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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (Oct. 29, 1911)
Bee Magazine Page
CopyrlKht. 1911, by Amertcan-Fmimlner. Cirfat Brit!n WrM Ttricrvrd.
At Five Bsglnt
At 28 Takes Up
At 60 Is In His
At 5 a Student.
ICOL itoe I
At 12 He Enters
At 20 Does Bril
At 40 a Worn
Out Old Mai.
1 vJ :V I'- S lr . ... ' . a . . . . -- v ,
SJvliti! uiilfe vylfk- mvm
.tsjF.-n umin atrtm..ft t
5H CS ." w
Does the New System of Creating "Intant
Prodigies" Mean "Educational
rHE proper education of Vic child
is the paramount problem of to
day. Dr. Quy Putter Benton, the
recently inaugurated president of the
Vnivernity of Vermont rerc takes issue
radically with Professor Boris Sidis, of
Jlarvard University, whose system of
education has received world-wide no
tice through the entrance of hi thir
teen year old son 11 imam into Har
vard as an advanced student.
Professor Sidis begins the education
of the chila at the age, of three. His
ideas are quoted in part at the lefi hand
top of this page. Since the case of his son
became public many "infant prodigies," pro
duced by slight variations of the Sidis sys
tem have appeared. The most notable is a
girl, Winifred Stoner, of Pittsburg, who at
the age of thirteen compares with young
Sidis in learning. t
Does this early education of the child
cut one tnird of thcallottcd three score and
ten, making old men and women of them
at fortyt Dr. Benton says so, calling the
system "educational infanticide." His arti
cle upon the subject, uritten especially for
for this newspaper, follow s
By Dr. Guy Potter Benton
President of the University of Vermont.
EDUCATIONAL infanticide, aa I call It, la
a wicked crime against civilization.
I define educational infanticide as
the process of pushing maturity down into
infancy. It Is the intellectual forcing of chil
dren, just as plants in a hothouse are forced,
by being surrounded with the most ideal con
ditions. Their brains are encouraged to be
come unhealthily active. Their mental pow
ers are overtaxed. Their minds work overtime-
There have been cases of children who did
wonderful mental work at an early age. Be
fore they were six they were ablo to read
and write better than most grown folk. A
year or so. later they were delving into the
ancient Greek and Roman classics for light
reading. At the age when the normal child
is romping about his play they wore toying
with the Fourth Dimension.
That is what I call educational infanticide!
There are two possible ways of educating
the children of the age. The one method I
have called the "hothouse method." By that
method the child is "forced" and his bruin
is unhealthily stimulated. It undertakes
tasks too heavy at a too early age.
The other method is the one adapted to
the normal development of a man or woman.
Under this method the educational process
is not rapid. The child is led slowly along
the way it should go, Instead of being pushed
or Jerked up a path too steep for its feet to
negotiate without Injury.
My idea of a proper educational plan would
extend over a much, longer period than the
"hothouse" method could endure.
Too normal boy child begins to talk be
tween the ages of one and two years. He
begins to observe at once, and the next three
or four years are crammed with mental ac
quisitions. The human being learns more,
normally, between the first and fifth year of
Its existence than In all the later years of
its life. It acquires the art of speech. It
learns to walk. It learns to see clearly and
to understand the words of others, it acquires
a great mass of general knowledge of the
world in which its life is to be spout
This knowledge comes to the child, whether
its mind is fed with other information or not.
At this age the child mind is immensely re
ceptive. Its capabilities for assimilation are
immense- Hut they cannot be taxed to the
uunobt without being strained and weakened.
The normal child's mind hus about all it
ran do, in these years, without extra strain,
go, until the child is five years old, I should
teach it nothing and make little or no con
scious effort at its instruction.
In the normal child the fifth birthday marks
the point at which it is eafe and advisable to
begin instruction. The child is not yet ready
for strenuous mental work by any means. It
Is no more ready for higher mathematics
than at the age of two it was reudy to run u
hundred yards in ten seconds. Hut the capa
bilities for learning are latent, and the first
teachings should be elementary and simple.
If they are delayed, harm is done. If they
are begun too soon, much greater permanent
harm is done.
When the child is five years old, tt may
begin to learn the alphabet, to gain some
idea of the manner in which words are sym
bolised in written or printed characters. It
may. in short, begin to learn to reid and
Dr. Benton, on
That of Pro
fessor Boris Sidis on the
Left. "Educational In
fanticide!" Says Dr.
