OF SCHOOL TRUSTEES.
1 Teacher's desk with good lock. 1 Dust-pan. 1 Teacher's chair. 1 Pail 1 Visitor's chair. 1 Quart of Ink. 1 Waste basket. 1 box Coloured Shoemaker's Pegs (For counting) 120 sq. ft. Hyloplate Blackboard with moulding and chalk trough. 1 pkg. Coloured Sticks (1,000 assorted lengths) 1 Blackboard Pointer 1 Broom. 1 box Coloured Chalk (half gross). 1 Therometer. 1 box White Chalk. 2 Wash-bowls. ½ doz. Blackboard Erasers. 1 Drinking-water Tank or Sanitary Fountain. 1 Globe, 12 inches. 1 Hand-bell. 5 lb. Harbutt's Plasticine. 1 First-aid Cabinet. Cupboard with lock. 1 Axe. Shelving for Library Books. 1 Flag-pole. Lineal and Liquid Measures.
NOTE.- Five wall-maps, pupils' desks, and a flag are supplied free by the Department of Education to rural schools. The desks should be screwed to the floor. A screen re-enforced with iron rods should be placed around the heater and raised about 6 inches from the floor.