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JOURNAL OF EDUCATION.
Diseases Incident to the Teacher's Profession.
IN presenting this subject, it should be stated that, strictly speaking, there are no diseases peculiar to teachers; those to which they are most subject, being almost equally prevalent among the members of the clerical and legal professions, public lecturers, and singers.
Teaching has of late years advanced to the dignity of a profession; yet even now a comparatively small number of those who engage in teaching adopt it as a permanent profession; by far the larger proportion regarding it as a means of temporary employment, by which they may secure money to prosecute their studies for some other pursuit, to which they purpose to devote their lives. The number of professional teachers is, we are glad to know, rapidly increasing; but in the past, it has been difficult to distinguish in any tables of vital statistics, between those who were permanently, and those who were temporarily engaged in it.
Still, from what facts can be gleaned from the tables of vital statistics in England and this country, we are forced to the conclusion that the teacher's profession is not unfavorable to longevity. The eminent English statistician, Thackrah, in his work on "The Effects of the Arts, Trades, and Professions, and of Civic States and Habits of Living on Health and Longevity" (London, 1832), though classing teachers with other professional men, testifies to their general healthfulness and longevity, except where they in dulged in excesses at the table. M. Brunaud, a French statistician,
took, at hazard, one hundred and fifty savans, half from the Acad. emy of Belles-Letters, and half from the Academy of Sciences, and nearly all engaged in active teaching, through the greater part of their adult lives, and found that the sum of years lived by them was 10,511, or an average of above 70 years each.
The vital statistics of Massachusetts, compiled by Dr. Edward Jarvis, show that in the five years 1852-57, the number of annual deaths to 100 living teachers was 1.39; while that of clergymen, everywhere as a class noted for longevity, was 1.25; of the legal profession, 2.01; of the medical profession, 2.03; and of agriculturists, 1.76. The mean age at death of those who had died during the fifteen years 1843-58, a slight fraction under thirty-nine years, does not militate against this view, although it may seem to do so; for in Massachusetts, as well as elsewhere in this country, the great majority of those engaged in teaching are under the age of fortyfive; very few, comparatively, remaining in the profession beyond that age, except college presidents and professors, who would generally be reckoned among the clergymen. Of course, the reputed deaths of teachers would occur only among those actively engaged in teaching; and their mean age at death would be necessarily lower than in professions which were not generally abandoned in middle life.
Isolated cases of longevity are not of great value, as indicating the healthfulness of a profession; yet when such cases are very numerous, as in the classes of retired military and naval officers and clergymen in Great Britain, they show at least that that profession is not incompatible with health and protracted life. These examples are abundant in the teacher's profession. The venerable Bishop Comenius, notwithstanding bitter persecutions and numerous perils by sea and land, was eighty years of age at his death. Pestalozzi, notwithstanding the many vicissitudes of his early life, passed his eightieth birthday; Fellenberg and Jacotot, active teachers till their death, both survived their seventieth year; and Father Girard, an eminent French teacher, whose system, a modified Pestalozzianism, is largely in vogue in France, died in 1850, after a life of active teaching, at the age of eighty-five. Oberlin was eighty-six; Joseph Lancaster, above seventy. Von Raumer, one of Pestalozzi's most eminent pupils and successors, died the last summer at the age of eighty-three. That our own country is not
behind the countries of Europe, in the venerable age of its teachers, a few examples will prove. Ezekiel Cheever, the paragon of Boston schoolmasters, died at the age of ninety-three. The venerable Doctor Dow, who for seventy years trained the youth of New London, Connecticut, was past ninety when he relinquished teaching. The venerable Doctor Eliphalet Nott,* though approaching his hundredth year, still retains the presidency of Union College; and Doctor Jeremiah Day, though, some years since, he retired from the active duties of the presidency of Yale, still lives, a hale old man, though in his ninety-fourth year. We might name also as among the teachers covered alike with years and honor, who have recently departed, Professor Benjamin Silliman, whose death occurred in his eighty-fifth year, after more than fifty years of active teaching; President Allen, whose intellectual vigor had hardly abated at the age of ninety; the accomplished Quincy, who, though in his later years he had withdrawn from the active life of the teacher, survived in health and vigor to be ninety-two. The eminent scholar and teacher so recently departed, Doctor Francis Wayland, died at the age of sixty-nine, not from disease incurred in teaching, but from extraordinary literary exertion, while suffering from a cold.
With such evidence before us, we cannot doubt that the teacher's career is compatible with longevity and good health.
This might, indeed, be expected. The conditions most favorable to health and long life, are: a sympathetic, regular, well-ordered life, with such employment as shall occupy, without overtasking, the brain; regular exercise in the open air, and sufficient excitement to the ambition or emulation of the subject, to prevent him from sinking into an apathetic condition. These conditions meet more fully in the teacher's profession, than in any other, with the possible exceptions, already noticed, of the clergymen of the Church of England, and the half-pay officers of higher grades in the British army and navy. And the writer is informed by eminent life assurers, that, ordinarily, a teacher is considered a better risk than a member of any other profession.
But while this view of the healthfulness of the teacher's profession will probably be new to some of those engaged in teaching, and may serve to encourage others to enter upon a teacher's life,
* Doctor Nott died on the 29th of January last.
it would be folly to suppose that teachers were exempt from sickness, or "the ills which flesh is heir to." Some enter upon their profession with an enfeebled body, or an hereditary predisposition to disease; and though, in some cases, this may be aggravated by their mode of life and duties, it would be manifestly unfair to attribute to the profession, that disease which existed, either openly or secretly, before their entrance upon it.
A very general impression prevails that teaching induces a tendency to brain disease, and especially to insanity; but there is good reason for believing the impression an erroneous one. On this subject, statistics are the best authority. In the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane, one of the largest and best managed institu tions of its kind in the world, there had been 2,292 male patients admitted in the 24 years, 1841-1864. Of these, only 36 were teachers, or 1.57 per cent.; the number of clergymen admitted during the same time was 25, or 1.09 per cent.; the number of physicians was 45, or about 2 per cent., and of lawyers 41, or 1.79 per cent. The instituit on being situated in the confines of Philadelphia, and by far the larger part of its patients coming from that city and its immediate vicinity, it is probable that the number of teachers in the district from which the patients were drawn, exceeded that of clergymen, and was fully equal to that of either lawyers or physicians. The number of male students admitted during the same time was 77, of whom 29 were students of medicine, law, or divinity. There were few of the trades or occupations, employing any considerable number of persons, which did not give a larger number of patients, although, from the comparatively high price of board, the number of laboring men or mechanics in its wards would be less than in the city or State institutions.
Acute brain disease, as inflammation of the brain or its enveloping membranes, a rare disease except in persons of irregular habits, is particularly rare among teachers; nor is apoplexy or paralysis common among them, though the latter is more frequent than the former. Paralysis is, however, in the larger number of cases, an hereditary disease, and is not traceable to any cause connected with the teacher's profession.
Nervous affections are to some extent incident to the profession, and especially to the female members of it. Some of these, the result of an unaccustomed weight of care and anxiety, acting upon