Benton, "A Bugaboo I"
il l . 7 J
njpi y W
Little Winifred Stoner, V 'j; f ,,,, iil l V' V "5 TW
the Pittsburgh Child lxV''4vt' ,V- ' 'If V I
Raised by the Boris t- -i,t'ArlW ' '"'VA ' i,,. M f II . ' V I1
Sides Method, Now a f v'' J'W III f ' Ml
Prodigy, but Whose tWWiMVm f '- ' yM V '
Life Will be Short- ff lHr4Wi,v i jtfltf&A ' ' . ' VII
it ' l" 'I
ft ( M
ill wiV jfp
rw i Vr, Jr t w.rj'itirr
.... . UiMWOT
The average child will do well to enter the
elementary schools when it la seven years
old. Uy that time, from association with Its
small playfellows, it has overcome the diffi
dence of the baby, and the entrance into a
new life In the schools Is not so abrupt.
The elementary school training should oc
cupy eight years, as It does in most places
at the present time. There should bo no at
tempt at short cuts or "double promotions"
during these elgfit years. The child should
learn leisurely at this period of its life. For
it is learning all the time, outside of school,
more than it learns In the classroom.
The high-school course of four years in the
proper length, and here again the child
ehould not be hurried- That is the first prin
ciple of a proper educational plan, in my
opinion. Leisurely acquisition of knowledge.
FurHiilng its studies in regular course, the
child Is ready for college at the age of eigh
teen or nineteen. By that time. In bnyj at
any rate, the change to college life, with the
usual separation from home ties, Ih a benefi
cial one. The boy is old enough to think for
htmself and to adjust himself gradually to
the changed surroundings of college.
The child will bt graduated from col
lege at the age of twenty-two or twen-
Willie Sidis, Raised by His Father's
Method, Who According to Dr.
Benton Will Bo Senile at 40.
ty-three. I say "the child" still, for the
normal person Is, and should be, an
infant until the age of twenty-five. t
After graduation from college the young
mnn Is ready to choose u profession or to
decide on bis life work. Hefore that time he
has uot been competent to do so. The pur
pose of a colligo education, to my way of
thinking, Is to enable a man to decide Intel
ligently what his life Is to be, In my ex
perience I have seen many Instances to sup
port this view. 1 have seen young men who
cunio to collece with tho idea that becautte
they hud fitted their homes with loctrlo
bells they had the makings of electrical en
gineers. It took the llrHt hitter taste of some
branch of higher mathematics to convince
them that they had mistaken their calling.
Then tin y were quick to petition for a change
In their elrctlvPB.
At the age of twenty-eight to thirty years
the youth lu ready ami able to tuk up his
life work. He Ih a wi-ll-bulunced, normal,
sane being, in the fullness of strength and
rendy for the work ahead of hliu.
Contrast this plan with the one urged hy
thorn who would rush a child into man's
cHtaie in ten or fifteen years.
At the ago of two, the child's mind Is
eager and acquisitive, but the play instinct
A year later it has been taught something
of how to think and has learned to read and
to write. The play instinct Is suppressed by
tho influence of the parent or teacher.
Another year sees the play instinct dor
mant, and the child tho intellectual equal of
a well-grown young man!
At bIx years old, tho play instinct Is hope
lessly dead. The child live only through
its brain. It Is a serious minded thing, whoso
sense of humor responds only to tho stilted
jokes of tho classio authors, or the pon
derous epigrams of Dr. Johnson and his
The body may be developed properly. The
child may he physically healthy. Hut the
brain Is overworked steadily!"
For a few years the effect will not appear.
The child will be a "prodigy." so oalled the
pride of Its parents and the admiration of
Its parents' friends
Then the body will begin to dwarf Itself
automatically. Physical effects will appear.
The abnormal brain will shine out through
the eyes, and In most esses the head will
be unusually developed.
Through the twenties, the child will
do wohderful things Intellectually.
Then come the thirties, and an in
evitable and practically universal decay
and aging of mind and body. . ;
t Death, insanity, or a loss of the brain's
powers surely follows!
The life is cut from the allotted three
score years and ten to a bare two-score.
