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.
“Gendering the Gym”: A History of Women in Physical Education
A Generative Synthesis for Kinesiology: Lessons from History and Visions for the 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.
Is Today’s Physical Education the Legacy that Franklin Henry Had Hoped For?
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?
Origin Stories: Reflections on the First Ten Members of the National Academy of Kinesiology
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.
A Question of the Head and the Heart: From Physical Education to Kinesiology in the Gymnasium and the Laboratory
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.
Reflections on Kinesiology: Past, Present, and Future
David K. Wiggins, Maureen R. Weiss, and R. Scott Kretchmar
Reflections on Kinesiology: Persistent Issues and Contemporary Challenges
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.
The Way We Never Were: Postracial Kinesiology and America
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.
Beyond Prometheus, Strawmen, and Science Fiction: Ethicists and the Moral Debate Over Enhancements to Human Performance
Human performance enhancement is one of kinesiology’s many vibrant topics for inquiry. Though philosophers in kinesiology departments have offered some contribution to this topic, this paper argues that philosophers could improve their relevance by better engaging the existing scientific research. Rather than simply defending their place at the table, this paper proposes that philosophers build upon existing contributions to the ethics of human enhancement by increasing their scientific literacy. At the same time, this paper argues that certain patterns in philosophical discussions of human enhancement do not connect with scientific researchers. The paper concludes that ultimately philosophers must become more conversant with the language of science if they are going to continue contributing to central questions within the field of kinesiology.
Exercise as Medicine for the Treatment of Brain Dysfunction: Evidence for Cortical Stroke, Cerebellar Ataxia, and Parkinson’s Disease
Yu-Ting Tseng, Sanaz Khosravani, Arash Mahnan, and Jürgen Konczak
This review addresses the role of exercise as an intervention for treating neurological disease. It focuses on three major neurological diseases that either present in acute or neurodegenerative forms—Parkinson’s disease, cerebellar ataxia, and cortical stroke. Each of the diseases affects primarily different brain structures, namely the basal ganglia, the cerebellum, and the cerebrum. These structures are all known to be involved in motor control, and the dysfunction of each structure leads to distinct movement deficits. The review summarizes current knowledge on how exercise can aid rehabilitation or therapeutic efforts. In addition, it addresses the role of robotic devices in enhancing available therapies by reviewing how robot-aided therapies may promote the recovery for stroke survivors. It highlights recent scientific evidence in support of exercise as a treatment for brain dysfunction, but also outlines the still open challenges for unequivocally demonstrating the benefits of exercise.