A Comparison of Physical Education (pe) Development in the Czech Republic, Germany, and the Usa – a Historical Perspective


BACKGROUND: After the year 1989, political, structural and economic reforms caused signifi cant changes in education in the Czech Republic, also aff ecting physical education (PE). Within the context of unifi cation and globalization there are similar changes in progress in other countries. OBJECTIVE: The complex situation, fast changes and various pedagogical traditions complicate the creation of a systematic view of the current PE reforms. The objective of this paper is to describe the most important events in the history of PE in the Czech Republic, Germany and the USA and to explain their eff ect on the PE curriculum changes in the selected countries. The purpose of this historical analysis is to present some fundamental information about the development of PE in selected countries which will make possible further comparisons of the current reforms of physical education. METHODS: Our methodology is based on historical comparison outlining and comparing the history of the PE concepts in selected countries. RESULTS: Our results and fi ndings show the diff erences in the history of PE in the Czech Republic, Germany and the USA and the crosscultural infl uence of the countries on the development of PE concepts. Especially the Turners from Germany infl uenced the beginnings of Czech and American PE in the 19 century. Other gymnastic systems entered the USA later but the philosophy of pragmatism and the infl uence of the modern Olympic movement brought signifi cant changes into the American PE concept at the beginning of the 20 century. As a consequence, the gymnastic systems have been replaced with the “sport recreational” concept. In the 20 century the emphasis on physical education changed repeatedly when confl icts between countries occurred. For example the German, Czech and American PE emphasis shifted from games and sport to physical conditioning after WWI and WWII and also after the Korean and Vietnam War in the USA. Further diff erences in PE concepts were caused by diverse political ideologies in the second half of the 20 century. Physical education in the former Czechoslovakia was infl uenced by the Soviet physical culture philosophy. Popularity of sport in the 1960ʼs and the 1970ʼs aff ected the PE curricula in Western Germany, but later, in the 1980ʼs, sport decreased in importance. After the end of the “Cold War”, PE focussed on “life long activities,” and the infl uence of American culture was visible in the PE development in European countries. Recently, an active life style has been supported and the issue of health has become an important part of the PE curricula. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this analysis confi rm diff erent approaches to physical education concepts among these countries in terminology, roles, and goals during diff erent time periods. Our fi ndings also show that the educational reforms in Germany and the USA were started 10 and 20 years earlier than in the Czech Republic. Therefore, it is important to carry out further comparisons of current educational reforms that might help to reform Czech physical education.

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@inproceedings{Vlek2011ACO, title={A Comparison of Physical Education (pe) Development in the Czech Republic, Germany, and the Usa – a Historical Perspective}, author={Petr Vl{\vc}ek}, year={2011} }