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case that it is my purpose to consider; and all that I may say hereafter is intended to apply to the education of the epileptic primarily as a colony resident, and afterward to him at large.
When we realize that one person in every five hundred of the population is an epileptic, and that 75 per cent. of all cases of epilepsy begin under twenty years of age, and that not more than six or eight persons in every hundred who have the disease get well, and that, unless especial pains be taken to correct the tendencies of the disease in early life, progressive mental and physical failure is sure to follow, we can appreciate the great value of a proper system of education for this class, especially when it serves to stay the disease. Not only do we educate; but, through education, we ameliorate and cure. For no other class of dependants is it possible to do these two things at the same time.
In educating and training epileptics, it is well to bear constantly in mind the infrequency of the cure of epilepsy, and that because of his disease the epileptic will be always an object of social and business distrust, and that, if he remains uneducated and unimproved, he will be an economic burden, so far as the cost of his care is concerned. The education he needs is one that will put, not complex algebraic formulas and a mass of ill-defined and useless knowledge of the dead languages and ancient history into his brain, but an education that puts an instrument into his hands that will give him a practical result in the form of his daily bread.
I do not decry collegiate and scientific education. There are plenty who need them and can use them, but the epileptic is not among them. Brain processes for him must be simplified to the greatest possible degree; and his hands must be employed in daily, useful, helpful, saving manual labor.
How well the value of labor is understood at the great colony for epileptics at Bielefeld in Germany! It is exemplified in the great diversity of industrial teaching that is going on there to-day in the name of charity. Julie Sutter, in "A Colony of Mercy," wrote of Bethel Colony, "The most striking feature of this colony of sick folk is its capacity for work: the place is a hive, indeed, and as busy as a hive." And that is true, as I can testify from a two 'weeks' residence at the Colony, spent in intimate contact with the daily life of its inhabitants.
At Bielefeld one is confronted by a board sign nailed on the
corner of a building. It reads "Workshop Street." street, and walk into the first house on the corner.
Turn into this
It is the carpen
ter shop, and forty epileptics are daily employed here. In twelve months seven new houses, large enough to hold twenty persons each, were put up in the Colony; and all the wood-work for them was done by these epileptic carpenters. They made, besides, an endless number and assortment of chairs, tables, and bedsteads, enough to supply the entire Colony.
In one household a boy with a paralyzed arm blacked the boots of an entire household, holding the boots between his knees. learn how to do that was his education. It was as far as he could go, the best he could do; but, having learned it, he does it constantly, and does it well. He could not have learned Greek or Latin, nor could he have become a teacher, a musician, a sculptor, or a painter; but there was something useful he could learn to do, and he learned it and did it, and so earned a place in the industrial life of the Colony.
In every department there was the same display of systematic productive and useful energy; and what has it done for them? has cured six times as many as are cured under any other system or form of treatment, and so greatly benefited from 40 to 60 per cent. more, after three to five years' treatment, that many of them are able to go back to their homes and take up their former vocations. Did labor alone do it all? No, not all: proper food, proper habits, proper environments, helped; but labor was the keystone in the regenerative arch. Under its influence Bethel Colony produces
the maximum of cures with the minimum of cost. There are no secret remedies, no all-healing drugs, no sacred charms. Physiological and moral reasons fully explain the means that accomplish the end.
It has been our aim since the opening of the Craig Colony to profit by the lesson Bielefeld has learned so well; and, while the Craig Colony has been in existence for a comparatively short period of time, our experience has been such as to demand from us a warm indorsement of the Bielefeld methods.
The difficulties we encountered arose in consequence of having to deal with a rapidly increasing number of recruits under colony conditions not yet perfected in any department.
The first 150 patients came from county alms and poor houses, where some of them had been forty years, and where none of them
had been accustomed to work. My experience with this class has caused a loss of faith in the so-called epileptic energy of legendary renown. I have not found that epileptics are any more ambitious to work than other people are; but there are exceptions, of course. It is against the simplest laws of physiology to ascribe such a condition to a class of people who, periodically and to an extreme degree, expend every atom of energy there is in their bodies. The pent-up tide that often precedes the fit does not show itself in the way of energy to be spent in labor. It is rather an accumulation of the forces of the emotions, and of the psychic rather than the grosser material elements.
Of the 230 epileptics admitted into the Craig Colony since the opening, all of whom were admitted as not insane, not more than 5 per cent., under the most liberal estimate, were capable of performing, unaided, any sort of useful labor: first, on account of the long standing of the disease and the consequent general deterioration; and, second, from the lack of any kind of training after the disease began.
