EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH / Vol. 2, No. 4, 191-202 / ISSN 2165-8714 Copyright © 2013 EUJER
“Bikini Girls” exercising, Sicily, 4th C. AD
Harmandar Demirel & Yıldıran / Dumlupinar University, Gazi University, Turkey
(I’ve broken the text into shorter paragraphs for easier reading and omitted some introductory material. Complete pdf is about 8 pages. I’ve high-lightened a few main ideas and vocabulary.)
My general comment is that American Public Education is essentially less “sophisticated” than even Ancient Greece and Rome; a disgrace and “Medieval”…
An Overview from the Ancient Age to the Renaissance
The Greek educational ideal which emerged during the 8th – 6th centuries B.C. aimed at developing general fitness via “gymnastics” and the “music” of the body; that is, the development of body and spirit in a harmonic body and, in this way, providing a beautiful body, mental development and spiritual and moral hygiene. These are expressed by the word Kalokagathia, meaning both beautiful and good, based on the words “Kalos” and “Agathos” (Aytaç, 1980; Alpman, 1972). Thus, the use of physical training and sport as the most suitable means as discussed first in Ancient Greece (Yildiran, 2005). To achieve the ideal of kalokagathia, three conditions were required: nobility, correct behaviour and careful teaching (Yildiran, 2011). Physical beauty (kalos) did not refer just to external appearance; it also referred to mental health. Humans who had these qualifications were considered ideal humans (kalokagathos) (Bohus, 1986). The idea of the Kalokagathia ideal, which was developed during the early classical age, had seen archaic-aristocratic high value “arete”s thinned and deepened (Popplow, 1972).
The vital point of aristocratic culture was physical training; in a sense, it was sport. The children were prepared for various sport competitions under the supervision of a paidotribes (a physical education teacher) and learned horse riding, discus and javelin throwing, long jumping, wrestling and boxing. The aim of the sport was to develop and strengthen the body, and hence, the character (Duruskken, 2001). In Ancient Greece, boys attended wrestling schools because it was believed that playing sports beautified the human spirit as well as the body (Balcı, 2008). The palaestra was a special building within ancient gymnasiums where wrestling and physical training were practiced (Saltuk, 1990). The education practiced in this era covered gymnastic training and music education, and its aim was to develop a heroic mentality, but only for royalty. With this goal in mind, education aimed to discipline the body, raising an agile warrior by developing a cheerful and brave spirit (Aytac, 1980).
The feasts which were held to worship the gods in Ancient Greece began for the purpose of ending civil wars. All sport-centred activities were of religious character. As the ancient Olympic Games were of religious origin, they were conducted in Olympia. (Home of the gods) Over time, running distances increased, new and different games were added to the schedule, soldiers began to use armour in warfare, art and philosophy were understood better and great interest was shown in the Olympic Games; therefore, the program was enriched and changed, and the competitions were increased from one to five days (Er et al., 2005). However, the active or passive attendance of married women was banned at the ancient Olympic Games for religious reasons (Memis and Yıldıran, 2011). The Olympic Games had an important function as one of the elements aimed at uniting the ancient Greeks culturally, but this ended when the games were banned by Emperor Theodosius 1st in 393-4 A.D. (Balci, 2008).
Sparta, which is located in the present-day Mora peninsula, was an agricultural state that had been formed by the immigration of Dors from the 8th century B.C. Spartan education provided an extremely paternalistic education, which sought the complete submergence of the individual in the citizen and provided him with the attributes of courage, complete obedience and physical perfection (Cordasco, 1976). In Sparta, where the foundations of social order constituted iron discipline, military proficiency, strictness and absolute obedience, the peaceful stages of life had the character of a “preparation for the war school” (Aytac, 1980). The essential thing that made Hellenic culture important was its gaining new dimensions with distinctive creative power regarding cultural factors that this culture had adopted from the ancient east, and its revealing of the concept of the “perfect human” (Iplikcioglu, 1997).
Children stayed with their family until they were seven years old; from this age, they were assigned to the state-operated training institutes where they were trained strictly in war and state tasks. Strengthening the body and preparing for war took a foremost place in accordance with the military character of the state. Girls were also given a strict military training (Aytac, 1980). The same training given to the boys was also given to the girls. The most prominent example of this is the girls and boys doing gymnastics together (Russel, 1969). Although physical training and music education were included, reading, writing and arithmetic were barely included in Spartan education (Binbasioglu, 1982).
Unlike Sparta, the classical period of Athenian democracy (Athens had advanced trade and industry) included the Persian Wars and Peloponnese Wars, and Cleisthenes’ democratic reforms and the ending of sea domination in domestic policy. As this democracy covered “the independent layer”, it took the form of an “aristocratic democracy” (Aytaç, 1980). Learning was given great importance in the Athenian democracy. The sons of independent citizens received education in grammar and at home or private school. Music education and gymnastic training were carried out in “Gymnasiums” and “Palestrae”, which were built and controlled by the state; running areas were called “Dramos”, and chariot race areas were termed “Hippodromes” (Aytac, 1980). Children older than 12 years started receiving sports training and music education in Athens, where the military training was barely included.
