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Saginaw Address

As a school master I am interested in the twenty million school children who in a little while will occupy your places. The conservation of natural resources is not so important as that of the children.

Don't tell me that the majority of the people are intelligent. That's a nice thing for a governor to say. But I know from my own stupidity the work it is to have an occasional thought. Look over newspaper advertising with the medicine quackery and see the millions of readers and followers, and then speak of intelligence.

I hope Michigan will have a thorough medical inspection of all educational institutions from the kindergarten up that will prevent any graduate from going out into the world ignorant of his own machinery. It would be necessary to tear down half the school houses. We are not doing too much for afflicted, but we are doing too little for those not afflicted. If it is necessary for tuberculosis patients to eat, live and sleep outdoors why do not all people need fresh air, why should not the boy and the girl be given pure air in the school house?

We must awake public sentiment to enforce sanitation in buildings. The time will come when classes will be heard outdoors. Now we can't drive them out. Why, at the Adrian home they even locked the doors, but they don't now any more.

I am not talking about Saginaw for I know your facilities. Michigan is bigger than any city. We must get hold of the rural and village schools, put all in a sanitary condition, give them clean air and water.

Only recently, I pleaded in Detroit for dental inspection for it is my business to go around and wake up the Rip Van Winkles. I believe good teeth are related to all round education. Ninety per cent of the boys and girls have defective teeth. Dental clinics are practicable in the country. You have money to fight hog cholera, why not for dental inspection? This is also true of the eyes. Many are back in their grades because of defective teeth, eyes, hearing or other senses. The doctors can do more, can place their mark upon their communities.

Wednesday last I visited the Blind Institution here, and I have not told the reason before. The inmates are between eighteen and sixty, and I want to see if something further could be done to enrich their lives, not to make more money, but to give them more joy. What a gait we are traveling today. The first ten men you meet will measure their success in dollars. A girl marries and the question is: "Did she do well?"

And the reply is, "Yes, she married a millionaire." I am not against wealth for we want it to build up great structures to carry on the work. But let's turn this to a particular end.

I came away from the Blind Institution discouraged. I commend the institution, it is doing a splendid work. But they read newspapers to them an hour each day, and many do not come out of their room. Those men must be awakened.

At the Industrial School there are eight hundred boys, not criminals, and the superintendent says eighty per cent will become good citizens. We cannot say that for any public school. Some boys under existing conditions must violate the laws to get the education and sanitary conditions. One high government officer recently appointed came from the Industrial home. There they have the sanitary conditions, the work, the books, music, and religion so managed as to get the best results. There the environment in controlled.

The Blind Institution at Lansing is a further inspiration. There are five hundred blind children in the state. But is it necessary in order for a girl to have a clean environment and become a splendid woman for her to lose her sight? At the Blind institution the environment is controlled. Is my daughter with her eyes to be forced to have an unclean environment?

I welcome all medical men. I especially like homeopathists for I know if they do no good they do no harm, and you have to watch the regulars often so as not to go to the cemetery. You are on the right trail, and I wish there was more genuine orthodox homeopathy.

Take a course in sociology, human nature. I have nothing against the Christian Scientist's constructive work, but why let the cults arise which take the human soul and walk of with it when the medical men should be in front? Why does the medical profession deal so lightly with the mental phase? People are doing things all the time they know are wrong. The instincts constitute the dynamo which regulates the individual. Teach people through the right ways, not by showing them the bad things.


Source: Newton, Roy, editor. Life and Works of Woodbridge N. Ferris. (Big Rapids, Michigan: n.p., 1960), 237-240.


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