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THE VERMONT SCHOOL JOURNAL. Vol. IV. MARCH, 1862. No. III. www
BY DIO LEWIS, M. D. It cannot have escaped the attention of observing persons, that laborers, who carry burthens on the head, are strikingly erect, and free from side to side shambling and other unseemly irregularities in their manner of walking.
In the Southern States of America and in various European Countries. I have been struck with the noble uprightness and carriage of even the commonest people if their occupation involved this necessity.
The numberless women who are engaged, in Southern Europe, in carrying huge buckets of water up the mountain sides to supply the villages situated above the springs, bear their great loads upon the head, and thus cultivate an attitude and gait which marks them wherever they are seen.
In our Southern states the negroes whose occupation is the “toting” of heavy weights about the plantations, lose that stooping, awkward gait characteristic of that unhappy people, and walk, whether bearing a load or not, with an equipoise and elasticity, which marks them among their fellows.
The physiologist would, a priori, from his knowledge of the peculiar stru&ture of the spine with its cartilages and muscles, have deduced the result under consideration.
Had such facts as I have deduced even escaped observation, the now thoughtful physiologist would inevitably be led to the conclusion that the exact perpendicularity, must result in an upright and well balanced carriage.
The general introduction into our schools of a daily exercise based on this physiological principle would provo invaluable ; besides it would involve but little expense or inconvenience.
The apparatus could be bung on nails about the walle, conveyed to the heads of the children in a moment, ani the marching done in the aisles among the desks or in the school yard.
To cultivate the muscles of the back most advanta: geously, and to secure with perpendicularity the greatest flexibility, it is important the pupils should walk in a variety of ways.
A great variety of steps is possible, but after a careful study of the dorsal muscles and their relations to the lower extremities, I have devised the following, which I think the best:
Hold the body erect, hips and shoulders thrown far back, and support the weight rather on the front part of the head.
In each of the modes of walking, now to be described, it is well to walk about 100 feet performing each one in the most extreme manner.
1st. Turn the toes inward. 2nd. Toes outward. 3d. Walk on the tips of the toes. 4th. On the heels. 5th. On the right heel and left toe. 7th. Walk on the bottoms of the feet without bending the knees. 8th. Bend the knees so as to walk while almost sitting on the heels. 9th. Bend the right leg so as to make a right angle at the knee, and holding it rigidly in this position walk, rising on the straight left leg at each step. 10th. Crook the left leg, and rise on the straight right leg at each step.
In my own Gymnasium I use many other steps, as for examplo, long strides alternately from side to side, and running on the tips of the toes, but the above ten are enough, and bring all the muscles into almost every variety of action.
Standing in classes and to the beat of the drum, or other mode of keeping time, all sit down on the heels and rise to the upright position, in the mean-time keeping the weight on the head well balanced is a very profitable exercise.
As to the weight for the head I have within a few years used many things. A bag of beans is good ; almost anything will do.
An oblong rounded board sixteen inches long, with a slight projection at the periphery on one side, and a projection of two inches on the other side, nearly the size of the head, and of course at some distance from the edge of the board, with the head piece padded with hair or cotton, is a thing I invented a long time ago. You can load the upper side with bean bags. This is the contrivance I used for some time.
Last year I had a cast iron crown made, which is thought to be perfect. The cut will give a good idea of it.
The manufacturer paints these crowns with much taste, so that they are exceedingly beautiful. Adjustable weights are fitted to the upper half of the inside so that they can be made light or heavy to suit the wearer. This is