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JOURNAL OF EDUCATION:
SPECIALLY DESIGNED AS A
Medium of Correspondence
HEADS OF TRAINING COLLEGES, PAROCHIAL CLERGYMEN, AND ALL
JOURNAL OF EDUCATION.
WITHIN the last two or three years attention to this important branch of physical training has, we think, been rather giving way than increasing in this country. Except the circular swing, which is not by any means general, gymnastic apparatus is very rarely to be met with in the playgrounds of our elementary schools; and, if we are not mistaken, only two out of the twelve male training schools are furnished with an adequate supply. There were some hopes, a few years ago, that ere long none of our schools would be left entirely without such apparatus: circular swings rose in great numbers, and in several schools cross-poles and parallel-bars were added to them. The importance of gymnastics as a part of school discipline was, in fact, pretty generally acknowledged, and managers and patrons of schools set to work in good earnest to promote the practice of them. But now the interest on this point has entirely died out, as if everything had been done that was needful; and in schools that have them the gymnastic appurtenances of the play-ground are often allowed to stand unemployed, as monuments of the bygone period when these things were thought worth attention.
What is the reason for this change? Is there a principle of compensation in the elementary education of this country like that which some philosophers attribute to civilisation, according to which our progress in certain respects must be counterbalanced by retrogression in others? We hope not; on the contrary, we feel convinced that our progress in other departments of education has been very materially checked and retarded by our neglect of physical training. We would rather seek the cause in the inability of the schoolmasters to make proper use of the gymnastic apparatus, arising from the absence of any previous training in their own case. If gymnastic exercises are properly attended to at our training colleges we shall soon have them reproduced in our elementary schools, but so long as they are neglected there, we cannot expect to find them successfully taught by the schoolmasters.
In Switzerland, almost all the schools, both primary and secondary, are provided with a manège, or gymnasium, having all the machinery necessary to a complete course of gymnastic exercises-a ladder, climbing ropes and poles, a cross-pole, parallel bars, leaping poles, a vaulting horse, and a large balancing pole. The apparatus is sometimes erected in the open air, sometimes under a covered roof; and many of the schools have both a covered and an uncovered gymnasium. The covered gymnasiums have no floors, but a ground of loose sand, which can be raked up to render it soft. The uncovered gymnasiums are always placed in a field or grass-plot, for the same reason.
VOL. X.-NO. I.