Guest Post: The History and Development of Physical Education

Today, physical education is an integral part of every school’s curriculum. Children and teens require regular physical activity to develop and exercise their motor skills, so it’s not a surprise that this type of education found its way into schools. So how did we get to physical education being so important and how did it manage to keep up with the times?

Origins of physical education

Physical education is not a new invention. Its origins started in Ancient Greece where over 2400 years ago, Plato mentioned PE in his famous work “The Republic” which highlights the two types of necessary education—education of the mind and education of the body. In Ancient Greece, boys and young men were taught PE in gymnasiums that mostly focused on gymnastics. At that time, people celebrated a healthy and capable body through competitions in gymnastics and Olympic Game races and different events. Even though very different from today’s PE, we have these humble origins to thank for introducing physical activity into all our lives.

Modern physical education

In the late 1790s, physical education was taught in Germany by certain experts. A gentleman called Charles Beck decided to spread PE awareness across the world by traveling to France, Switzerland and America and promoting the importance of physical activity for kids. Beck was hired by a Massachusetts school and became the first official PE teacher in the States. At that time, PE teachers mostly relied on teaching gymnastics and some sports.

PE development

It is evident that not all kids are able to be included in isolated physical activity. Luckily, PE knowledge today is better than ever and teachers are shifting focus from competition to fun, participation and teamwork. Many schools are ditching grades in PE because they only associate physical activity with stress. Instead, kids are encouraged to play, work as a team and enjoy physical activity in a whole new way. With greater knowledge of the field, physical elements of PE have also changed, and not it includes a variety of activities that activate the entire body, require different skills and techniques and also exercise the brain.

Future of PE

As we can see from the paragraph above, the future of PE is looking very bright. Teachers and trainers are focusing on educating students on how to take their fitness into their own hands and how to prioritize fitness in the future. It’s crucial to make fitness fun and stress-free for everyone in order to spark motivation and prolong physical activity. It’s also evident how important it is to start PE from an early age. Luckily, with modular classrooms that adjust to kids’ and teachers’ needs, it’s possible to perform physical activities while kids are in kindergarten and preschool. Modular classrooms are large and full of movable furniture so it’s easy to make space for fun activities that will create good fitness habits and inspire kids to stay active in the future.

PE after COVID-19

The pandemic of COVID-19 affected the education of almost all kids in the world. While all subjects suffered to an extent due to homeschooling and remote lessons, physical education seemed to suffer the most. Kids lost access to school gyms and sports practice and the biggest burden fell onto the parents who were obliged to provide their kids with physical activity at home. Some schools did try to incorporate virtual PE, but according to data, kids did much less physical activity during lockdowns. So what solutions can be proposed to ensure kids in the future get enough PE no matter what? Experts recommend the blending of PE with gaming, providing kids with a very fun and competitive way to exercise at home. There are already games that promote physical activity, but some specially created for educational purposes might start popping up in the future. This way, kids will be more interested to keep up with their PE and feel like they are playing video games or playing with their peers.

The importance of PE is very evident. Physical education carries many physical, mental, social and educational benefits. Regular activity keeps kids away from various diseases, fights depression and stress and improves grades and concentration. Physical education certainly changed from its early days, but it’s still a very important part of every curriculum. In the future, it will still stay an important tool for improving kids’ health, mobility and social skills.

About the Author:

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to home improvement, DIY and interior design. In her free time she enjoys reading and preparing healthy meals for her family.

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