Esthetic Aspects of Physical Education Classes for Girls

Article excerpt

Abstract

In the last few decades it has become necessary to respect pupil's inclination towards physical activity when preparing the curriculum for the school physical education classes. Girls univocally prefer physical activity with esthetic orientation. We observed 38 girls (15.8 years; 54.4 kg; 168.2 cm) at a high school, which took part in eight physical education lessons in rhythmic gymnastics. Accelerometers Caltrac, heart rate monitors Polar and pedometers Omron were used to monitor the physical load and intensity of physical activity. Standardized questionnaires about the girls' attitude toward physical education classes were applied. An emphasis on esthetic presentation resulted in lowered physical load. Girls accepted "estheticization" positively and appreciated the contents of the units.

Introduction

The development of physical education in most school systems was characterized by the struggle for the recognition of girls' physical education and in the last few decades by a struggle for respecting the specificity of physical education for girls. In spite of improvements in the curricula and in the conception of physical education, numerous problems persist. First, the effort to preserve traditions in physical education, national values and educational goals often conflicts with the fast-changing nature of girls' sporting interests and hierarchy of life values. Paradoxically, there are some new trends which "rub out" the boy - girl differences, that is trends toward more aggressive activities and hazardous motor activities, elimination of differences in the popularity between formerly typical boy sports and typical girl sports and games and so on. An important factor is the gradually increasing inclination of boys and girls towards recreationally oriented motor activity, which grows with rising age, and also the increasing interest in those motor activities that can be performed in coeducational institutions.

Starting points and the research problem

The basis of the research problem was an inclination and preference to the conception of movement activities in girls. This preference and the structure of interest in sports of the youth was examined through a standardized questionnaire at 49 elementary schools and 58 middle and high schools in the central Europe. The survey was part of a large project on sporting interests during the years 1996-1998 (Czech Republic, Poland, Germany and Slovak Republic). Altogether 4336 girls participated in the project (Fromel, Novosad, & Svozil, 1999), (Table 1). The findings indicated that girls at elementary, middle and high schools prefer, in absolute majority, the esthetic character of movement activity. This preference is evident in the rank of interests in each sports branch: apart from swimming and skating, dance and aerobics predominate. (Sport branch is understood as a complex term for physical activity of similar type; for example, term "dance" covers all types of dancing activity - Latin, country, disco and so on.)

Table 1 Interest in the character of movement activity

Rank     Elementary and            High schools
         middle schools
         (n=2217 girls)            (n=2119 girls)

1        esthetic                  esthetic
2        fitness                   recreational
3        recreational              health
4        health                    fitness
5        sports (performance)      sports (performance)

At present, however, physical education does not respect and not sufficiently exploit the preferences, in spite of various practical recommendations (Zakrajsek & Carnes, 1986; Zakrajsek, Carnes, & Pettigrew, 1994). One of the causes may be the fact that the esthetic character of movement activity is not so much in the foreground of the interests of PE women teachers and university female students who are preparing for a teaching career. In didactic conceptions in Europe, Grossing (1993) has the most systemic approach to "estheticization". …