Athenians insisted on the aesthetical and emotional aspects of education. Therefore, the best art works of the ancient world were created in this country (Binbasioglu, 1982). As in the 5th century B.C., Greek education was unable to appropriately respond to new developments; Sophists emphasised the development of traditional education in terms of language and rhetoric in an attempt to overcome the crisis. Sophists provided education in the morals, law, and the natural sciences in addition to the trivium, grammar, rhetoric, dialectic) (Aytac, 1980).
Greeks considered physical training prudent and important because it developed the body and organised games conducive to the gathering of large crowds; in these games, all regions of Greece were represented (Balci, 2008). Rome constitutes the second most important civilisation of the Ancient age. In Rome, the family played the strongest role in education, and the state did not have much say or importance. While exercise constituted the means of education in Ancient Rome, the purpose of this education was “to raise a good citizen”, such that each person had a skilled, righteous and steady character. Physical training was provided in addition to courses such as mythology, history, geography, jurisprudence, arithmetic, geometry and philosophy; this training was provided in Grammar schools, where basic teaching covered the “Seven free arts” (Aytac, 1980).
Due to the Scholastic structure of the Middle Ages, values respecting the human were forgotten. However, the “Renaissance” movement, which started in Europe and whose ideas inform the modern world, developed many theories related to education and physical training and attempted to apply this in various ways; the development of these ideas was continued in “The Age of Enlightenment”.
The Renaissance General Aspects of the Renaissance
The word renaissance means “rebirth”; in this period, artists and philosophers tried to discover and learn the standards of Ancient Rome and Athens (Perry et al., 1989). In the main, the Renaissance represented a protest of individualism against authority in the intellectual and social aspects of life (Singer, 1960). Renaissance reminded “Beauty’’ lovers of the development of a new art and imagination. From the perspective of a scientist, the Renaissance represented innovation in ancient sciences, and from the perspective of a jurist, it was a light shining over the shambles of old traditions.
Human beings found their individuality again during this era, in which they tried to understand the basics of nature and developed a sense of justice and logic. However, the real meaning of “renaissance” was to be decent and kind to nature (Michelet, 1996). The Renaissance was shaped in Italy beginning from the 1350s as a modern idea contradicting the Middle Ages. The creation of a movement for returning to the old age with the formidable memories of Rome naturally seemed plausible (Mcneill, 1985). New ideas that flourished in the world of Middle Age art and developed via various factors did not just arise by accident; incidents and thoughts that developed in a social context supported it strongly (Turani, 2003). Having reached its climax approximately in the 1500s, the Italian Renaissance constituted the peak of the Renaissance; Leonardo da Vinci observed the outside world, people and objects captiously via his art and Niccolo Machiavelli’s drastically analysed nature and use of politics through his personal experiences and a survey of classical writers (Mcneill, 1985).
The Concept of Education and Approaches to Physical Training during the Renaissance
The humanist education model, which was concordant with the epitomes of the Renaissance, was a miscellaneous, creative idea. Its goal was to create an all-round advanced human being, “homo universale”. At the same time, such an educational epitome necessarily gained an aristocratic character. This educational epitome no longer provided education to students at school (Aytac, 1980).
In 14th century, the “humanist life epitome” was claimed. The humanism movement was gradually developing and spreading; however, in this phase, humanism-based formation or practice was not in question. In the history of humanity, the humanism period has been acknowledged as a ‘transitional period’. Modern civilisation and education is based on this period. Philosophers, such as Erasmus, Rabelais, Montaigne and Luther, flourished during this period. Universities began to multiply, and latitudinarianism was created. Scholastic thought was shaken from its foundations at the beginning of this period via the influence of Roger Bacon (scientist), who lived during the 13th Century.
Original forms of works constituting the culture of Ancient Athens and Rome were found, read, and recreated concordantly; moreover, the ideas of latitudinarian, old educators such as Quintilianus were practiced. In teaching methods, formulae enabling pupils to improve their skills and abilities were adopted. Students started to learn outdoors, in touch with nature. Strict disciplinary methods gave way to rather tolerant methods. The importance and value of professional education were acknowledged (Binbasioglu, 1982). Positive sciences, such as history, geography and natural history were not given a place in the classroom for a long time, but Latin preserved its place until recent times (Aytac, 1980).
