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									Pedagogy
                                          Chapter 12
                                 A Brief Look At Iowa’s K-12
                             Physical Education Content Standards
                                              By
                                       Ed Thomas, Ed.D.


        The marriage of physical and mental       to conspire against our children and doom
development in American education has             them to a culture no better than our own.
endured since the beginning of our Western                We owe each child a fair chance to
culture. The ancient maxim mens sana in           develop a good physique, optimal organic
corpore sano clearly defines the ideal. Many      function, and the ability to move well.
of Iowa’s early leaders in physical education     Experts have noted the declining physical
recognized, acknowledged, and promoted            fitness of our youth for several generations.
the mind/body connection. For example,            The issue has become especially public in
Davenport, Iowa’s Elementary School               the last few years as our children grow ever
Course of Study in Physical Culture (1911)        more inert, malformed, and clumsy. The
begins with a quote by Francis W. Parker:         physical devolution of our youth threatens
                                                  our national security, national productivity,
       It may never be known                      and cultural foundations. The rhetoric of
       scientifically     what      a             “No Child Left Behind” seems hollow when
       tremendous influence the                   we consider the possibility that the
       body and all its organs exert              educational process might be robbing our
       upon      the    brain,   and              young of their physical potential. Poor
       consequently      upon     the             physical preparedness significantly impacts
       intellect. The more I see of               academic performance, and the steadily
       physical training in schools,              declining physical fitness of our youth
       the more I believe in it; the              clearly indicates the need for reform in our
       more I study psychology,                   school environments and our physical
       especially       physiological             education curricula.
       psychology, the stronger my                        This article is aimed at assisting
       belief becomes in physical                 concerned administrators and physical
       training. ( p.3)                           educators who are reshaping their physical
                                                  education curricula to meet the crisis. If our
         As caretakers of the motor domain,       youth are to escape the decay of physical
today’s physical educators play a crucial         culture that is woven into the fabric of their
role in the mental development of our youth.      daily lives, we must better prepare our
The linguistic high ground of education is        current and future teachers, improve our
rich with connections to the physical nature      physical education programs, and involve
of life. Education itself can be traced to the    entire communities in the effort to mold our
Latin educere, which means “to lead out.”         children into alert, disciplined, healthy and
Curriculum emerged from currere, which            physically fit adults.
means “the course to be run.” To deny or                  Chapter      12    of    The     Iowa
ignore the vital connection between physical      Administrative Code can and should serve
development and cognitive performance is          as a foundation for curriculum reform. It has


IAHPERD Journal, Spring 2003                                                           1
the full force and effect of law, and it       to find them modeling poor posture and
includes the K-12 content areas of physical    providing their students with little if any
education that Iowa public and accredited      leadership and instruction in good posture
private schools must teach. School             and body mechanics.
administrators and physical educators can
use these content areas to measure the
quality of their current physical education
programs, revise curricula, and improve the
physical readiness of their students. At the
kindergarten level, Chapter 12 requires the
following:

       The kindergarten program
       shall include experiences
       designed to develop healthy
       emotional and social habits
       and growth in the language
       arts and communication
       skills, as well as a capacity           Poor body management skills in childhood
       for the completion of                   often lead to adult postural deficiencies and
       individual tasks, and protect           inefficient body mechanics.
       and increase physical well
       being with attention given to                   The early years of our profession
       experiences relating to the             were marked by a strong interest in the
       development of life skills and          body’s form and function, but physical
       human         growth       and          education curricula that effectively teach
       development. A kindergarten             good posture and body mechanics are rare
       teacher         shall       be          today. Between 1958 and 1988, the Journal
       licensed/certificated to teach          of Physical Education, Recreation, and
       in       kindergarten.      An          Dance featured only one article exclusively
       accredited nonpublic school             concerned with posture (Althoff, Heyden, &
       must meet the requirements              Robertson, 1988).
       of this subrule only if the                     Thirty years ago in the 1970s when
       nonpublic school offers a               the theory of special physical education
       kindergarten program.                   included corrective and developmental
                                               gymnastics designed to prevent and correct
        Children often enter kindergarten      poor body management habits and acquired
with developmental deficiencies in body        postural deformities, Fait (1972) estimated
mechanics and posture that deserve             that at least 70% of children at that time
immediate attention in both the gymnasium      were in need of attention. Far too many
and classroom. This is especially important    educators, then and now, have failed to
if patterns of poor body management are        address the issue. Most of our schools have
embedded into their home life. Kindergarten    simply abandoned their responsibility to
teachers often have only rudimentary           protect children from acquired postural
knowledge of such issues, and it is common     deformities and poor body mechanics.

