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during the past thirty years to improve the sanitary condition of the city that the amount of sickness and annual death-rate are continually lessening.
It is largely due to the recent improvement in the sanitary arrangements of the city, the hygienic instruction in the schools, and the developmental value of the gymnasium, athletic fields, and recreative centers and playgrounds that the great cities like London, New York, and Chicago have often had a lower death-rate than many of the smaller towns surrounding them. The country towns and villages have not begun to awaken to their possibilities in the prevention of disease, or to their responsibility for the health education and physical development of their children.
7. Hence another cause of the poor physical condition of such a large number of American youths is the wretched health conditions surrounding the home and school life of a large percentage of the children living in the country. Let me quote from the admirable report of the Joint Committee on Health Problems in Education of the National Council of the National Education Association and of the Council on Health and Public Instruction of the American Medical Association prepared by the chairman, Dr. Thomas D. Wood, of Columbia University: “More than half (about 12,000,000 or three-fifths) of the school children in the United States are attending rural schools. Country children attending rural schools are, on the average, less healthy and are handicapt by more physical defects than the children of the cities, including all the children of the slums. And this is true in general of all parts of the United States." This committee further states that “the present deplorable conditions may be attributed to lack of architectural and sanitary ideals and standards in rural regions, false economy of local school boards in failure to vote enough money to build and maintain suitable school buildings, and lack of health supervision or assistance by the state, which is usually necessary to maintain desirable standards of physical and mental efficiency.”
Since this report was written the great state of New York has passed the “Welch Bill,” which has provided for the city and country schools of the state physical training and health teaching as a part of the regular curriculum. Now just as other states in the Union are looking to New York for light and leading in this important educational movement, and the experiment is yet to be thoroly tried out, another bill is introduced into the Legislature termed the “Lord Bill," the object of which, as I understand it, is to exempt all rural schools from physical training. If in the light of our present-day knowledge of the physical unfitness of a large percentage of our young men, and of the woeful physical defects and imperfections of a large number of our country as well as our city youths, this bill is allowed to pass, it seems to me it will be an awful step backward for the state of New York and thru her a wretched example for the country at large. Some of the wise men of New York state have seen this crying need of the children of the people and have made efforts to supply it by making physical training an integral part of the regular school program. England and France have come to the same conclusion in their hour of need for men, and the Minister of Education in England now pathetically declares that it shall never again be said that it is not until they are needed for the terrible uses of war that any care is taken of the mass of the youth of the country. Yet this is the condition of the United States today, where, as we have seen, over 50 per cent of our young men have been rejected as unfit for military service, while the country is spending millions upon millions at the training camps in trying to get those who have been accepted in fit condition to perform the duties of a soldier. I have no hesitation in saying that three-fourths of all that is now being done to fit our young men for service at the cantonments could have been done and should have been done at school during the growing and developing period as a matter of daily routine in preparation for life. Aside from the technical requirements of the soldier, which the best military authorities tell us may be attained in from three to six months, all the mental and physical ability a man can carry into the service is that which he has acquired thru inheritance, or from years of schooling and training. To imagine that this ability can be acquired, with all of the courage and fighting spirit that should accompany it, by attending school and reading about what someone else has done, or sitting on a bench and seeing some other fellow run, jump, or play ball, is an awful mistake-a mistake from an educational point of view from which we shall have a rude awakening before the war is over.
Most of us have opened our hearts and our pocketbooks in aid of the many charitable organizations which are now seeking to make life more comfortable and enduring for those who are going over to the other side to meet the hardships of war. While we should all rejoice to be able to make the soldier's life as "safe, soft, and easy" as possible, those of us whose business it has been to prepare men for athletic contests know that the first essentials are vital power, strength, hardihood, and endurance. These are the qualities that are going to enable a man to stand on his feet, bear his burdens, endure discomfiture, and finally “go over the top.” Moreover, if a man is stricken with disease or wounded in battle, it is not “cake, candy, or cigarettes," or even skilled medical attendance or tender nursing alone that are going to pull him thru; these luxuries and kindly aids are indeed comforting and greatly assist nature, but the most potent factors that are going to bring back his health and strength and enable him to keep up the fight are the good rich blood in his veins and the vitality of his tissues that have been acquired by correct habits of living and vigorous physical training.
B. PRINCIPLES UNDERLYING MINIMUM ESSENTIALS OF
EXERCISES WILLIAM A. STECHER, DIRECTOR OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION, PUBLIC SCHOOLS,
PHILADELPHIA, PA. There should be no objection to the statement that education must be a conscious process, an undertaking with a purpose. Since physical education is a part of education it also must have a definite purpose. To teach anything we must therefore know what purpose is to be served by the thing to be taught.
Obviously bodily health is the first essential, the first purpose, in physical education. No one can be completely efficient in any walk of life unless he is in good physical condition. No less important than bodily health is an active mentality and the habit of having due regard for the rights of others. These then we may regard as the aims of physical education.
After the purpose of physical education has been stated it next is necessary to choose from the vast number of possible bodily activities those few that are indispensable to accomplish the purposes indicated. When we have done this we must select from the many ways of doing these things those few methods of doing them that are likely to lead to valuable results in the shortest time. In selecting such activities we must never lose sight of the fact that the various forms of bodily exercise exist for man's sake, not he for them. In deciding upon the value of any specific activity the question always should be, Of what significance is it to man? How can he apply it? What purpose can it serve? An activity should not be its own end. It must help perform some work; it must serve some human purpose.
