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Physical Fitness--The Schools and the Defense

by Clifford L. Brownell - 1941

During the summer of 1940 the faculty of Teachers College developed the Creed of Democracy under the leadership of Professor Thomas H. Briggs. This and the associated documents have had a far-flung influence. Every department of Teachers College probably has members on Defense Committees and Emergency Committees and in similar activities in their particular fields—members who will gladly be of service to teachers and school administrators anywhere by furnishing information on specific questions. To facilitate the process of getting together persons interested in the same fields, Dean William F. Russell asked Professor Paul R. Mort to serve as a correlating agent. As a result, several committees were appointed. During the year additional faculty members were drawn into various defense activities outside the College. Conferences of the committee chairmen during the Summer School of 1941 led to the plan of holding a meeting at which persons concerned with various aspects of the defense problem would present brief statements of their activities. The purpose was to help teachers build a picture of what might be done by the schools on their own initiative. Professor Benjamin R. Andrews was instrumental in preparing the present document to supplement these verbal statements with brief accounts of what some of the Teachers College Staff are doing in defense work and with suggestions of services that teachers everywhere can render to promote community stability and welfare at present and also the protection and improvement of the position of America on into the post-emergency period. Teachers should be ready to initiate local leadership in their own communities by consulting with municipal officials and bringing together informal groups to canvass the local situation, getting in touch with their governors and such national agencies as may be necessary, in order to provide local committees to undertake such community services.

The department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, in conjunction with Professor Engelhardt's committee, has prepared two publications: (a) Attention! To Your Health (Ernest I. Stewart); (b) a handbook on recreation for the selectee (William J. Pitt); and has issued a pamphlet dealing with a program of health and physical education in national preparedness which was sent to former students in health and physical education at Teachers College. Copies of this pamphlet are available. The department gave a course in the second semester, 1940-1941, entitled "Recreational Leadership for Military Service," to prepare young men to assume positions as recreational leaders in military and naval forces. Several who completed this course have already taken positions in the Navy as recreational leaders. This course will be repeated in the Spring Session, 1941-1942.

The department recommends that schools everywhere enlarge the program of health and physical education to include:

1. A complete medical, physical, and, if necessary, psychiatric examination for all students.

2. An adequate follow-up program of student, parental, and community responsibility for surgical relief and medical care.

3. Attention to matters pertaining to healthful environment, such as ventilation, heating, lighting, furniture, lavatory facilities, rest rooms, discipline, and arrangement of the school day.

4. Instruction in public health, including the prevention of communicable disease, vaccines, serum, and antitoxin therapy.

5. Instruction in such items of personal hygiene as: the minimum essentials of diet and nutrition; personal cleanliness; daily elimination; the deleterious effects of alcohol, tobacco, and narcotics; the desirable effects of exercises of speed, endurance, and strength upon the circulatory, respiratory, muscular, digestive, endocrine, and nervous systems of the body; the proper care of the eyes, ears, nose, throat, skin, and other organs; the essentials of mental hygiene; and the importance of desirable boy and girl relationships.

6. Instruction and practice in safety education, including first aid, methods of transporting injured persons and of artificial respiration.

7. A wide variety of physical activities that will insure strength, poise, good posture, physical fitness, and pride in personal appearance.

The department recommends that the schools everywhere help develop adequate programs of community recreation for all children, young people, and adults; and where conditions make it desirable, for young men from the training camps and for groups in the defense industry. As the nation will play together, national unity and morale will be promoted.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 43 Number 1, 1941, p. 7-9
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 9048, Date Accessed: 1/16/2022 5:49:44 PM

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About the Author
  • Clifford Brownell
    Professor of Physical Education, Teachers College

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