IAHPERD Journal, Spring 2003                                                       2
       Physical Education Content                        Well over a century ago in 1890,
       Requirements for Grades 1-6               British surgeon Noble Smith presented at the
                                                 annual meeting of the Medical Officers of
       Iowa has no minimum time                  Schools’ Association in England on the
requirement for elementary (grades 1-6)          topic of education without deformity. He
physical education, but the following            spoke in sobering detail about the evil
content areas must be taught in our schools:     effects that prolonged hours of study can
                                                 have on a child’s body. Smith (1891)
       Movement experiences and                  warned that the relatively short amount of
       body mechanics; fitness                   time given to free and healthful exercise is
       activities;           rhythmic            not enough to compensate for the many
       activities;     stunts     and            hours children spend in “crooked postures.”
       tumbling; simple games and                His numerous descriptions of the damage
       relays; sports skills and                 done to children by ignoring the natural laws
       activities; and water safety.             that govern their growth and development
                                                 are as timely today as they were in 1890.
        Body mechanics are specifically          Smith said:
mentioned but commonly ignored at this
level of education. Elementary school                   The spine and chest are the
children sit for hours each day, more often             parts which chiefly suffer,
than not, in poorly conceived and ill-fitting           and many consequent evils
furniture that forces them into unhealthy               are apt to follow. If the chest
postures. There they struggle, day after day,           becomes      contracted     by
as their unprepared muscles labor under the             stooping over the desk, or
stress of learning. As if to insure the damage          from the effects of lateral
to our young, some schools have even cut                curvature,     an     ungainly
recess and physical education programs.                 carriage     and     slouching
                                                        figure are not the only evils
                                                        which result. The general
                                                        health will be affected; the
                                                        lungs especially, and the
                                                        organs of digestion very
                                                        frequently will cease to do
                                                        their work in a normal
                                                        manner, and will be made
                                                        more liable to attack by
                                                        serious disease. (pp. 5-6)

                                                         Physical educators have worked
                                                 occasionally, throughout our history, with
                                                 the medical community to prevent and
                                                 correct problems associated with poor body
                                                 mechanics and bad posture acquired during
Ill-fitting furniture is a tragic reality in     the educational process. Tremendous good
schools across the State of Iowa.                could be accomplished if physical educators

IAHPERD Journal, Spring 2003                                                         3
and classroom teachers would again become       stunts, and tumbling components of the
interested and proficient in these areas.       elementary physical education curriculum.




Physical educators can and should
champion the prevention of school-based
postural deformities.
                                                WWII brought a renewed interest in off-the-
                                                ground physical training that was an
        Fitness activities, stunts, and
                                                integral part of physical education in the
tumbling have also lost ground in the
                                                late-1800s.
elementary physical education curriculum.
The move away from these areas can be
                                                         Stunts and tumbling are self-testing
traced back to the early 1920s, when some
                                                activities that children and youth can
key leaders in our field lobbied successfully
                                                perform alone, with a partner, or in a group.
for an emphasis on sports and games at the
                                                Equipment and/or apparatus can also be
expense of gymnastics and physical training.
                                                employed. Stunts and tumbling are generally
That period from around 1890 to 1920 is
                                                noncompetitive and should be taught in
now known as “The Battle of the Systems.”
                                                rational progression. Physical educators
World War II forced physical educators to
                                                published some excellent stunts and
again address physical fitness, stunts, and
                                                tumbling books during WWII. Stunts and
tumbling.
                                                Tumbling for Girls by Virginia Lee Horne
        The 1950s brought nationally
                                                (1943) is a great example of what a quality
publicized revelations concerning the
                                                curriculum in this area can and should
declining fitness of our youth, and John F.
                                                include. Horne wrote:
Kennedy later took the lead in promoting
physical fitness in and outside our schools.
                                                       The ever-rising emphasis
Physical educators were slow to respond,
                                                       upon physical fitness casts
and sports and games remained the focus of
                                                       new light upon those
their curricula. In recent years, physical
                                                       activities which involve the
fitness has gained new respect among many
                                                       manipulation of the body in
educators and is now appreciated by
                                                       feats of skill and strength.
numerous physical educators across the
                                                       The demands for individual
State of Iowa who are rethinking their
                                                       control and development, as
programs to update the physical fitness,
                                                       well as group perfection in

