CRITICAL CONSIDERATIONS 13<
The vertebral column, the fundamental, biologically primitive
part, the oldest part of the skeleton; the most firmly fixed, siace
the skeleton is the hardest part of the organism! The ver-
tebral column, which was* able to resist without yielding in the
fiercest struggle waged by primitive or civilized man, when he fought
with the lions of the forest, when he subdued the mammoth, when
he dug stone, when he bent iron, when he subdued the earth—
that vertebral column does not resist but bends under the yoke
of the school!
It is incomprehensible that so-called science should have
laboured over the perfecting of an instrument of slavery in the
school, without being penetrated in the slightest degree, by at
least one ray of light, from the movement which was taking shape-
outside for bringing about social liberation.
The direction of reform is well known and is .repeated by
everybody. The underfed workman does not ask for restoratives
but for an economic betterment which will prevent under-nutrition.
The miner who, by carrying on his work extended on his stomach,
during too many hours of the day, is subject to hernia of the intes-
tines, does not ask for abdominal belts which would keep the
intestines in place, but asks for a reduction of hours and better
working conditions that he may live a healthy life like other men.
And when, during this same social epoch we acknowledge
that in the school the children work in conditions so adverse to
the normal development of life that their skeletons may become
deformed, then we respond to such a terrible revelation by giving
them an orthopedic bench. It is like offering a hernia belt to the
miner, or arsenic to the underfed man.
Some time ago a lady, imagining that I encouraged scienti-
fic innovations in the school, submitted for my judgment, with,
evident complacency, a corset for pupils, .invented by herself, with
which to complete the prophylactic work of the bench. It is true
that we doctors use for the cure of deformities of the vertebral
column means other than medicinal; we use orthopedic instru-
ments, corsets, and the treatment by suspension—the latter means