A further reason for selecting any physical-education activity should be the fact that we cannot get along without it, that it is necessary for life and health. It should be an indispensable and direct aid to us in doing our work. In efficient teaching of any type the time has past when a subject is taught because of its value as general training. In efficient physical education the time also has past for teaching tactics, free exercises, steps, etc., because of their value in adding to one's general efficiency.
Modern psychology has demonstrated that there is no great amount of transfer of any ability or acquired skill from one field of endeavor to an entirely different field. As soon as the conditions differ the ability acquired in one line does not appear to affect the performance in an entirely different line to any appreciable degree. Since we cannot expect a large amount of all-around benefit in the way of general bodily efficiency from many of the gymnastic activities found in most of the older courses in physical training, it is very important, therefore, that we select and emphasize only such activities as have definite utility. A rational course in physical education should build up in the pupil habits that will go on functioning in his later life and ideals which will predispose him to truly useful social behavior.
The habits to be developt by physical education might be groupt under three heads: (1) habits of useful muscular activity, (2) hygienic habits, and (3) social habits. In developing these habits we must first of all teach the pupil certain vigorous muscular exercises essential for physical development and general health, e.g., running, jumping, climbing, vaulting, skating, swimming, and playing various games.
Secondly, we must develop other habits that are less purely physiological, habits that are more conscious. Among these are the habit of taking frequent exercise out of doors, the habit of doing corrective exercises, the habit of keeping clean (in person and surroundings), the habit of living hygienically. It is in relation to this second set of habits that the truth appears with regard to the lack of transfer of habits from one environment to another. Consider the sanatorium patient who returns to his own house. He very soon falls back into his unhygienic habits unless during his stay at the sanatorium he has formed very strong ideals of right living and has in mind very definite rules for carrying out these ideals. The proper kind of physical education should then contain instruction in such matters as will produce conscious practice of hygienic habits.
Thirdly, we must in physical education take into account the development of what might almost be called moral habits-self-control, orderliness, punctuality, cooperation, fair play. These habits above all depend upon the raising to consciousness of an ideal—a standard of action. Who has not seen a boy who would scorn to cheat at baseball, nevertheless cheat in school? He had the "be square at ball” habit, not the “be square
all the time” habit. It is the task of physical education as of all education to teach proper ideals as well as proper habits.
The number of activities indispensable for securing both results, proper ideals and proper habits is not large. If then the selected activities are taught with due regard to the formation of ideals, physical education will have provided activities and knowledge that will be really useful in the after-school life of the pupil.
For teaching purposes the essential activities might be groupt as follows: Forms of bodily exercise and games leading to:
1. The ability to control one's body on the earth and in the water. This would include exercises like running, jumping, tramping, dancing, swimming
2. The ability to control one's body in many of the unusual accidental situations that modern life imposes upon us. This would include exercises on apparatus that permits climbing, vaulting, swinging, stemming, hanging, supporting.
3. The ability to move other objects with accuracy and dispatch. This would include exercises like throwing, striking (including boxing), wrestling, rowing.
The minimum essentials here would be a well-prepared teacher, sufficient outdoor space, and sufficient time.
Under hygienic habits we would first of all place cleanliness of person and of clothing, also a disposition to be dissatisfied with unclean surroundings. There should be instruction in the laws of health. This training to produce hygienic habits might be classed as:
1. Health instruction, health knowledge, leading to correct habits based upon an understanding of what is good or bad for the individual.
2. Corrective exercises based upon individual needs as disclosed by a personal examination, leading to a habit of exercising to attain a wellproportioned body.
3. Cleanliness of person, of gymnasium, of building. Cleanliness should begin with the individual, then take in the gymnasium, locker, and bathrooms, and eventually embrace the building and its surroundings. It should lead to the habit of civic helpfulness and cooperation in health matters.
If these activities are taught correctly, and if the teacher, especially thru the correct use of team games, incessantly strives to bring into consciousness the ideals of cooperation, of fair play, of helpfulness, of always being square, it is reasonable to expect that many good social habits will be formed. The hygienic habits formed by a desire to live according to the knowledge acquired by the health instruction would be reinforst by good habits of muscular activity. Sane muscular activity and the desire to reach high standards of hygiene would in time be reinforst by useful social habits. And the result of this threefold striving should be a more useful and effective social being.
1. Teachers.—The regular classroom teachers should be able to teach the standard physical activities spoken of above. They should have had a training in applied hygiene and in sociology.
2. Space.—A playground is better than a gymnasium. If, however, both can be had, they both could be used profitably. The playground should be large enough to accommodate the pupils of a school. For a school having less than 200 children there should be a free, undivided play space of not less than 2000 square feet plus an addition of 20 square feet for each enrolled pupil. For a school having more than 200 children there should be a free undivided play space of not less than 2000 square feet plus an addition of 30 square feet for each enrolled pupil. In addition to the playground, according to the size of the school, there should be one or more playrooms for use during bad weather. These rooms should be not less than 30X75 feet each.
3. Equipment.–Balls are the most necessary pieces of apparatus in a playground, a playroom, or a gymnasium. A minimum equipment for a year for less than 200 children would be two outer-seam small-sized basketballs, often called soccer-balls, to be used for most games (including soccer football), one volley-ball, three indoor baseballs, and one bat. Next in order come simple pieces of apparatus: one giant stride, two low horizontal bars, one ten-foot frame with four swings, and a jumping-pit.