A Brief History of Physical Education
If several hundred years from now archaeologist were investigating our society, they would find endless examples of sport in the United States: stadiums, swimming pools, running shoes, hockey sticks, skis, baseball gloves, posters of sports stars, etc. Even today a basic survey of our country would reveal sports and physical education everywhere: Little League baseball, Physical Education classes, Special Olympics, neighbourhood basketball, jogging, and televised professional sports. Various forms of sport and physical education have been around since the late 1400's and have only gained momentum and recognition in the centuries that followed. One of the first men to recognize the importance of physical activity in school curriculum was Johann Bernard Basedow in Germany. He included gymnastics as part of the daily curriculum devoting up to three hours per day to educating through the physical. Basedow required a specific uniform for his students so they could have unrestricted movement. He also offered camp for two months during the summer for his students. In 1810 Friedrich Jahn, "the father of gymnastics", began working outdoors with his students using simple exercises and games sometimes taking long hikes. The thing that motivated Jahn to develop a system of physical training was his deep sense of patriotism. Germany had been soundly defeated in the Napoleonic wars. So, he developed his system with the hopes of creating strong, sturdy and fearless youth who would help secure Germany's freedom and could defend the Fatherland from outside forces. Charles Beck who was a student, friend and follower of Friedrich Jahn teamed up with a friend and they made their way to Switzerland, France and eventually America. George Bancroft who had opened the Round Hill School in America had been looking at and studying the German system and immediately hired Beck to teach Latin and Physical Education in the form of German gymnastics. So,...
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