Publication Details

Wright, J. (2011). Educacion corporal en Australia: 1870-1910. In P. Scharagrodsky (Eds.), La invencion del "homo gymnasticus": Fragmentos historicos sobre la educacion de los cuerpos en movimento en Occidente (pp. 321-346). Buenos Aires: Prometeo Libros.


Reading through the keys texts on the history of education in Australia one would easily be persuaded to the absence of any form of formal physical education in schools. Drills and even the cadet movement receive scarcely a mention in key texts covering the period such as Barcan’s various histories of education in NSW and Australia (Barcan 1980, 1988), in Smith and Spaull’s (1925) History of Education in NSW and Theobold and Selleck’s (1990) collection Family School and State in Australian History. In one sense these point to what has always been obvious to physical educators, that academic and vocational concerns preoccupy those involved in educational reform and those documenting it. The absence of such references, however, ignores the place that corporeal education had in managing children in schools, the preoccupations with military preparedness and cadet training that were a feature of the period covered in this chapter, and the regular references to drill and health in departmental communications such as the Inspectors’ Reports in the various State Education Gazettes. It also ignores the close relationship between State Departments of Public Instruction and the voluntary teacher led sporting organizations that organised sport for thousands of children in government funded elementary schools and lobbied successfully for compulsory swimming lessons in these schools. On the other hand, the place of sport and games in elite private schools, particularly boys’ schools warrants considerable mention in the histories of these schools, and there is a substantial literature on the place of games in building particular kinds of citizens for the British Empire and the developing nations of the Empire (e.g. Mangan).

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