With Desiderius von Erasmus, who was alive during the height of European humanism, humanism adopted its first scientific principle: “Return to sources!’’; for this reason, the works of ancient writers were published. Erasmus’ educational epitome consists of a humanist-scientific formulation; however, it does not externalise the moral-religious lifestyle. Having worked to expand humanity into higher levels, Erasmus summarises the conditions for this quest as follows: good teachers, a useful curriculum, good pedagogical methods, and paying attention to personal differences among pupils. With these ideas, Erasmus represents the height of German humanist pedagogy (Aytaç, 1980).
Notice the antagonistic set up between faith and science we still experience today in the U.S.?
On the other hand, Martin Luther considered universities as institutions where “all kinds of iniquity took place, there was little faith to sacred values, and the profane master Aristotle was taught imprudently” and he demanded that schools and especially universities be inspected. Luther thought that schools and universities should teach religiously inclined youth in a manner heavily dependent on the Christian religion (Aytac, 1980). Alongside these ideas, Luther made statements about the benefits of chivalric games and training, and of wrestling and jumping to health, which, in his opinion, could make the body more fit (Alpman, 1972).
The French philosopher Michel de Montaigne, known for his “Essays”, was a lover of literature who avoided any kind of extreme and was determined, careful and balanced. In his opinion, the aim of education was to transfer “ethical and scientific knowledge via experiments’’ to pupils. De Montaigne believed that a person’s skills and abilities in education, which can be called natural powers, are more important than or even superior to logic and society (Binbasioglu, 1982). The Humanist movement has played a very significant role in educational issues. This movement flourished in order to resurrect the art and culture of ancient Athens and Rome with their formidable aspects, thereby enabling body and soul to improve concordantly with the education of humans (Alpman, 1972). Humanism was not a philosophical system but a cultural and educational program (Kristeller, 1961).
Note that in the United States, current public education is obsessed with “social engineering” based on two religious ideologies: (1. liberal / puritanical – (social and psychological theory-based; conformity to prescriptive “absolutes” of human behavior.) 2. evangelical – anti-science, faith-based denial of reality; socio-emotional fervor.) These competing religious systems have replaced a brief period of “humanist” academic emphasis; the arts and physical education have been jettisoned, supposedly due to “budget” limitations… but this elimination of “expressions of individual human value” is a choice made by parents and educators to “ban” secular ideals from education)
The necessity of physical training along with education of soul and mind has been emphasised; for this reason, physical practices and games have been suggested for young people. It is possible to see how the humanists formed the foundations of the Renaissance, beginning from the 14th century to the 18th century and working from Italy to Spain, Germany, France and England. Almost all of the humanists stated the significance of physical training in their written works on education (Alpman, 1972).
One of the humanists, Vittorino da Feltre may have viewed it as the most pleasant goal of his life to raise a group of teenagers and fed and educated poor but talented children at his home (Burckhardt, 1974). Feltre practiced a classical education in his school called “Joyful Residence”. In accord with Ancient Greek education concepts, he claimed that benefits were provided by the education of body and soul through daily exercises such as swimming, riding and swordplay, and generating love towards nature via hiking; he also emphasised the importance of games and tournaments (Alpman, 1972; Aytac, 1980). Enea Silvio de Piccolomini is also worthy of attention; alongside his religious character, he thought that physical training should be emphasised and that beauty and power should be improved in this way (Alpman, 1972). de Piccolomini attracted attention to the importance of education as a basis for body and soul while stressing the importance of avoiding things that cause laxity, games and resting (Aytac, 1980). Juan Ludwig Vives, a systematic philosopher who had multiple influences, in one of his most significant works “De Tradendis Disciplinis”, which was published in 1531, advised such practices as competitive ball playing, hiking, jogging, wrestling and braggartism, beginning from the age of 15 (Alpman, 1972).
The German humanist Joachim Camerarius, who managed the academic gymnasium in the city of Nürnberg, is also very important in relation to this subject. Having practicing systematic physical training at the school in which he worked, Camerarius wrote his work, “Dialogus de Cymnasis”, which refers to the pedagogical and ethical values of Greek gymnastics. In this work, he stressed such practices as climbing, jogging, wrestling, swordplay, jumping, stone throwing and games that were practiced by specially selected children according to their ages and physical abilities, all under the supervision of experienced teachers (Alpman, 1972). The Italian Hieronymus Mercurialis’ De Arte Gymnastica, first published in Latin in Venice in 1569, contained very little on the Olympic Games. Indeed, the author was hostile to the idea of competitive athletics. The Frenchman Petrus Faber’s Agonisticon (1592), in its 360 pages of Latin text, brought together in one place many ancient texts concerning the Olympics but was disorganised, repetitive and often unclear (Lee, 2003). The first part of the De Arte Gymnastica included the definition of Ancient Greek gymnastics and an explanation of actual terminology whereas the second part contained precautions about the potential harms of exercises practiced in the absence of a doctor. Moreover, he separated gymnastics practised for health reasons from military gymnastics (Alpman, 1972).