IAHPERD Journal, Spring 2003                                                        4
       stunts and tumbling, offer                        Unfortunately for today’s children,
       outcomes of learning that                 the absence of progressive stunts and
       make a decided contribution               tumbling at the elementary school level will
       in the physical education                 leave them unprepared to learn more
       curriculum. (p.3)                         complex patterns of movement on and off
                                                 the ground as they graduate to middle and
       Like today, some very vocal physical      high school. Past and current arguments
educators in the 1940s argued against stunts     against teaching stunts, tumbling, and
and tumbling. In response to their criticisms,   gymnastics across the curriculum have often
Horne wrote:                                     centered on liability concerns, but the more
                                                 important and fundamental issue of teacher
       Academic arguments for the                interest, preparation, and competency is
       values and outcomes of                    rarely discussed.
       stunts and tumbling can go                        Teaching high-quality stunts and
       on and on. The teacher who                tumbling requires a considerable amount of
       knows        tumbling      will           technical skill and knowledge of methods.
       recognize from her own                    Water safety is another topic that often
       experience that students find             receives too little attention. It also requires
       it satisfying and challenging             teacher competency. Physical educators
       to      master     feats      of          across Iowa with expertise in these areas
       manipulating      their own               should be identified and encouraged to help
       bodies in all sorts of                    train those less prepared.
       patterns. Furthermore, it is
       fun.     When     a     student                  Physical Education Content
       participates in stunts and                      Requirements for Grades 7-12
       tumbling, she is broadening
       her physical, mental, and                         Sports, games, and leisure activities
       social resources. As a part of            dominate most of our grades 7-12 physical
       the     physical     education            education programs. Past attempts by many
       curriculum, tumbling really               in our field to shift the curriculum toward
       needs no justification. (p.4)             physical fitness have been met with firm
                                                 resolve by many others to continue on the
                                                 current course. The controversy spans
                                                 generations. Following the end of WWII, for
                                                 instance, McCloy and Young (1945) edited
                                                 the Iowa Program of Physical Education for
                                                 Boys-Secondary Schools. The State of Iowa
                                                 directed schools to shift toward an increased
                                                 emphasis on physical fitness and left no
                                                 doubt concerning the limitations of an over-
                                                 emphasis on sports and games:

                                                        The high schools have
Calisthenic training at The University of               usually failed to face reality
Iowa in the mid-1920s.                                  as to their contributions to

IAHPERD Journal, Spring 2003                                                          5
       possible future adult physical          education curriculum aligned with the more
       education and recreation.               balanced “old school” model still endures in
       They have generally assumed             Chapter 12. It prescribes the following:
       that if the major emphasis in
       high       school      physical                Physical fitness activities
       education was on individual                    that increase cardiovascular
       and team sports, such as                       endurance,            muscular
       tennis, golf, badminton,                       strength, and flexibility;
       archery, volleyball, and                       sports and games; tumbling
       softball, training in these                    and gymnastics; rhythms and
       sports would carry over into                   dance; water safety; leisure
       good and adequate after-                       and lifetime activities.
       school habits of recreation
       and exercise. All of the                      Tumbling and gymnastics are still
       surveys have shown that this            widely ignored in grades 7-12, but a
       supposition is not true; and,           curricular shift toward more emphasis on
       moreover, if the training in            physical fitness and off-the-ground training
       sports did so carry over, in            is apparent nationwide. Equipment catalogs
       almost no community are                 like Gopher and SportTime now promote
       there enough facilities for             traversing/climbing walls and “functional
       such        recreation       to         fitness” items. The National Association of
       accommodate 5 percent of                Sport and Physical Education now supports
       the eighteen to forty-five              the use of trampolines in the physical
       year-old population. Yet this           education program. The Physical Education
       type of program for the high            for Progress Grants are leaning toward
       schools and colleges has                programs that promise increased levels of
       been        almost       solely         physical fitness.
       emphasized, and, as a result,
       physical education has, as a
       profession, done very little
       for the adult, after-school-
       age population; and the
       literature is strangely silent
       on methods for solving this
       problem. (p.263)

