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
Chapter. 5024 words.
Subjects: History of the Americas
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