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Trace the historical development of physical education Essay

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Trace the historical development of physical education and discuss the effects that these developments have had on your opportunities to develop performance in your chosen activities

The historical development of physical education has had a significant effect on my opportunities and personal performance. I will be investigating the effect of historical development of physical education by looking at various Acts made during the past two centuries, especially in schools and the various forms of physical education lessons which have been used in the past.

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In the nineteenth century there were two distinct traditions in education – Public Schools and State Elementary Schools.

Public schools were for the gentry and were fee paying. They were usually non-local, residential and were single sex schools. The students played many games and concentrated on the characteristic of leadership and teamwork. They would regularly play these games and develop the rules which had recreational values. The facilities were good due to the fees paid.

Physical Education has developed dramatically in public and private schools since. Education in this country started with private schooling for the social elite. Pupils enjoyed extensive facilities and focused on the ‘character building’ aims of education, as preparation for responsibilities in later life as employers, officers, members of the clergy and so on. Competitive team games developed to serve these aims. There was always a concentration on sport rather than a physical education emphasis and this is still common today. Competitive fixtures are a recognised feature and the reputation from winning helps to distinguish different schools.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth century State Elementary schools were for lower class people. They were free, cramped and had mixed sexes. The type of teaching was associated with military drills and Swedish gymnastics, and was more based on physical training. The lessons low status and there was lots of foreign influence. The students were valued for discipline and the training was to get them fit for war. They were more interested in social control values – recreational and educational values were learnt later on.

This is also changed dramatically over the years. State education began after the Forster Education Act 1870 which initiated compulsory schooling for all. In the state system physical education is compulsory and is a core subject of the National Curriculum. The class teacher is usually in charge, though is not usually a specialist. The content of the lessons is usually based on movement and ball skills. Learning by moving and doing is considered essential to the physical, emotional, intellectual and social education of young children. Variety is also important as concentration span is limited and stimulating activities need to be included. In addition to the curriculum, many schools also offer club activities like gymnastics, netball, soccer, country dancing, etc.

Another major historical development was when a man called Thomas Arnold encouraged moral features of teamwork such as self discipline, loyalty, courage, character building qualities and leaders.

By mid nineteenth century headmasters and staff in public schools started to organise sports. This helped with the development of games. There was local variation of games to schools from villages, the students played regularly and in their free time, school rules, skills and boundaries were developed, teams played competitively, the boys organised a self government, codified rules and inter-school fixtures began and there was the development of games elite.

Athleticism was the ‘physical endeavour with moral integrity’. The cult of athleticism stressed the physical and social benefits of sports. Physical benefits were seen to cancel out the effects of inactive lifestyles. Sport was seen as therapeutic, invigorating and beneficial. It was a break from work. Sport could take place in a competitive situation which would help the boys to cope with winning and losing in a dignified manner. This in turn developed leadership qualities e.g. being captain was a high status office to hold and inspiring to many of the other students. The performance was seen as more important than the result. Athleticism also met middle class values of respectability and order. Values of sportsmanship, leadership and abiding by the rules.

There were people who were against the idea of athleticism. They said that it lead to regimentation of boys thoughts and behaviour with destruction of individuality, and believed that students were finding it more important the their other studies.

Old boys brought games from universities with codified rules and philosophy to excel at their sport. This contributed to technical development and improved standards. Sports Day was also introduced which gave a chance for old boys, parents and governors a chance to relate to exercise.

Athleticism brought about an old boys/girls network, sports clubs and governing bodies became significant administrative features, officers in army and navy influential on troops, clergy influenced parishioners, teachers went back into schools, employers encouraged games in their workforce and the empire enabled these developments to be spread world wide.

Overall it can be seen that athleticism was a benefit in developing physical education and it still carries on in today’s sport.

Female Education also helped development in physical education. In the late 1800’s education for girls was very poor, pretentious and costly. Accomplishment for society was not intellectual development and competitiveness was not socially acceptable for women. Muscles bound was not good for childbearing and was a threat to the normal behaviour. Due to wealth in the 19th century there was more leisure time and the women were more hard headed, had more common sense and groups of middle class women overcame prejudice. The Schools Inquiry Commission 1868 was important, and in 1881, universities recognised the girls fulfilled degree requirements of boys. In 1898 there was the endowed Schools Act where by 80 girls were endowed.

