John Franklin Bobbitt.

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below his normal without finding himself the prey of acute
illness, and of tedious recuperation.

Training, therefore, for the ideal of keeping well, if it I
is to be done at its best, involves training for high levels of j
reserve vitality. It presents a positive program, not a mere
negative one.



PERFECT physical training for child or adult is that which
brings him to the one hundred per cent level of possible
vitality and which holds him there. Since perfection is
scarcely attainable, education will aim at the highest prac-
ticable levels. This definition appears desirable because of
the frequent limitation of the term to muscular exercise.
Naturally physical training must always include a generous
amount of muscular exercise; but there are other things just
as important, such as proper sleep, food and food habits,
air, temperatures, sunlight, balance of all physical expendi-
tures, protection from micro-organisms, the elimination of
wastes, healthful mental states, etc.

Physical training has long been on the school program.
One has, however, only to glance over the statistics of
physical deficiency among school children, army recruits,
or the population in general, to realize how lamentably
this physical training has failed to accomplish the essen-
tial purposes of abundant vitality and freedom from
physical imperfection. Our physical training has relatively
failed because it has lost sight of most of the vital factors for
such a program. There has been and still persists the con-
ception that education is a classroom affair; that only what
can be taken care of at the school-building is to be done;
that educational specialists are not to lead or direct or be
otherwise concerned with experiences which must be had in
other places within the community. The present topic more
than any other discussed in this volume reveals the limita-
tions of such primitive educational thought and practice.


Good physical training, can result but from one thing;
namely, ^ng^tivirig. One must actively do the things that
enhance vitality and actively avoid those that waste it.
Learning the facts of a book will not accomplish it; nor good
recitations; nor good marks upon examination. Nothing
will serve but right living twenty-four hours in the day,
seven days in the week, and all of the weeks in the year.
Naturally pupils must have preliminary ideas as to what
to do. These they will secure from books, teachers, nurses,
physicians, physical trainers and personal observation; but
getting such ideas constitutes only the preliminary step in
the series of activities that constitute the physical training.
It is not even the preliminary step unless there is the con-
scious intention on the part of those securing the ideas to
put them to work. Let a student have any quantity of ideas
as to what constitutes right living, if he does not put them
into operation they do not acquire vitality nor result in
physical training. The curriculum must be living with
learning only one of several steps.

Since muscular exercise is the part that has been most
completely institutionalized, let us begin with that. The
first thing to be noted is that it is mainly taken care of in
the general out-of-school experience. Pedometers on six-
year-old boys not in school have shown that they travel
more than ten miles a day in their play; and the other por-
tions of their play are probably the muscular equivalent
of another ten miles. Since children have four waking
hours per day out of school for every one in school counting
all of the days of the year, if equally active in the two
cases, they will be getting four fifths of their muscular
experience outside of the schools. In general, however, the
out-of-school experience is the more active; so that most of
the developing experience is not directed by teachers.
There are two general types of training. One is system-


atized gymnastics, variously called calisthenics, Swedish
gymnastics, German gymnastics, etc. It is usually taken
indoors. It involves wands, Indian clubs, dumb-bells, etc.
Usually there is no spontaneity in the exercise, but it is all
done at the arbitrary word of command. It is not play
because the children are not actuated by the play-motive
and it is not performed in the play-spirit. So far as it is
work it is of the unhealthy taskmaster type. The fear is
often expressed when "supervised play" is recommended
that the supervision will injure the play by depriving it of
its spontaneity. The formal gymnastics, however, repre-
sent a type of systematization and supervision that has
been carried to such an extreme that the play-spirit has
completely departed, and not even a memory of it remains.
It is the antithesis of normal living. It therefore cannot
adequately serve for education.

The other type of physical training is an institutionaliza-
tion of children's play which retains the play-spirit. The
leaders of the movement have been assembling a great
repertory of plays and games for indoors and outdoors, for
boys and girls, and for all ages and stages of development.
These include ball-games, running-games, catching-games,
athletics for all, rhythmic dances with and without music,
folk-games and dances, as pleasurable as they are effec-
tive for training. They represent real child-life at its best
transferred to the schools with as little change as practicable.
It is the type to which schools are turning.

To these play-activities must be added an increasingly
active type of general school life. Experiential education
is introducing more activities of the laboratory, the shop,
the kitchen, the school garden, community observation and
survey, active participation in practical community affairs,
chorus singing, playing of musical instruments, field work
in the country, etc. In normalizing education in general,
excellent physical training is also provided for.


Perhaps it should be mentioned that where one is abnor-
mal and is in need of corrective orthopedic exercises, like
medicines for the sick, systematized gymnastics may often
have a legitimate place. But it has no more place in the
normal muscular development of normal children than have
medicines for the well.

