Page images

sum of human knowledge as it now exists, but we are seeing the handwriting on the wall and are getting a broader vision of the whole problem of education. The great world-war has revealed to us many shortcomings and neglected opportunities. Perhaps no phase of our national life has felt the test more keenly than the one with which we are concerned, that of education. From the standpoint of moral development we have stood the test very well. And that the intellectual training has been of a superior quality is proved by the fact that those who are accepted prepare for service with almost incredible rapidity, showing a high degree of intelligence and keenness of mind. But when about one-half of those who offer themselves for service to their country must be rejected because of physical imperfections, we ask ourselves whether we have not been neglecting a most important phase of education, whether we have not been weighed in the balance and found wanting from the standpoint of physical education. Who can estimate what would have been the gain to the nation if the physical powers of its boys had been developt, as well as their mental and moral qualities?

A means of definitely measuring the results of our work in all of its phases would doubtlessly bring us to a keener realization of the importance of physical education as a necessary part of the work of the school. The intellectual ability of our boys and girls and the effectiveness of our training in this respect we do measure with a reasonable degree of accuracy, and our work is influenst very greatly by the results of such measurement. thus far we have concerned ourselves very little about their physical fitness, and we have done very little to find out what progress their bodies are making in keeping pace with their mental development. We take no measure of the effect life in school and outside is having upon them physically. We have been trying to build up a sound mind without first providing for the development of a sound body. As a result, far too many of our young men and women are unable to stand the strain and test of life.

We have begun only in spots to organize, supervise, and teach play. Medical inspection of a superficial type is bringing to notice only the most glaring of physical defects, some of which are remedied by medical attention outside of school, but so far no consistent, systematic, effective work is being done in our schools to remedy physical defects, or to make the knowledge which the children get concerning the laws of health and the care of the body a part of their habits of life, or to promote health, strength, and vigor of the body.

In order that we might have a way of determining, to some extent at least, the physical fitness of our boys and girls in Allegheny County, and to provide them with definite lines of self-training and a motive for such training, we workt out a plan of tests, with standards by which they could be measured and toward which they could train.

Reports from the districts where the tests were given indicated their value beyond our expectation. They were given credit for aiding discipline and improving the quality of mental work, and for a deeper interest and better spirit in the school. Number of boys tested...

7147 qualifying in running.

1504 or about 20 per cent “ jumping


29 “ chinning.

2938 “ all three tests..


[ocr errors]


508 "

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Only 7 per cent of the boys and 3 per cent of the girls were able to qualify in all three of the tests given. Evidently too few are developing physically strong in every respect. As a rule the mentally retarded are also physically weak. A study of the results of the test in relation to retardation helps to prove that there is a close relation between the condition of the body and the efficiency of the mind. It has been demonstrated in other ways that improving the child physically results immediately in improved mentality. Attention to removable defects, such as adenoids, poor eyesight or hearing, or decayed teeth, almost invariably gives the child a new lease of life. Is it not evident that physical training of the right type would help very materially to reduce retardation, and that our boys and girls need exercises selected, varied, and adapted to the end that their bodies may grow symmetrically strong, vigorous, and healthy ?

It would seem that the school in its effort to educate, must make physical education a part of its daily program. Without school life so ordered can we ever hope to produce efficient men and women?


SCHOOL, KENT, OHIO The matter of morale, intangible, yet most real, is in all our thoughts at the present time. The relation of this spiritual attitude to the physical is a fascinating consideration.

In one sense physical education is the only education. Not only do we learn to know by doing, but we learn to know, in the ultimate reality, only by doing. Purposeful, joyful action is a mental and spiritual stimulant and tonic quite as much as it is a developer of physique.

We, the people of the schools, who associate five or more hours a day with childhood and youth, have so little felt in friendly sympathy with the throbbing of the eager young hearts that we have waited for the city gymnasium, the swimming-pool, the settlement playground, the Boy Scouts, and the Camp Fire Girls to demonstrate to us that attenuated intellectuality can never be the mainspring of healthy, hearty, joyous youth.

If the child's impulses are to be transmuted into spiritual values, if thru them he is to be made a creature of a larger life, until his life is rounded into Froebel's three great unities, with himself, with man, with God, then his physical education cannot be left to chance. It must become a serious and large part of his school life.

In the majority of American schools physical education still plays a very small part. Even the ten or fifteen minutes of daily exercises are often crowded out by work considered more important, and the exercises are often perfunctory and poorly adapted to the needs of the children. Adequate gymnasium facilities and ample open-air playgrounds are the exception rather than the rule.

When Americans were mostly country dwellers, even the city child could usually walk from his home in the heart of the city to the fields and woods. Motor control was learned at the spinning-wheel, the churn, the bread-board, and the cheese-vat; at the scythe, the ax, the haymow, in nutting and apple gathering. Sometimes there was a heaviness in the rustic grace, something of the joy of life was often lacking; but always there was for the children and young people a sense of the dignity of labor, of being an integral part of the family and community. Much that was admirable in physical development and social morale came thus.