And by 1900 there were 36 public schools for girls, and by the 1918 Act gave girls the same education as boys. miss Bergman wrote the ‘Teacher’s Encyclopaedia’ which introduced the principal games in girls school – hockey, cricket, basketball and lacrosse. She also saw the benefit of tennis but felt students were already reasonable proficient from their social backgrounds. Women’s athletics emerged in the last 1/4 of the nineteenth century. Physical activity developed later. The development was linked to sociological factors. When prejudicial attitudes began to change, girls began to participate in activities such as tennis, hockey, gymnastics and cricket.

Social games like tennis allowed a mixture of sexes. Female participation in physical activity have helped to develop my opportunities to develop performance as tennis was one of the first sports women were allowed to play. The ladies were able to play privately away from the public gaze, and it was a game which helped to remove some of the stereotypes. They could run around becoming increasingly energetic and clothing began to be slightly less restrictive. Schools also accepted the game as it was non-contact, had rules and was acceptable to the parents. The middle classes also ensured its club development and the administrative structures.

The lower classes had to wait until there was public provision, so their participation was delayed. Real tennis was similar – it was the sport of the noblemen and royalty and in 1536 there were restrictive acts which forbade servants and labourers to play. This helped to retain the privileged status of the elite. The game was originally played with the hand but the development of rackets led to this being a more popular way of playing. It was a very sophisticated, exclusive game requiring expensive facilities, equipment and an understanding of the complex rules and social etiquette of the game.

The Model Course was a major development of physical education. This course encouraged a policy of drills and physical training, but little recreational value. In 1902 the Model Course was instituted by Colonel Fox of the War Office. The aim was to improve the fitness of working class for military preparation, increase familiarity with combat and weapons, and improve discipline and obedience amongst the working class. The drills were done in uniform, in military rows with the students obeying commands. The problem was, they were teaching adult exercises to children. This model was not taking the needs of physical and mental development into account. There was no educative content and individualism. The teachers were not qualified and were of a lower status.

Due to the problems the Board of Education established syllabus’ of physical training in 1904, 1909, 1919, 1927 and 1933. These stressed the physical and educative effect of sport. The physical content of the syllabus was influenced by the primary concern for medical and physiological base from which they approached the subject. Therapeutic effect, correction of posture faults, exercises to improve circulatory system were foremost in the aims. The educational aims were to develop alertness and decision making. The 1919 syllabus had consideration in loss of life in World War 1 and the flu epidemic after. The 1933 syllabus was more do to with the freedom of movement and was more decentralised. There was a recognition of the increasing rights of the working class and development of educational value of group word.

Millions died in World War I, and so public schoolmen had ideals of service to the country and were enthusiastic about conflict. Following the war there were hopes of a more equal society due to massive loss of life sustained from all levels of power and responsibility of society.

After World War II the Butler Education Act 1944 was introduced. This was a major social reform in Britain, it removed special privileges and ensured equality of opportunity to all. There were 146 local education authorities which provided recreational facilities, the leaving school age was 15, education in grammar schools was free and the 11 plus was introduced, new secondary schools were built, there were more mature forms of P.E. and the 1944 McNair Report gave physical education teachers the same status as other teachers. The rebuilding program after the war helped develop physical education. The facilities became more sophisticated, more physical education teachers were enlisted and there was a movement away from therapeutic and medical values and more emphasis on heuristic and guidance style of teaching. The ‘movement’ approach was also introduced. Children used their initiative and learnt by discovery.

Other major developments were that team games were giving way to more individual pursuits, travel was now available to all classes, the motor car enabled mobility fro even the working classes and air travel had become commonplace for sport teams which also resulted in an increase in competitions. Television had a major impact on sports, creating interest in new heroes in sports otherwise unknown to millions. National and international standards rose at the expense of school performances. Local authorities were supplying more recreational facilities such as swimming baths, adventure playgrounds etc. The development of National Parks opened up the countryside and encouraged outdoor activities. People were more free to choose their leisure pursuits than ever before.

