Poor Performance at School and Tonsillitis

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, March 16, 1914:  Nothing much doing. 

Building that once housed the McEwensville School.

Building that once housed the McEwensville School.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

You’re probably sick of posts about tonsils and tonsillitis by now, but I have to share just  one more amazing thing that I discovered: people back then believed there was a relationship between tonsillitis and poor performance at school.

This is what a book published in 1914 called Adenoids and Kindred Perils of School Life by D.T. Atkinson, M.D. said:

Children with adenoids rest badly at night. They breathe through the mouth and snore heavily. Their physical discomfort causes their sleep to be disturbed by dreams and nightmares and it is not unusual for them to spend the night in tossing about in bed.

They awaken in the morning unrested and remain tired and peevish during the day. At school they are backward, absent-minded and forgetful. There is often an inability to fix the attention, and as a rule they make poor grades in their classes.

Nearly every observant teacher can now pick out these children in the school room, guided only by their general appearance and their lack of application.

9 Responses

  1. No wonder so many tonsillectomies were done!

  2. Nowadays this is put down to children leaving home without a proper breakfast.😃

  3. As the mother of a son who had HUGE tonsils and adenoids (til they were removed), I can attest to the not sleeping well at night part of that article!

  4. The Cottage Physician by George Post in 1895 says…

    With enlarged tonsils there is always more or less thickness of speech, and a great liability to sore throat or quinsy.

    My grandparents had this book in their home.

  5. Or they now blame hand held electronic devices :P I was always a good student but I kept getting sore throats so out came the tonsils. I have to admit I got fewer sore throats. I think. It was a long time ago.

  6. Maybe that is my problem! I’ve had recurrent tonsillitis as a kid and haven’t slept well most of my life!

  7. That’s interesting.

  8. Had a big horrid computer crash. Thought life as I had known it was dead, but back to life and I wanted to tell you I missed your blog so much!

  9. I’ll be watching for that when I walk through the classrooms this week. I will ask the little buggers that are unfocused if they still have their tonsils. Ha!

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