Perhaps chiefly because of tradition, teachers seem to pre-
fer the formal gymnastics. The writer had occasion to ask
a group of elementary teachers as to the type of physical
exercises which seemed to them most beneficial for their
pupils. Out of sixty-eight teachers who replied, forty-eight
preferred the formal gymnastics; twenty, the plays and
games, especially when outdoors. When asked which type
the children preferred, they were all agreed that the children
preferred the games. The majority of the teachers, there-
fore, said that in their judgment the instincts of the children
placed there by Nature are wrong; that the children's nor-
mal appetites in the matter of physical exercise are unsafe
guides; and that a type of muscular experience so foreign
to human nature that children never indulge in it in their
spontaneous play is the thing needed for proper develop-
ment of their physical natures. It is safe to presume that
instincts are safe guides until the contrary is proven.

In the elementary schools, especially, the calisthenics is
urged because of the relief it brings to pupils after an hour
or so of concentrated mental work. The children need re-
laxation of attention and lowering of nervous strains. The
need is real; but the method is not very effective. While
five minutes of vigorous exercise in a classroom with the
windows open may be made to serve the purpose, yet it is
certain that the same amount of time devoted to running
around the block would be worth immeasurably more. The
run is a normal type of exercise. It possesses a social aspect!
and permits a degree of spontaneity lacking in the calis-l


thenics. It is vigorous. The slackness characteristic of
calisthenics is impossible. Children return with flushed
faces, deep breathing, and circulation vigorously irrigating
the tissues. It gives , them real relief from concentrated
attention; and real exercise.

With this compare the calisthenics, where every move-
ment is at word of command. To quote one of the manuals :
" Strict attention is very essential. The commands must be
given in a commanding spirit, with expression of voice such
as to convince pupils that they must obey and move
promptly. The quality and the value of the exercise de-
pends almost entirely on its execution at the command.
The latter is the signal to perform and must clearly indicate
that we expect accuracy and promptness." In other words,
this exercise is not intended to afford relief from concen-
trated attention. Quite the reverse, they insist that atten-
tion be absolute.

And what is more, relief is not given through the vigor of
the muscular exercise. Too often it is but a series of formal
posturings, perfunctory and lifeless. One manual quaintly
remarks : " It should be work in the garments of quiet pleas-
ure and tranquil delight." But when pupils are to be given
relief from mental tensions, the negative things of quietude
and tranquillity are not the most effective. They need a
type of exercise that will permit the vigorous discharge or
even explosion of pent-up energies. But spontaneous out-
bursts of activity are the last things desired in the formal
gymnastics. "Pupils should stand still during position and
while exercising; laughing, smiling, whispering are acts and
motions not favorable to good work." They are tranquilly
to go through with their posturings with the faces and mien
of wooden men. Those who know children know that their
Iplay cannot be normal, and that they cannot obtain proper
"relief from their study-tensions without laughing, shouting,


and running about as whim impels. Such physical-training
instructions as those quoted read like an educational fan-
tasy instead of being things actually prescribed in many
systems of training devised for the second decade of the
twentieth century.

A major advantage of the play-exercise is that it can fix
habits for life. Adults in a sedentary age need physical
exercises as much as children and adolescents. The training
should prepare them for this. But adults in their recrea-
tions refuse the taskmaster and all his ways. They will have
spontaneity or nothing. If their training has given them
command over a variety of sports, games, and athletics,
and has developed appreciations and habits, they are pre-
pared for types of exercise that they will gladly continue.
But they will not continue formal gymnastics. Even though
it may have accomplished the development of youth, it
fails to meet the continuing needs of adulthood. We are
prone to forget that education is for adult life; and that it
cannot be accomplished once for all time, but must be a
lifelong continuing affair.

Let us turn now to other factors concerned in any ade-
quate program of physical training. In bringing children
and youth as nearly as practicable to the one hundred per
cent level of physical vitality and in keeping them there
throughout school-life, food, air, sleep, etc., are just as vital
as muscular exercise. And for the self-directed activities of
adulthood for which education is to prepare, proper food
habits, ventilation habits, sleep habits, etc., are just as
important as lifelong habits of physical exercise. Education
has institutionalized the factor which will easily transfer
to the schools. It has not institutionalized the factors which
will not so transfer. Yet food violations and wrong food
habits are just as frequent and deleterious as wrong mus-
cular habits. And there are also violations in ventilation,


sleep, the elimination of wastes, mental states, etc. The
physical-training inefficiency with which education is often
charged and which is substantiated by facts is mainly due
to the woeful incompleteness of its program.

