London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Islington 1861

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Islington, Parish of St Mary]

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Three persons over 90 years of age have died during the month, the
oldest being, I believe, the most aged member of the College of
Physicians: his age was 94 years.
Among the deaths registered was one of a young lady, aged 13 years,
from apoplexy, after only 17 hours illness. The attack was believed
to be induced by intense application to her studies at school. If you
refer to the 23rd number of these reports you will find a similar
occurrence recorded, but the subject was then a boy aged 13 years.
No good end can possibly be gained by overtaxing the mental powers
of children. They can but take in a limited amount of knowledge
however long the hours of study may be extended, and all overstraining
of the attention under the stimulus of competition at school should,
in the interests of a child's health and the ultimate result of the
teaching be resolutely discouraged by the parents. To impress
teachers or schoolmasters with the fact, that nothing but evil can arise
from the practice of overworking the mind of the young is a task I
regard as hopeless. Parents must take the matter into their own hands
and set their faces firmly against it. The amount of real useful
knowledge to be acquired at school is positively as nothing compared
with the mental training undergone; and to this, with the development
of a healthy frame of body, the acquisition of mere learning
should be regarded as strictly subordinate.
Medical Officer of Health.
Vestry Offices,
December 3rd, 1861.

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