How we understand the emergence and development of motor behavior and skillfulness has itself developed over the last 50 years. In reflecting on the history of motor development, it is important to recognize that these ‘reflections’ are much like the painter’s “pentimento.” That is, the ‘canvas’ we paint today of what our science was decades ago is actually a painting with many layers—each representing where our views have changed along the journey. I do not “repent” with these reflections, as suggested by the term, pentimento, but rather I seek to bring a developmental perspective to our scientific inquiries into motor development with an element of a revisionist’s approach. What were the key discoveries and the seminal papers that influenced our canvas of motor development that we view today? Almost three decades ago, we (Clark & Whitall, 1989) outlined an historical framework for the field of motor development. Today, we can look back at that framework and the ensuing science and consider where we have been and what we have learned and ask: What does the pentimento of our motor development canvas reveal?
Jessie N. Stapleton, Diane E. Mack, and Kathleen A. Martin Ginis
The aim of this meta-analysis was to examine the magnitude of the relationship between social influence and both PA behavior and PA-related social cognitions among samples of adults with physical disabilities, including those with chronic conditions that can lead to a physical disability. A comprehensive literature search was conducted to identify studies involving adults with physical disability, a measure of social influence, and a measure of PA behavior or PA-related social cognitions. A total of 27 studies with 4,768 participants yielded 47 effect sizes to be included for meta-analysis. Significant, small- to medium-sized relationships were identified between social influence and PA behavior, and social influence and PA-related social cognitions. These relationships suggest that social factors positively associate with physical-activity-related social cognitions and should be targeted when promoting physical activity behavior change among adults with a physical disability.
The experiences of women in physical education history from the nineteenth century forward offer us valuable insights toward a better understanding of the discipline since its inception. The deeply gendered histories of women in the profession are contingent upon the ways in which they intersect with other identities, including class, race, and sexuality. Dominant gender ideologies were reinforced and resisted in women’s physical education, making it a significant location to understand how bodies were constructed and reconstructed within ever-changing societal definitions of gender and athletic femininity. The contradictions and complexities that emerge as a result of the many gender tensions in play over the course of this history produce a rich site to more completely understand the discipline’s past and future.
Hal A. Lawson and R. Scott Kretchmar
Debates-as-battles have characterized the histories of physical education and kinesiology. This colorful part of the field’s history was characterized by leaders’ narrow, rigid views, and it paved the way for divisiveness, excessive specialization, and fragmentation. Today’s challenge is to seek common purpose via stewardship-oriented dialogue, and it requires a return to first order questions regarding purposes, ethics, values, moral imperatives, and social responsibilities. These questions are especially timely insofar as kinesiology risks running on a kind of automatic pilot, seemingly driven by faculty self-interests and buffered from consequential changes in university environments and societal contexts. A revisionist history of kinesiology’s origins and development suggests that it can be refashioned as a helping discipline, one that combines rigor, relevance, and altruism. It gives rise to generative questions regarding what a 21st century discipline prioritizes and does, and it opens opportunity pathways for crossing boundaries and bridging divides. Three sets of conclusions illuminate unrealized possibilities for a vibrant, holistic kinesiology—a renewed discipline that is fit for purpose in 21st century contexts.
Roberta J. Park
The 1964 article “Physical Education, An Academic Discipline” did much to foster more and better relevant research, which is what its author, Franklin Henry, who had earned a PhD in Physiological Psychology, had hoped would occur. However, a number of negative changes (which he certainly did not want) soon began to occur in the field of physical education, which now too rarely uses that name. (Few, if any, other departments in universities and colleges have made as many name changes.) The precipitous decline of efforts to put into practice the results of research (hence, the absence of pedagogy and other “applied” courses in too many curricula) is proving to be especially detrimental. American children and young people had become so inactive that the United States Department of Health and Human Services considered it imperative to state in Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General (published in 1996): “Community leaders need to reexamine whether enough resources have been devoted to the maintenance of parks, playgrounds, community centers, and physical education. Schools and universities need to reintroduce daily, quality physical activity as a key component of a comprehensive education.” This decline has continued in spite of the fact that the number of scientific and medical studies that verify the importance of physical activity continues to grow. The field once known almost exclusively as “physical education” has become divided and fractured. When will things change for the better?
Alison M. Wrynn and Paulina A. Rodriguez Burciaga
The story of the origin of today’s National Academy of Kinesiology begins in 1904 when Luther Halsey Gulick made the first attempt at creating an Academy. Due to various factors, this effort waned. In 1926, Clark Hetherington called together four of his colleagues to initiate what we now recognize as the Academy. This article will describe and provide an analysis of the stories of the first 10 members of the Academy as well as provide the context within which the Academy emerged.
In this paper I view the history of kinesiology in America through the lens of a shifting academic landscape where physical culture and building acted upon each other to reflect emergent views concerning the nature of training in physical education and scientific developments around human movement. It is also an organizational history that has been largely lived in the gymnasium and the laboratory from its inception in the late nineteenth century to its current arrangements in the academy. Historians have referred to this in appropriately embodied terms as the head and the heart of physical education, and of course the impact of gender, class, and race was ever present. I conclude that the profession/discipline conundrum in kinesiology that has ebbed and flowed in the shifting spaces and carefully organized places of the academy has not gone away in the twenty-first century and that the complexities of today’s training require more fertile and flexible collaborative approaches in research, teaching, and professional training.
David K. Wiggins, Maureen R. Weiss, and R. Scott Kretchmar
Karl M. Newell
In this paper I discuss briefly some traditional and contemporary issues that challenge the academic structure of the field of Kinesiology. These include the long-standing polemics of the profession-discipline debate and the fragmentation of the academic content knowledge, together with the more recent challenges of education or health as the umbrella construct and the relation of kinesiology to physical and occupational therapy. It appears that the essence of our persistent problems remains, but it is augmented with related and more contemporary issues. Thus, these continue to be challenging times in kinesiology, as they are for higher education in general, reinforcing the long-held notion that change is the one constant.
Maureen M. Smith and Katherine M. Jamieson
Traditional histories of kinesiology generally read as chronological narratives of progress that highlight advancements in performance and technology; pioneering work by faculty and coaches (all White and very often male); the role of physical education in solving America’s crises of masculinity and military preparedness, and now obesity; and finally, stories of harmonious integration where sport serves as a meritocracy and level playing field. These narratives of progress remain prominent in many of the histories of our subdisciplines. Seven “snapshots” of moments in the history of kinesiology are utilized to illustrate often marginalized histories that reflect the profession’s role in creating and reinforcing racial hierarchies. Concluding remarks outline an anti-racist framing of kinesiology that may be worth pondering and outlining, especially as a way to link our subdisciplinary inquiries toward a goal of enhancing quality of life through meaningful, life-long physical activity for all.