Discipline, Character, Health: The Evolution of Physical Education for Boys in Nordic Secondary Schools 1880-1940

Meinander, Carl Henrik (1990) Discipline, Character, Health: The Evolution of Physical Education for Boys in Nordic Secondary Schools 1880-1940. MLitt(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis is a study of the evolution of the educational ideas and practices that shaped physical education for secondary school boys in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden between 1880 and 1940. The study analyses the developments in these four Nordic countries from a comparative perspective and this has required a distinct limitation of the empirical material. Special attention therefore is given to the evolution of physical education in the four Nordic capitals, Christiania/Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsingfors and Stockholm, which, apart from being mid-points of the four societies, were administrative centres for educational systematisation and the only places where authorised teacher training could be undertaken. Educational practice in the four countries are illustrated indirectly through an analysis of the conditions in sample schools in the capitals. The inquiry has two main aims. Firstly, it seeks to reconstruct the evolution of physical education in the four capitals in particular and by extension in the four countries in general. Secondly, it attempts to analyse in what ways and to what extent contemporary ideas about this section of secondary education were reflections of the dominant "Nordic" bourgeois outlook on schooling and the associated ideal of manliness. It is argued in the earlier part of this study that the Nordic ideals of a common heritage and corporate solidarity had considerable vitality during the period in question in fields like cul- tural collaboration and educational reform. The educated classes in the four countries saw their Nordic neighbours as their natural reference group and were much influenced by each other in the period of the modernisation of their national secondary education systems. This Nordic interaction also had a significant impact on the assimilation and adaptation of the modern "sport culture", which began to spread from Britain into the Nordic region during the 1880s and which revolutionised leisure habits and practices and influenced middle class education. In the later part of the study attention is focused on the different dimensions of the systematisation and modernisation of physical education as a compulsory subject for Nordic secondary school boys. It is claimed that its legal endorsement in the 1860s and 1870s was the outcome of its perceived role as preparation for national service, which was introduced simultaneously in each of the four countries. Legal action was later closely linked to larger societal transformations such as educational systematisation and an increasing emphasis on health care. The comparison of developments in the four countries reveals a number of reasons why Sweden and Denmark were in advance of Finland and Norway in many aspects of physical education until the Second World War. It was not only that the Swedish and Danish teacher training institutes were established during the Napoleonic Age, whereas the Norwegian and Finnish counterparts were created during the last three decades of the nineteenth century, but also that at the end of the last century the Swedes had the advantage of having a uniform didactic system, the so-called Ling gymnastics, and a more centralised school system, through which the method could be effectively spread. For their part the Danes gained markedly from an early and thorough modernisation of teacher training, which was carried out at the turn of the century. Nevertheless, national differences were reduced substantially during the 1920s and 1930s. The thesis seeks to show that this development was caused largely by the increasingly sport-oriented curriculum, which weakened national traditions and established new and more international practices in all the Nordic countries. The arguments used in the propagation of physical education for Nordic secondary school boys were strongly influenced by the changing values of bourgeois education and an evolving notion of the ideal of manliness. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).

Item Type: Thesis (MLitt(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Education history, Physical education
Date of Award: 1990
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1990-78235
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2020 12:09
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2020 12:09
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/78235

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