Note the military requirement for it’s personnel to be “physically fit” compared to the general U.S. population, (including children), which is chronically obese, sedentary and unhealthy. “Being physically fit” (at least the appearance of) is now a status symbol of the wealth classes and social celebrities, requiring personal trainers, expensive spa and gym facilities, and high-tech gadgets and equipment.
The Transition to the Age of Enlightenment: Reformation, Counter-reformation and the Age of Method
The Age of Reformation: The most significant feature of European cultural life during this age was the dominant role played by religious issues, unlike the Renaissance in Italy (Mcneill, 1985). This age symbolises the uprising of less civilised societies against logic-dominated Italy (Russell, 2002). Bearing a different character from Renaissance and Humanism, the Reformation did not stress improvements in modern art or science, but rather improvements in politics and the Church; consonant with this, its education epitome emphasised being religious and dependent on the Church. Nevertheless, both Humanism and the Reformation struggled against Middle Ages scholasticism, and both appreciated the value of human beings (Aytac, 1980).
The Counter-reformation Movement: In this period, which includes the movement of the Catholic church to retake privileges that it had lost due to the Reformation, the “Jesuit Sect’’ was founded to preach, confess and collect “perverted minds’’ once again under the roof of the Catholic church via teaching activities (Aytac, 1980).
The Age of Method: Also known as the Age of Practice, this period saw efforts to save people from prejudice, and principles for religion, ethics, law and state were sought to provide systematic knowledge in a logic-based construction. Aesthetic educational approaches, which were ignored by religion and the Church because of the attitudes prevailing during the Reformation and Counterreformation, were given fresh emphasis. Bacon, Locke, Ratke, Komensky, Descartes and Comenius are among the famous philosophers who lived during this period (Aytac, 1980).
The Age of Enlightenment General Features and Educational Concepts of the Enlightenment
The Enlightenment Period had made itself clear approximately between 1680 and 1770 or even 1780. Science developed into separate disciplines, literature became an independent subject, and it was demanded that history also become independent (Chaunu, 2000). During this period, educators transformed the concept of education from preparing students for the afterlife into preparing them for the world around them, so that they could be free and enlightened.
Moreover, educators of the period were usually optimistic and stressed the importance of study and work. At school, students were educated in such a way as to engrain a love of nature and human beings. Based on these ideas, learning was undertaken by experiment and experience (Binbasioglu, 1982). William Shakespeare mentioned the concept of “Fair Play” and the ideas of “maintain equality of opportunity” and “show the cavalier style of thinking” at the end of the 16th century; by the 18th century, these ideas were included in sport (Gillmeister, 1988). Systematic changes in the foundations of the principles of fair play that occurred in the 19th century were directly related to the socio-cultural structure of Victorian England (Yildiran, 1992).
The Concept of Physical Training during the Enlightenment and Its Pioneers Ideas and epitomes produced prior to this period were ultimately practiced in this period. Respected educators of the period stressed the significance of physical training, which appealed only to the aristocracy during the Renaissance; simulating the education system of the Ancient Age, educators started to address everyone from all classes and their views spread concordantly in this period.
John Locke: The Enlightenment reached maturity during the mid-to late eighteenth century. John Locke, a lead player in this new intellectual movement (Faiella, 2006), was likely the most popular political philosopher during the first part of the 18th century, who stressed the necessity of education (Perry et al., 1989). Locke’s “Essay on Human Intellect” is acknowledged as his most prominent and popular work (Russell, 2002). His work, “Notions of Education” stressed the importance of child health, advised children to learn swimming and to maintain their fitness. Moreover, Locke noted that such activities as dance, swordplay and riding were essential for a gentleman (Alpman, 1972) and that education should be infused with game play (Binbaşıoğlu, 1982).
Jean Jacques Rousseau: in his work, Emile, the philosopher from Geneva discussed educational matters in regard to the principles of nature (Russell, 2002). In this work, which he wrote in (1762) Rousseau argued that individuals should learn from nature, human beings or objects (Perry et al., 1989), and expressed his notions concerning the education of children and teenagers (Binbasioglu, 1982). Rousseau held that children should be allowed to develop and learn according to their natural inclinations, but in Emile, this goal was achieved by a tutor who cunningly manipulated his pupil’s responses (Damrosch, 2007). The aforesaid education was termed “Natural education’’ of the public or “education which will create natural human beings’’ (Aytaç, 1980). Emile exercised early in the morning because he needed strength, and because a strong body was the basic requirement for a healthy soul. Running with bare feet, high jumping, and climbing walls and trees, Emile mastered such skills as jogging, swimming, stone throwing, archery and ball games. Rousseau demanded that every school would have a gymnasium or an area for training (Alpman, 1972).
Continued next post. Time to watch the Olympics!