Most of these activities cannot be transferred to the
school-buildings. Food-activities under normal conditions,
except possibly for the noonday luncheon in high schools,
will not and ought not to be transferred. Sleep-activities
will not transfer in any degree. Ventilation-activities must
be taken care of fully at the school plant, and this should
be done by pupils for the sake of their training, during
the hours of their presence there; but it is to be taken care
of elsewhere during their out-of-school hours. Experience
in protection from micro-organisms can be had at the school
during school hours, but it is an experience that is to con-
tinue during the rest of the twenty-four hours at home and
throughout the general community. The regulation of tem-
perature by means of clothing and the heating of rooms can
be only partially transferred to the school, the major por-
tion of the experience taking place outside. The experiences
involved in the elimination of wastes and in bodily cleanli-
ness are only partially transferable; the training should
mainly be the general living experience.

In some things, as, for example, the bath for cleanliness,
there is occasional tendency in congested poverty sections
of our cities to introduce at the schools bathing opportuni-
ties actually needed in the homes, but which are not to be
found there. This is in obedience to the educational prin-
ciple that where community experience is seriously inferior,
substitutionary opportunity should be provided at the
schools. Under present conditions, therefore, we shall occa-
sionally institutionalize types of experience which normally
ought to be taken care of in the homes. This should be but
a temporary educational expedient to be dispensed with as


quickly as improved community conditions will permit. In
introducing substitutionary opportunities, the schools are
conscious agents of community progress. In proportion as
they are successful, they reduce their portion of the task
and turn it back where it belongs.

We appear here to be confronted with a startling addition
to our professional responsibilities. Progressive school sys-
tems, however, have for some time been working on the
program. The first step is the accurate determination by
physicians, school nurses, and physical trainers of the
physical condition and habits of each pupil; to find wherein
his physique and habits are already good, and training not
required; but more particularly wherein he is physically
deficient, and given to wrong habits. The training problem
is to make him and his parents conscious of his shortcom-
ings; to give him the information needed for self-guidance;
to assist him in the antecedent planning for the right activi-
ties; to encourage and stimulate and see that the oppor-
tunities are provided in the homes and the community. The
pupils are then to be trained through self -directed but super-
vised experience in putting their ideas to work.

Full and right performance of these activities on the part
of the children requires the example and leadership of the
adult generation: parents, associates, teachers, nurses, and
physical trainers. These specialists need to be as fully in
contact with the community experience of the children as
they are in contact with the school portion. Educationists
can no more perform their services long-range than can
physicians or farmers or blacksmiths. They must be in
contact with the material which is being shaped during the
time of its shaping. Naturally this statement must be inter-
preted in the light of the fact that both teachers and chil-
dren have memories; and that this permits influences to be
continuous without continuity of contacts.


The program requires that teachers and other trainers of
youth be primarily members of the adult community, asso-
ciated with the parents and leaders of that community. It
is to get them out of the schoolroom into the larger life of
affairs. It is to give their schoolroom labor its proper place
in the total scheme of community affairs. It is to bring
them to see education as living; and to see learning in its true
relation to living. It is to make men and women of a pro-
fession that has all too often been dwarfed through living
primarily within a child-world. Those who are to lead chil-
dren to the high levels of adult performance, who are to
confer the wide outlook of the adult world upon the new
generation, are to be those whose associations are primarily
with the mature members of the community; and whose
outlook and valuations thus remain those of the adult world.
Naturally teachers long accustomed to the easy grooves of
academic tradition and the cloistral isolation in which they
have been spared from grappling with the knotty problems
of the full-grown world will be fearful of any such emanci-
pation and increase of responsibilities. But the present is
an age of swift change. We emerge into a new and human-
istic world. Our profession is being called upon to bear a
large responsibility in making the adjustments. Along with
all the world, as fully and perhaps more so, our profession
must readjust its ideas and its practices. The things are
not to be feared; but welcomed. It is the new day of our
professional opportunity.



IN an age of multiple interdependencies and contacts, one
cannot alone determine the conditions upon which physical
welfare depends. These are determined by the social whole.
His food-supply, for example, comes to him from a thousand
hands and through a thousand channels. Properly to serve
its purposes it must be genuine, not an adulteration or imi-
tation. To be pure and wholesome, both sources and chan-
nels of transit must be uncontaminated. Care of the food-
supply is not merely a matter of personal hygiene; but a
cooperative task of the entire community. For this, social
training with definite objectives is imperative.