The Moving and Growing Programme was also a major development in the history of physical education. There were two publications – Ministry of Education 1952 and 1953. The had influences of obstacle training from the army and movement training from centres of dance. There was also circuit training, weight training (progressive resistance training) and there was Outward Bound Schools promoting adventurous activities to develop personalities within natural environment in challenging conditions. This was more of a child centred approach, and as a result of educational thinking physical education teachers were now autonomous with personal control over the physical education syllabus. The activities included agility, playground and more major game skills, dance and movement to music, national dance and swimming. This was more exploratory, creative, individual and fun. Due to this programme many more activities have become available in schools curriculum, and these sports have become more adventurous and our knowledge has increased over the years on these sports.

The National Curriculum attempts to raise standard in education and make schools more accountable for what they teach. Physical Education is compulsory from the ages of 5-16. There are attainment targets and programmes of study. Children are required to demonstrate knowledge, skills and understanding involved in areas of various physical activities. There are four Key Stages. The Physical Education curriculum took place in August 1995 with ‘Sport, Raining the Game.’ This has been outdated by Curriculum 2000 changed, which brought physical education more into line with other subjects.

The advantages of the National Curriculum are that there is a uniformity of experience and the approach is co-ordinated. It gives the teachers guidance and there is a wide range of experience with pupils. However some would disagree and say that there is no allowance for regional variations and that it can limit choice for teachers. They also think that the tradition of schools is lost and that the cost of facilities and resources is greater. The National Curriculum can help in my performance as it helps me to judge how I am progressing and how I can improve. It gives me goals to work towards to achieve the next highest level.

Assessments in physical education are also very common. The have aims and objectives and the achievement of the student is evaluated and progressed. There are several types of assessments – longitudinal student profiles, purely quantitative data like fitness tests and generalised comments. Children need to show what they know, what they can do and understand. Written and verbal language is also important, and being able to use all of these in performance situations. The assessment evaluates the whole person and is not just physical. The ability to work in a group, individually and the ability to abide by the rules is also important. These assessments have helped develop my performance as teachers and coaches can give feedback on how to progress and due to mark schemes etc. they can judge how far I am progressing and what my aims are for the future and how I can improve further.

The changes in society and education in the last 20 years have affected school sport i.e. extra-curricular opportunities, with a reduction in emphasis on the sporting elite. Extra-curricular clubs, open to all, became more acceptable. Although, many teachers continued to focus on competitive sports and extra curricular activities were affected by the teachers strikes in the early 1980’s, financial cuts were felt in terms of transport, the local management of schools allowed schools to supplement their funds by selling off school fields, the increasing amount of leisure and employment opportunities from children meant they were less attracted to competing for their school team and the anti competitive lobby became more vocal.

Competitive sport helped to develop children in sport. The children taking part would have a natural competitive instinct, and would be more motivated to practise. They would also enjoy the sport more and competition can raise self esteem and they can learn how to cope with failure and success. But some people espoused the theory that competition in sport was not good for children’s development, stating the continued feelings of failure can cause stress and anxiety and the need to win can encourage unsporting behaviour.

Over the years people have also come to realise that sports can greatly benefit overall fitness including reducing the risk of dying prematurely, reducing the risk of dying from heart disease, reducing the risk of developing diabetes, reducing the risk of developing high blood pressure, helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure, reducing the risk of developing colon cancer, reducing feelings of depression and anxiety, helps control weight, helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints, helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling and promotes psychological well-being. Due to realising theses developments the government has produced better sport facilities which can also aide in our development of physical education.

In conclusion it can be seen that all of these periods in history have contributed to the development of sport. They have increased the amount of opportunities that we have and the facilities have greatly increased. Due to many of the Acts and the National Curriculum we are now free to participate in a much larger variety of activities and not only do we involve ourselves in physical activities but we learn the educational side of sport. I think that through the times the physical education system has improved and now we have more freedom to do what we want. I think that it is good to have physical education compulsory to a certain age as it is an attempt to keep children informed of the benefits of health and fitness and can keep the children more lively and enthusiastic about sport.

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