Of the 145 cases admitted prior to Oct. 1, 1896, only I had been an epileptic for less than a year, while 112 of that number had suffered from epilepsy from five to forty years, and 11 for forty years and over. 63 of the 145 had no occupation; while many to whom forms of occupation had been ascribed had been forced, on account of the disease, to count their vocation among the lost arts.
For the epileptic, therefore, we seek to accomplish two things: first, to cure him, if possible; second, during the effort to cure, to educate and train him to useful and self-sustaining labor.
The means employed in the colony system to cure, to educate intellectually, morally, and industrially, and to teach self-support, are so intimately interwoven that they must be considered as one.
On entering the colony, the patients' education is begun along two lines,—one to give them a common-school education, the other to put a means in their possession whereby they can become producers as well as consumers, and at the same time become themselves the effective agents in the application of a remedy of untold value in the treatment of their disease.
The first is necessary by virtue of the fact that educational advantages are denied to epileptics in the common schools, and the character of the disease is such that the majority of them will always
suffer from it and be isolated from home ties; and the ability to communicate with friends is a simple pleasure that should not be denied them.
The younger patients are sent to school two and one-half hours a day; and, besides being taught to read and write, they are taught many other simple things, especially to observe. Modelling in clay, studying the forms and sizes of figures, in fact, kindergarten work of all grades is of value to them, and should have a place in their education.
Nature studies, too, should have a place in their curriculum. Their knowledge of nature-of plants, shrubs, and flowers, and of birds and insects -is meagre. Some of the younger patients, who have come to us from the great cities, had never seen a pig, did not know that milk comes from cows, and could not tell a carrot from a mullein stalk. The birds, their haunts and habits, and the trees of the forest were as inanimate objects to them; while, in reality, these things are all full of beauty and perpetual interest to the eye that sees and to the mind that has some knowledge of the wonders of Nature.
Nature study is receiving much attention at Cornell University, and the following is a brief description sent out from that university as to what nature study means:
It is seeing the things which one looks at and the drawing of proper conclusions from what one sees. Nature study is not the study of a science, as of botany, entomology, geology, and the like. That is, it takes the things at hand, and endeavors to understand them without reference to the systematic order or relation of the objects. It is wholly unsystematic and informal, the same as the objects are which one sees. It is entirely divorced from definitions or from explanations in books. It is therefore supremely natural. It simply trains the eye and the mind to see and to comprehend the common things of life; and the result is not directly the acquirement of science, but the establishment of a living sympathy with everything that there is. The proper objects of nature study are the things which one oftenest meets. To-day it is a stone, to-morrow a twig, a bird, an insect, a leaf, a flower.
How simple! one may be tempted to exclaim. So it is; and yet it is just what these defectives need. It is the beginning of knowledge, the very first lessons in the training of the powers of observation. It leads to reasoning, and creates a desire to investigate.
Next in order in the education of the young epileptic comes industrial training, and the value of an institution for the care and treatment of epileptics may be measured largely in proportion to its ability to furnish the means for this. Such an institution should possess no lack of broad and fertile acres where the minimum expenditure of labor will produce the greatest yield.
Not only is outdoor life best for the epileptic, but his efforts, well directed in the garden and on the farm, will go farther than in any other direction toward producing his support. Agricultural work for him has a double value; and our experience has been that just in proportion to the increasing number of hours spent in active out-ofdoor labor there has been a corresponding decrease in the number and severity of seizures, and that the good effects are most marked when individual interest shown in the work is greatest.
Energy that would be illegitimately expended in a convulsion may be made to expend itself gradually through the medium of legitimate muscular exercise. I might cite a score of cases in support of this belief, and one of them is of such interest that I will briefly mention it.
V. S., a young man twenty-six years old, was admitted to the Colony Feb. 5, 1896. He had been an epileptic eighteen years. Twice he had been under treatment in State hospitals, and was discharged from them both as a hopeless case. He had no occupation, could do nothing, and, when admitted, his attacks averaged from three to five in twenty-four hours; and that had been his record for five years. He was extremely emaciated, tottered in his walk, and had to be assisted to his meals by two persons.
We got him out of doors as soon as the weather was mild enough ; and, when potato planting commenced, he was sent to the field and made to take part in the work. He began immediately to acquire an appetite, gained in weight, had fewer attacks; and during the three months that followed, the change that was wrought in his condition in every respect was little short of marvellous.
During the first month at the Colony he had 110 seizures; during the second, 98; during the third, 13; during the fourth, o; during the fifth, 1; and this was due to the excitement incident upon a visit to him of relatives, who took him from the Colony over night. For twelve months he has not had a seizure. He has learned the printer's trade, and is now doing most of the printing work of the Colony.