There is the same dependence of each upon all in the man-
agement of the water supply; sewage disposal; the ventila-
tion of street and railway cars and public buildings; the
provision of pure air in cities, not contaminated by excess
smoke, dust, and gases; the prevention and destruction of
harmful micro-organisms; the prevention of flies, mosqui-
toes, and other carriers of disease; protection against acci-
dents in factories, mines, non-fireproof buildings, and street
traffic; the hours and sanitary conditions of labor; provision
of community play-facilities; elimination of noises; the social
control of the liquor, drug, and proprietary-medicine traffic;
the sanitation of schools, hotels, restaurants, stores, thea-
ters, churches, hospitals, jails, public institutions; arrang-
ing right community relations with the medical profession;
the suppression of public nuisances; the promotion of the
social, economic, and political relationships that are condu-
cive to mental serenity; adequate support of the health


department; the gathering, presentation, and use of health
facts; the elimination of poverty as a potent, widely ramify-
ing cause of physical invalidity; setting up of standards of
living which recognize the physical-efficiency factor; and
finally, the general diffusion of the knowledge, attitudes,
and valuations needed for the cooperative performance of
these things.

The training is to be for practical performance. It is
therefore to use the technique of training upon the work-
level, in which training for action is to be accomplished
through action; in which knowledge, habits, and valuations
are to guide, impel, and facilitate right action.

It is difficult to arrange for practical training except in
the Great School of community affairs. Pupils must, there-
fore, under the guidance of teachers mingle with the adult
world in their performance of the cooperative activities.
They will look on; serve as helpers; in places bear a little
responsibility; in other places, larger responsibility; and
they will talk with those performing the responsible labors.
They will also look out upon a wider world of health rela-
tionships through varied reading; and discuss the problems
in their classes in health-science and civics, and with school
physicians, nurses, and physical-training directors. Along
with these they will antecedently plan; and with the stimu-
lation of the adult leadership, they will perform the part
that can legitimately be given to youth for their social

Cooperative provision of play-facilities

We can best explain by illustration. Let us take first the
cooperative task of providing and maintaining adequate
physical play-facilities for children and adults. One's first
reaction is that this task does not require training. All that
adults have to do is to vote the money and have their offi-


cials purchase and maintain the facilities. This is true. But
it is like saying that one does not have to be trained for
spelling because it is only the simple task of putting the
letters in the right order. However simple this task, men
cannot do it until they value it, want to do it, and know the
right order of the letters; and all admit that these require
training. Now, voting money for sufficient purchases and
for adequate maintenance, delegating the authority wisely,
and holding agents responsible for effective service, these
more complex things require that men value physical play
for themselves and for their children, that they want it,
and that they know how to get .the things done with cer-
tainty, effectiveness, and economy. They need training
first, for valuations, appreciations, attitudes of mind; and
second, for knowledge of means and processes. Of the two
the first is the more vital. It is prerequisite to the second.
It requires that men know play in its essences; know the
soul of play through having long experienced it. It requires
also that education aim definitely at something deeper than
knowledge an unaccustomed task. With the soil thus
prepared, the knowledge factor can be taken care of with

The valuations can be developed only where children and
adolescents have an opportunity to live the necessary play-
experiences tennis, baseball, skating, basket-ball, foot-
ball, running-games, folk-games, and dances, and all the
rest for all of the pupils. To read books about the topic,
to present reports in class, and to listen to talks by the
teacher, however fervent, is not to know play in its essences,
not to arrive at the valuations; and therefore never to attain
these ends of the training.

But participation alone is not enough for the social valu-
ations. The experiences of any individual are limited and
partial. He needs also to observe widely; and to read for


width of social vision. In this way he should view the recre-
ational life not only of his own region, but usually indirectly
that of various cities and regions of our country, and of
other lands and ages. One does not realize the fundamental
place of play in human affairs until one observes the large
place that it has always occupied and still occupies in the
lives of peoples over the entire earth. Pupils need, there-
fore, to read an adequate history of human recreation
which will reveal concretely the large place of physical (and
at the same time usually social) play among primitive
peoples both ancient and recent; to read the history of play
in Greece, Rome, Persia, mediaeval Europe, Spain, England,
Germany, Japan, America, etc. In each case the chapter
dealing with recent history should be full.

As the participation, observations, and readings develop
valuations, it is easy to introduce the knowledge aspects:
the physiology of play, the simple concrete psychology, and
the social and economic aspects.

The cooperative fight on disease

A second cooperative task requiring practical social train-
ing relates to the prevention or limitation of diseases. This
problem is considerably more difficult for education. There
is not the same strength of propelling instinct. The tasks,
therefore, are less congenial. The problem is rendered more
difficult since pupils are hot often to be brought into direct
contact with diseases and disease-producing conditions be-
cause of the dangers. In the vocational or civic education,
one aims to bring children into as vital contact with the
realities as possible; but here the demands of the usual peda-

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Online LibraryJohn Franklin BobbittThe curriculum → online text (page 14 of 22)