        Proponents of the “old school”
emphasis on physical fitness were given
limited influence in the curriculum during
and following WWII. Then and now, the
sport/game model has endured. The modern
term we often use is “physical activities,”
but the spirit of the notion has not changed   Hand balancing is a great lifetime physical
since McCloy and Young questioned it over      activity. Here the author (top) demonstrates
fifty years ago. Ironically, a K-12 physical   inverted forward flexion.

IAHPERD Journal, Spring 2003                                                       6
         This paradigm shift is bringing new
challenges and opportunities to our field.
Quality physical training is as much an art
as it is a science, and today’s physical
educators are faced with large classes, a
wide bell curve separating fit and unfit
students, and limited class time. Conversely,
if we rise to the challenge and develop
programs that improve the physical
readiness of our students, physical
education will prove itself worthy of more
support. As with stunts and tumbling, we            The Czechoslovakian Sokols brought a
are wise to look at past models as we               highly developed system of physical culture
reshape the physical fitness and gymnastics         to the United States.
component of the grades 7-12 physical
education curriculum.                                       Sports, games and leisure activities
         Gymnastics is an especially                are an integral part of the Chapter 12
important facet of Chapter 12, but it cannot        physical education content formula, and
be taught safely without considerable               should not be excluded as school leaders
teacher skills and preparation. Gymnastics          reform their curricula. Physical fitness can
training has lived through numerous                 and will be a natural outcome of quality
incarnations in our field. Throughout the           programs that include all of the required
ages, it has been shaped by martial, medical,       content areas. The first step for Iowa
and pedagogical forces, and connected to            schools,     districts,   and    communities
numerous descriptors such as corrective,            interested in reshaping their physical
preventive, military, orthopedic, medical,          education curricula is to look beyond their
developmental,      creative,     educational,      current model and think carefully about
applied, remedial, and primitive.                   what is best for the physical development of
         Methods and materials for school           our youth. Then, with clear minds and firm
gymnastics in the physical education                resolve to do what is right, all involved
curriculum will vary depending upon the             should begin working to meet the content
grade level, teacher competency, and the            standards mandated in Chapter 12.
amount of community and school support.                     Our children and youth deserve
Just as Swedish, German, Czechoslovakian,           quality physical education programs that
and other European-based gymnastics                 meet or exceed State standards, and we
systems borrowed freely from the past and           must all be on guard to protect stunts,
each other in the early years of our                tumbling, gymnastics, physical fitness, and
profession, so can today’s physical                 other critical skills from those who want to
educators find numerous curricular models,          lower the bar. Model programs and
past and present, from which to form their          progressive communities that demand and
own gymnastic programs.                             support cutting-edge physical education will
                                                    help us all defend the Chapter 12 vision.


                                Non est vivere sed valere vita


IAHPERD Journal, Spring 2003                                                           7
                                                  Journal of Physical Education, Recreation
                                                  and Dance, pp. 20-24.

                                                  Davenport Schools. (1911).       Course of
                                                  study-elementary schools, part V, physical
                                                  culture. Davenport School District.

                                                  Fait, H. F. (1972).     Special physical
                                                  education—adapted,             corrective,
                                                  developmental.      Philadelphia: W.B.
                                                  Saunders.

Iowa’s youth will profit from physical            Horne, F. L. (1943). Stunts and tumbling
education programs that include rational          for girls. New York: Ronald Press.
progression, variety, and precision.
                                                  McCloy, C. H. & Young, N. D. (1945). The
References                                        Iowa program of physical education for
                                                  boys—Secondary schools. Des Moines, IA:
Althoff, S. A., Heyden, M. H., & Robertson,       Department of Public Instruction.
L. D. (1988, September). Back to the
basics--Whatever happened to posture?             Smith, N. (1891).      Education without
                                                  deformity. London: Stephen Austin & Sons.


                  Ed Thomas is a health and physical educator with over 20
                  years of teaching experience at numerous universities. He can
                  be reached through www.ihpra.org.




IAHPERD Journal, Spring 2003                                                       8

								
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