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Sport and pedagogy

Sport and pedagogy



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Published by Nebojša
Excerpt from the book “Philospohy of Olympism” by Ljubodrag Simonović, Belgrade, 2004.
E-mail :
His blog: http://ljubodragsimonovic.wordpress.com/
Excerpt from the book “Philospohy of Olympism” by Ljubodrag Simonović, Belgrade, 2004.
E-mail :
His blog: http://ljubodragsimonovic.wordpress.com/

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Published by: Nebojša on Aug 09, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Excerpt from the book ÄA New World is Possible³ by Dunja and LjubodragSimonovi, Belgrade, 2007. E-mail:comrade@sezampro.rs 
ÄSports Pedagogy³
Thomas Arnold, the most influential reformer of the British system of education in the XIX century, was one of the first to proclaim Hobbes' principles
bellum omnium contra
homo homini lupus est 
, disguised in Christianmoralistic rhetoric, the fundamental pedagogical principles. Social Darwinism became the basis of the «elitist» pedagogy which was eagerly accepted by Pierrede Coubertin, who built on it, discarding the Christian veil, the foundations of his«utilitarian pedagogy» that became the indisputable basis for physical education both in the fascist Germany and in the whole «civilized world». Its basic aim wasnot «disciplining of the body», but confrontation with senses, Eros, spontaneity,imagination, and the creation of a sado-masochistic character, which means themutilation of a child's personality and his fitting into the model of a submissiveand usable subject. Coubertin clearly indicated that the aim of physical educationis not to produce a physically healthy person, especially not a child's culturaldevelopment, but to destroy the libertarian (self) conscious and to create a«positive» man. Hence he discards the maxim
mens sana in corpore sano
and optsfor the maxim
mens fervida in corpore lacertoso
. Coubertin's sports pedagogyseeks to produce «masters» and is guided by the following views: «The battle atWaterloo was won on the sports fields of Eton», ascribed to Wellington, and«Restore the colonial glory of France!» (
«Rebronzer la France!»
) These views arecorresponded by the following view: ÄUpon the fields of friendly strife are sownthe seeds which, on other days, on other fields, will bear the seeds of victory.³
held by the American general Douglas MacArthur, which was and still is theundisputed guiding principle of the sports pedagogy in the USA.
«Sports pedagogy» established upbringing without education. It is one of the basic reasonswhy it does not have a theoretical part: its aim is not to enlighten the young andcultivate their body, but to produce a ruthless belligerent character and an «iron body». Instead of promoting spontaneity, imagination, pleasure, «sports pedagogy» promotes productivism, utilitarianism, masochism... «The habit of obeying the commands» represents one of the basic principles both of Coubertin's«utilitarian pedagogy» and of the bourgeois «physical education».A pursuit of virtue (
) is the basis of the ancient
, on which theancient ideal of human existence is based. Physical motion is the expression of aspiritual motion based on man's endeavours to fit into the cosmic order. The
ancient conception of cosmos and man's cosmic essence is corresponded by aholistic approach to man as the unique physical, ethical and esthetic being, whencefollows the principle of a harmonious development of human faculties as one of the basic elements of ancient eurhythmics. In the Hellenic world, the Olympic
was modeled after the cosmological and not after the anthropologicalconception. At the same time, physical exercises became a peculiar service togods, which Coubertin himself pointed out claiming that «by chiseling his bodywith exercise as a sculptor chisels a statue´ the athlete in antiquity was ³honouringthe gods´.
Prevails the spirituality of the bodily movement that arises from a³religious feeling´ which pervades the whole life. Instead of insisting on amuscular body, as is the case in sport, the highest challenge for physical exercisesin antiquity was a geometrically constructed bodily proportion, corresponding tothe ideal of a closed and final world and representing the basis of the Hellenes¶racial (self) recognition. The ruling model of the physical and the spiritual, as wellas the principle of a harmonious development of the physical and the spiritual,were derived from the dominant conception of the world which originated fromthe very essence of the Hellenic society and their strivings to preserve theestablished order: the ancient physical culture was of a conservative character. Inaddition, in antiquity there was no principle of ³greater effort´, the dominant principles being ³measure is the best´ (
metron ariston
) and ³nothing too much´(
meden agan
), as well as the principle of ³beautiful and good´ (
).Instead of 
