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PAPERS AND DISCUSSIONS
BY PROFESSOR G. W. FITZ, HARVARD UNIVERSITY, CAMBRIDGE, MASS.
While deeply regretting my inability to be in Los Angeles, I heartily appreciate the privilege granted me of briefly addressing you upon the condition and needs of the physical education of today.
The present position of physical education offers much of encouragement. Educators and teachers are becoming more generally appreciative of the educational value of exercise. Physicians and parents recognize its hygienic value in promoting growth, and in producing that indefinable quality which characterizes the physically active, and which we call vigor. School system after school system is placing physical training in its curriculum. It would seem as tho now were the time when the physical director and the teacher of gymnastics could look forward with confidence to coming into his own.
But the present situation contains a threat as well as a promise. The growing demand for the teaching of physical training has been more than met by the rapidly increasing supply of trained teachers. With the consequent rise of competition have come those rivalries of schools which threaten the unity of purpose and heartiness of co-operation upon which our future progress rests. The need for physical training is so great and so varied in its aspects that but few appreciate it in its fullness. One becomes impressed with the poor carriage of school children, and indeed of the majority of mankind, and feels that physical exercise and training should aim at the improvement of the carriage. Another notices the awkward restraint of movement, and is impelled to devise a system of culture which shall give freedom and grace. Another notices asymmetry and poor development, and devises such measurements and training as shall make for normal development. Still another is interested in athletics, and thinks that it is the panacea which will bring about human physical perfection. The lover of childhood finds in spontaneity the great organ note of human life which harmonizes all activity, and so believes games and plays to be the truest training for school children.
As a result of this diversity of claim, school officers and superintendents are beginning to hesitate about the introduction of physical training, overwhelmed by the necessity for a careful consideration and just valuation of the various systems, each one of which in its struggle for
supremacy claims to be alone in its completeness and adaptation to the needs of the schools, and too often does not hesitate to condemn its rival as ignorant, careless, poorly equipped, and blind to the great underlying principle of gymnastic progression.
This spirit of the schools of physical training has seriously militated against a calmly critical study of the essential problems of physical education. Were the opportunities now possessed by physical trainers utilized for a scientific investigation of these problems, we should not now lack a concordant physiology and hygiene of physical exercise, a co-operative synthesis of effort in defining the physical needs of children in kindergarten, primary, grammar, and high schools, or a just, mutually helpful emulation in furnishing the means for the physical activity thus defined. We should have a clear idea of the relation of physical activity to growth, to the development and healthful action of the brain centers, and to the fatigue consequent upon school work, so that we should be enabled to judge more accurately of the kind and amount of exercise most effective as a constructive and remedial agent, and the conditions which determine its effectiveness. This can only come thru comparative studies made upon the results produced by the training offered in the various systems. At present Dr. Foster, of Bryn Mawr, is the sole contributor to this comparative study.
It seems to me that this movement can no longer be delayed. Disagreement, sharp criticism, and conflicting claims cannot but make our cause ridiculous and delay a full recognition of physical education. We must unite all conflicting factions into an earnest and efficient body of students who will be eager to grasp the truth, unmindful of its source, unprejudiced by its bearing upon preconceived ideas. This is no time for sentiment, for blind following of leaders, or the blinder application of cutand-dried rules. It is no time for political methods, for the bribery of school and college officers to introduce a special form of gymnastics by offers of free instruction or even of gymnasia. It is a time for loyal, conscientious work and study, and for the re-examination of the foundations of the theory and practice of physical training. The continued existence as a theoretical entity of any system depends today upon a careful study and adaptation of the newer results of physiological and psychological work. It is not too much to say that our ideas of the relation of physical exercise to school work may be radically modified within the next five years.
Some advance toward this co-operation has already been made. The American Association for the Advancement of Physical Education at its convention in Boston, in April, considered the question of establishing a uniforın system of examinations upon the basal studies of the curricula of normal schools in physical training, including anatomy, physiology, hygiene, physiology of exercise, and pedagogy, and of giving its certificate
to those who, by successfully passing these examinations, give evidence of adequate fundamental preparation for the teaching of physical training, regardless of their specialization in any one of the several so-called gymnastic systems. Steps were taken to appoint a committee of nine to prepare this matter for presentation to the next convention two years hence. It was also unanimously voted that a committee of fifteen be established somewhat upon the basis of the famous Committees of Ten and of Fifteer of the National Educational Association, with representative membership drawn from all classes of teachers, physicians, and psychologists, to consider the physical needs of the various grades of the public schools and determine the amount of physical training which should be introduced into each grade. Upon the successful outcome of this and similar plans for co-operative investigation and critical study must depend the growth and vigor of physical education. Harmonious co-operation must take the place of antagonism. We must be students of the truth of physical education, not merely exponents of fixed systems.
THE INFLUENCE OF EXERCISE UPON GROWTH
BY FREDERIC L. BURK, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, SANTA BARBARA, CAL.
It is not the purpose of this paper to prove that exercise affects growth. Let us accept this as a fact. An army of gymnasium directors are ready to show that, in certain instances at least, certain exercises have produced marvelous enlargements of chest capacity, sudden increases in the circumferences of the biceps, have straightened misshapen limbs, squared sunken shoulders, and filled in here and taken out there, as a potter shapes clay. Nevertheless, there have been failures now and then. Clearly, there are limiting laws in promoting the function of exercise upon growth, and it is with some of these I shall deal.
