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Active BodiesA History of Women’s Physical Education in Twentieth-Century America$
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Martha H. Verbrugge

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195168792

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195168792.001.0001

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Body, Science, and Difference in the Gym

Body, Science, and Difference in the Gym

Chapter:
(p.3) Introduction Body, Science, and Difference in the Gym
Source:
Active Bodies
Author(s):

Martha H. Verbrugge

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195168792.003.0000

The introduction reviews broad changes and persistent inequities in American physical education during the twentieth century. Students’ experiences in the gym varied considerably by gender, race, sexuality, and class, as did the status of their teachers. The introduction presents the book’s central argument about physical education’s unique power to embody and/or challenge these social disparities. Applying scientific ideas about sex differences and the relative role of nature versus nurture in human development, teachers devised instructional programs and competitive activities that seemed appropriate for female students. Physical educators also deployed concepts of gender and race to bolster their own professional authority. The introduction ends with summaries of the book’s individual chapters and overall structure.

Keywords:   physical education, gym teachers, sex differences, nature versus nurture

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