These are other times. Our children and young boys and girls are a leisure class by legislation, with no occupation but mental culture. More and more what they are and are to become is made the responsibility of the school.

Admitting then that the first duty of the school is to make the child a healthy, happy animal and to furnish him a fitting habitat as such, we find that we cannot, because he is human, do this first thing without doing more. He is an "ideal farming animal,” and we are obliged to ponder the service which physical education may render through using this great spiritual instinct.

The health and happiness of the individual require, not only that the proper muscles shall be exercised and each organ given its due share of work, but that his education, intellectual, spiritual, and physical, shall be social instead of solitary; that it shall give opportunity for losing himself and so finding a greater and worthier self in the group, the side, the team, the nation, the humanity, to which he belongs. This sense of belonging is morale. “Except as he is member, citizen,” says Mr. Joseph Lee, “the child will lack the chief basis of morality.” The relation of morality and morale is like that of honesty and honor.

Step by step the different forms of physical education deepen the belonging feeling. Merely doing things in unison, as in drill, where each is independent, yet all are actuated by a common purpose, gives a sense of unity and makes each feel himself a part of the whole. And since the feeling of belonging is fundamental, those features of physical training in which a common end is sought by the group are the most far-reaching from a social point of view. Human life is a cooperative project. “No man liveth to himself alone.”

Morale is that nth power to which man is raised by his faith in the end sought by the group to which he is bound by a common ideal or purpose. In all the great moments of the world men have thus been lifted out of themselves into a realm in which their powers become those of supermen, and the beginnings of this superhuman power are to be found on the playground. In those forms of sport requiring combination and initiative all the qualities of morale are found. "In team play there are needed,” says Dr. Dudley Sargent, "quick judgment in unforeseen exigencies, alertness, quick perception, prolonged attention, great self-control, self-direction, and self-sacrifice."

In addition to all the foregoing in group play is the almost greater one of fair play, which in organized play is taught by the game itself. Our chief accusation against the Hun is his lack of sportsmanship. He does not play fair. He does not abide by the rules of the game. The whole world is engaged in the effort to teach the Hun the standards learned on the football and baseball fields.

Physical training has already done wonders in transforming the old, hard, undemocratic, unsocial school. It can do much more, but there is a lurking danger. It is that of the mechanical standardization of physical education. Joy, will, social interplay, real opportunities for leadership must remain if it is to continue to be a living factor in the ascent of the school to better things.



Physical education in rural schools is a problem that has not yet been satisfactorily solved. It is a problem that presents several angles. We must determine the needs of the rural communities in a physical, moral, and social way. We must determine what physical education should include and how to inaugurate and organize its various phases.

There has been rather consistent opposition to physical education in the rural communities. Opposition to this so-called "fad” has its beginning in several facts. First, it involves the expenditure of money. The problem is indeed difficult of solution when communities come to value money more highly than they do activities that make for greater social, moral, and physical efficiency. Another reason for opposition to physical education in the rural schools is that the people of these communities do not realize the value of this phase of education. They do not appreciate the need for a wellorganized health program. They have not the right conception of what it is, what it includes, and what it should accomplish. Not the least of all causes for opposition is that in many of those districts where physical training has already been inaugurated the instructors supervising the work have not been properly trained. With such conditions it is little wonder that we find opposition to physical training as a part of the school curriculum.

What then can we do to overcome this opposition ? We must go slowly. The most vital factor in the physical education program is, after all, the teacher and supervisor. People of proper training, of faculty for the work, with enthusiastic interest, and with a vision of the possibilities of the work and the opportunity for service will do more to develop wholesome recreational and civic activities than any other possible agency. They will popularize this training in the rural communities and wipe out the opposition to it.

And now we must determine the needs of the boys and girls of the rural schools and of the rural communities. These must necessarily be stated in general terms. In the first place, healthful and attractive surroundings are essential to the physical, mental, social, and moral welfare of the children and to the life of the community. Instruction in personal hygiene and sanitation of the schoolroom and school grounds is needed. But it is useless to preach if preaching is all we do. It is absolutely necessary for the boys and girls to learn these laws of health thru observation and practice.

School life is a severe nervous strain if the child is expected always to observe proper decorum and to sit still for long periods. We are fighting nature if we compel the child to do this. On the other hand, school life will not become a nervous strain if sufficient periods are given for relaxation and physical exercise. It is not a question of whether the school program affords time for this relaxation thru activity. It is a matter of changing our school program, if necessary, to meet the needs of the child.

Traditional school life has a harmful effect upon the normal posture of the body, and poor posture in turn works great havoc with the health of the child, because of the crowding of the vital organs of the body. The need of postural exercises is apparent. Rhythm and grace of movement are needs of the child. The habitual rhythm of motion is fundamental for full intellectual development. No phase of our education can train the individual in this respect quite as well as can games, athletics, rhythmic exercises, exercises to response, commands, and other branches of physical training.

The children of the soil need physical, mental, and moral courage. Exercises and games which require nerve, daring, courage, and skill should be given. Thru the appointment of leaders the individuals acquire confidence in themselves and the ability to lead others. They acquire the ability

« PreviousContinue »