and a spiritual vault, represented by the Olympic gods, as the basisof human self-determination and mediators in interpersonal relations, the basis of man¶s ³self-conscious´ and mediator in ³interpersonal´ relations in sport is theanimal world, degenerated by a technical world: a sports competition is of a SocialDarwinist and progressistic character.In Rousseau¶s pedagogy, man¶s relation towards another man is mediated by man¶s relation towards nature and towards his own body as his immediatenature. A natural motion is becoming the motion of one man towards another (
homo homini homo
). This man is not denaturalized and thus dehumanized; he isnot deprived of impulses, affects and senses; it is a complete man, who is in natureand in unity with his natural being; who aspires to a universal body as theexpression of his universal life-creating powers... In Rousseau, (as well as inGoethe, Schiller, Klopstock, Pestalozzi, Fit, Guts Muths and other  philanthropists), a «return to nature» is the preparation for living in society: nature becomes man's ally in the fight against the
ancien régime
. He seeks to free manfrom a patterned behaviour which kills his vividness, to make him independentfrom his childhood so as to enable him to develop his personality though his ownlife-creating activism and the experience acquired in this way. To liberate manfrom spiritual tutelage and help him acquire the character of an independent andfree person ± this is the basic purpose of Rousseau's «return to nature»: a naturalmovement becomes the synonym for a free movement. Rousseau: «Those constantexercises, left to the guidance of nature, strengthen the body and not only do they
not blunt the spirit but, on the contrary, create in us the only kind of reason for which the period of childhood is capable of, and which is most needed at any age.They teach us to recognize the real use of our forces, the relation of our body tothe bodies around us, and the use of natural tools within our reach suited to our organs.»
Speaking of the «ancient nations», Rousseau emphasizes theimportance of «gymnastic exercises» for the «bodily and spiritual strength whichmakes those nations so different from today's people.»
By way of a freemovement, man is connected with nature and is humanized as a cultural andnatural being, since nature is not for man only an immediate existential space, as itis for the animal, but is a space where he can realize his working skill and spiritual powers. Most importantly, a «return to nature» means to return man to his natural being which has been alienated from him by the development of civilization.A faith in the possibility of actualizing the true human nature is the basis of Rousseau's relation towards man. What makes Rousseau's «savage» «noble» is thecapacity to become human. It is precisely this potential humanity that makes manhuman and, through Emil and upbringing and education, it becomes reality. Classsociety degenerates man, while towns and prevailing forms of movements mutilatehim and kill his naturalness and humanity.
It is no accident that Rousseau does notspeak of an escape to nature, but of a «return to nature». Rousseau finds in naturea living environment which enables man to develop his authentic human powersand become noble. Rousseau's «return to nature» involves an uncorruptedhumanity based on the existential unity of man and nature. Rousseau's «goodsavage» is actually an idealized picture of man who has developed his human powers, unlike the aristocracy whose natural and human powers were degenerated by its parasitic life. Rousseau¶s pedagogical conception is based on natural production and manual labour, which means that there are no technical andscientific spheres which are alienated from man and which mediate between manand nature. The skill man acquires does not become the power with which manseeks to control and use nature, but with which he can be completely united withit. Emil does not seek to become the «master and owner of nature», but to live innature using his cultivated natural powers. Between man and nature there is nocivilizatory mediation: nature itself produces mimetic impulses which manspontaneously absorbs with his senses and they condition his (natural) behaviour.The immediate challenge is not an
a priori
knowledge and the skill acquired inthat context, but natural circumstances, and by meeting that challenge man gainsexperience and develops his human powers in the form of a skill which enableshim to act freely. Human movement is by its character a cultivated naturalmovement by which man simultaneously develops his natural and human being.«Sports pedagogy» is a radical conflict with the ideal of cultivating thehuman nature. It emphasizes the «disciplining» of man, which means thesuppression of individual dispositions, repression of the body, and man'sdevelopment after the model of an instrumentalized «citizen». Instead of theconscious of an emancipated man, the conscious of a subject is created.

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