The effect of child labor le familiar to every
one. It may be seen most frequently In Euro
pean cities. The streets are full of queer lit
tle figures with preternaturally grave faces,
old before their time. They are men when .
they should be playing around In someone's
back yard. When they ehould be men, a few
years later, they are most often mental and
It is the same way with too early
and too strenuous brain work. The
child can do it all right, Just as the
child laborer can tend the machine or
pick the slate from the coal, or drive
the mule team In the coal mine.
But the effect is sure to make itself
felt. The mind of the child becomes,
all too soon, the mind of a grown man.
And ten or twenty years later, when
the mind should be at its best, the
"hothouse" child is a mental wreck
and good for nothing.
I have said that to-day is the age of the
prepared man. The value of preparation la
seen every day. The slow and sure process
of education is the one that wins out in the
long run, every time. The list o men.H'hifl,.,
have accomplished great thing in thtilr
youth and have continued their accomplish,
meats through a lopg and worthy life is a
The age limit of efficiency has advanced
in this century. The men who controlled and
directed the destinies of this republlo in Its
early days wore usually within the fifties.
.'. few years ego Dr. Osier declared that a
man of sixty had arrived at th limit of uh
fulness. Hut now we see a man of sixty-five
appointed to the Supreme Court of the United
IStates, and many instances might be unuio
erated of perfect accomplishment reached
only after the age limit fixed by Dr. Osier
had been passed. '
The longer the period of Infancy is pro
tracted, the more efficient your man will be.
Stop the Crab! It's Fast Following the Lobster Into Oblivion!
By Rene Bache
WHAT is Broadway going to
do? The "lobster palaces,"
representing the hlghedt
gastronomic uplift of the metropolis,
are in danger.
What Is a lobster palace without
lobsters? One might reply that crabs
are an available ttubjt.tuta for tha
nobler and fast-dlsappeailng crusta
cean. For some time past, indeed,
chafing dish and other appetizing
preparations of crabs have been
commonly and acceptably served in
place of lobster at New York's moat
eipenklve hotels and restaurants.
Hut, aUi! wnat agonulng cry is
this that begins lo make iuelf
tieurd? The crft'j output, hitherto
ileomod unlimited and luextiaustl
i.Ie, is showing signs of rapid tiiuii
r.,;tion. It U liable much longer to
. t uid the tremendous drafts upon It
It Is the canning business that Is
mainly responsible for tho threat
ened d'eappearanre f tho "bHe"
ir:;b. For wine unknown reason,
the ar.luial breeds oii'y iu the lower
part of Chesapeake Hay, where all
'.he canneries nru situated. An In
quiry into the subject made by the
Fisheries bureau showed that a
slnKle canning establishment used
Komu hundreds of millions of crabs
in a year- nearly all of them egg
bearing females. As one result,
"soft" crabs are getting scarce, and
those which come to market are
It has been said that no other
water space of equal area In the
world produces so much food for
mankind as the Chesapeake, and,
If oysters be excepted, crabs are its
principal crop. Not oBly are vast
numbers, both soft and "hard
bucks," xent alive to distant points,
but tho "meats" ura put up In bulk
tor shipment to ail parts of the
country. Add to these items the
luiiiriretU r,( millions ueed annually
by canners, and It is not surprising
that crabs should be getting scarcer.
The situation, however, is unde
niably alarming. What is to be done
Hatch them artificially, says the
Fisheries Hureau. It Is the only
way to solve the problem- But,
fortunately, the business of hatch
ing lobsters for one reamm, bo
cause unlimited quantities of their
eggs are readily procurable. An
average ft-mulo lobster carries only
10,000 eggs, while tho mother crab
products 2.M)0,000 at a spawnlns,
her ova being no bigger than "ilu.-u"
shot, such as that used for Lining
Tims it Becm.s that a few thou
sand ftijialo t rabs, collertod at the
spawning treason n the lower Ches
apeake, would yield billions on bill
Ioiib of e;:ns, wh'ch (us tiia's id
ready mane have shown) run easily
be hatched in (.'las jars, such as
thoso employed for the incubation
of shad ck:i.
Ktatlons for the purpose could bo
estahlluhud at tuitablo points on the
shores of tho lower l'oti.inuc and
Chesapeake Hay, and as muny baby
crabs could be turned out as ininlit
be required to maintain the supply,
no niattor how great the draft upon
tho latter by the lobster pa'aces,
the enormous Western demand for
the llvo iced product In seaweed,
and the rrnsiiinptlon of "meats" in
bulk and In cans.
The blue Crab of America Which May Fellow the Lobster Into Extinction.
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