What is growth? It is not getting fat, and to say that it is simply the process of getting bigger is inadequate. It is admittedly true that we must include under the term " growth" a vegetative phase which Aristotle pointed out, and this certainly has to do with the increments of tissue --their size, form, symmetry, and relative proportion ; but this is manifestly not the only phase, for it does not include the most pertinent of the aims of physical training-growth in the accuracy, rapidity, endurance, strength, execution of long and delicately co-ordinated sequences of movement, which go to make up the requirements of modern life. No new muscles have been added to the hand of the skilled mechanic, artist, or musician, nor have the size, form, and relative arrangement of the muscles been modified in any degree commensurable to the prodigious increase in power. The muscular differences between the hand of a monkey and the
hand of a man are hopelessly inadequate to bridge the chasm of increase in power, co ordination of movement, and delicate adjustment. Even in the matter of strength no theory based upon muscular development alone meets the fact that civilized races are superior to the uncivilized, or the fact, shown by Féré, that artisans whose daily work requires exercise of some measure of intelligence are stronger than artisans whose work is almost wholly muscular in form.
In the form of growth which has power for its aim we certainly must turn from the muscular to the nervous system; nor can we accept as yet the common assumption that growth toward ideals of muscular beauty, symmetry, and proportion is any certain guarantee of growth in power. Indeed, we can have growth thru the vicarious exercise of muscles. Fechner several years ago found that by learning to write with his right hand the figure 9 backward his left hand was vicariously taught to accomplish the same feat, tho it had not been exercised. Miss Smith, of Yale, for ten days exercised her right hand to insert a needle point into a small hole, so arranged electrically that any unsteadiness was recorded. Of 200 trials daily the percentage of error sank in the ten days' exercise from 39 to 12 per cent. The left hand was tested at the beginning and end of the ten days. It received no exercise in the meantime; yet the percentage of error had sunk from 50 to 24 per cent. As early as 1858 Volkmann and Fechner had shown that by exercising the sensibility of any given area of the skin on one side of the body the power of discrimination of compass points on homologous areas on the other side increased, tho they were not directly exercised. Even in the matter of strength this vicarious influence has been shown. Miss · Brown, at Yale, for thirteen days exercised her right hand in squeezing a mercury dynamometer bulb, with the result of increasing the strength of this hand from 28.8 to 48.6 - an increase of about 20 points. Her left hand, which had received no exercise, nevertheless showed an increase in strength from 29.6 to 42.3 – an increase of 12.7 points.
We have in these experiments an agreement which leads to the conclusion, within the limitations of the experiments quoted, that growth in power can be effected thru exercise of the corresponding part of the opposite side of the body, without muscular exercise of the parts affected. How is this fact to be explained ? Certainly any theory which seeks to find the explanation in muscular conditions most fall far short of adequacy. If for growth in power we turn our inquiry to he nervous system, the explanation that exercise affects not only the cell groups governing the muscular parts involved, but also, in a greater or less degree, all cell groups in association, offers a plausible solution.
There are other principles of vicarious influence of exercise upon growth besides that of bilateral association. Féré, in the Revue philosophique, two years ago reported a series of most interesting experiments
upon a subject who exercised his hand by simple and easy flexions of fingers. After three months of such training not only was the motility increased, but also strength, precision, and reaction time of the entire hand. Clearly, there must be some explanation for the phenomenon in some neural association, quite beyond any muscular training.
The separation of the problem of growth in the nervous system from that of growth in the muscular system introduces some important and significant modifications. Growth, as a vegetative swelling in size, is a more primitive form. The protozoan cell swells in size until it reaches a certain point in maturity, then it divides, and each daughter-cell repeats the pro cess. Most of the tissues of the human body effect growth by means not distantly differentiated from this primitive form of vegetative increase. But in the nervous system this form of growth ceases forever in the early embryological period. The number of cells does not increase thruout life. We have, therefore, in the nervous system a sui generis condition. Growth in the nervous system after birth consists in the awakening of latent cells into functional activity, and in the extension of associational fibers, bringing the cells into an ever closer co-ordination one with the other and with foreign tissues of the body. Ramony Cajal suggests plausibly that the energy which was employed in growth by cell division now passes into the higher forms of fiber extension and the development of latent cells. Exercise administered at the proper time is certainly a factor in producing this growth. Omission of it, we are almost justified in asserting, at least in many cases, prevents development. In any adult brain, even in old age, multitudes of undeveloped cells are to be observed, and growth of finer fibers is practically continuous thruout life, as the studies of Kaes, Vulpian, and others would go to show. Donaldson has shown, from his study of the brain of the blind and deaf Laura Bridgman, that in the visual and auditory areas there was an excessive number of undeveloped cells, and the number of fibers was very significantly small. These areas had received no exercise. Also Hamarberg, in his comparative study of idiot and normal brains, shows beyond question the woeful deficiency in the development of cells and fibers in the defective regions.
We now pass to some of the principles which condition growth and limit the function of exercise.
1. Hereditary structure provides the framework for the main form of the more important fundamental movements and activities. Prior to birth the nerve cells are already formed and are lying dormant in their respective areas, and their larger connections, direction of course, and main associations are established, anatomically, long before they become functional, and therefore long before exercise can legitimately become a factor. This certainly applies to all of the well-established racial activities. To what extent preformation exists for activities less established,