Gym and Physical Education


Figure 1.--Here is a physical education class at the high school in Olivet, Michigan during the early 1950s. The school here seems fairly relaxed about the uniform. At ny high sdchool in the late-50s, the school was very strict about the gym uniform. We had to wear the regulation gym shirt and shorts with whute sicks and sneakers. The girls wore a one-piece romper suit.

Gym and pysical educatin in general was an inovation which developed during the 19th century in Europe and North America. Several educators in Europe began to promote the idea of physical education as a valuable part of the curricvulum. Colleges and Universities began to offer physical education programs throughout the the idea was gradually accepted at secondary and primary schools as well. In the United States, California was the first school to mandate physical education (1866). Over the next 30 years, the other states followed the California example. The actual physical education program has varied greatly over the years. A trend in recent years has been dropping or cutting back on the physical education program. This is occuring at the same time juvenile obesity is becoming a serious problem. An important element of school uniforms and schoolwear is the gym uniform or kit as it is called in Britain. Even schools that did not have school uniforms had gym suits as they were called in America. There were initinally very substantial differences between boys and girls gym uniforms. One popular early gym uniform for girl was middy blouses, long bloomers, and long black stockings. We notice American girls wearing rompers for gym into the 1960s. Boys generally wore "T"-shirts and colored boxer shorts. In recent years differences between boys and girls gym uniforms have generally declined.

Physical Education Programs

Gym and pysical educatin in general was an inovation which developed during the 19th century in Europe and North America. Several educators in Europe began to promote the idea of physical education as a valuable part of the curricvulum. Colleges and Universities began to offer physical education programs throughout the the idea was gradually accepted at secondary and primary schools as well. Britiush and German educators played an important role. In the United States, California was the first school to mandate physical education (1866). Over the next 30 years, the other states followed the California example. The actual physical education program has varied greatly over the years. Earky gym classes were very formal Many docused on gymnastics. Drill was often used as well. We see gym classes creating stmetrical freeze-action tableauxs. We are not sure what the value was in these. Major shidts occurred in gym classes after World war I. They began to become less formal. More sports and games were included in the program. Other inovations was teaching dance. Agter World War II, the changes began in the inter-war era were widely adopted. Another trend began in the 1980s. Schools began dropping or cutting back on the physical education program. This is occiring at the same time juvenile obesity is becoming a serious problem.

Garments


Gender

There were initinally very substantial differences between boys and girls gym uniforms. One popular early gym uniform for girl was middy blouses, long bloomers, and long black stockings. We notice American girls wearing rompers for gym into the 1960s. Boys generally wore "T"-shirts and colored boxer shorts. In recent years differences between boys and girls gym uniforms have generally declined.

Chronology


Countries

Countries around the world have varied in the attention given to Gym or Physical Education (PE). Often this was primarily a secondary school class. Often schools thought recess provided the necessaet recess. We have, however, note gym classes in primary schools as well. Britain, British Dominions, Japan, and the United States have had important PE programs. Many European countries (France and Germany) have given little attention to PE. Schools often had very strict requirements about gym uniforms, often referred to as gym clothes. Many schools in recent years have relaxed those requirements. This is not a topic we have developed in great detail. We have some infornation from different countries.









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Created: 3:30 AM 2/4/2010
Last updated: 3:30 AM 2/4/2010