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Since the new addition to the Gymnasium, considerable agitation has been made about establishing a prescribed course of physical exercise, to count towards a degree. Such a plan, aiming to put mental and physical training on a rational basis, has undoubtedly great advantages, and on the whole seems practicable, especially as it has been tried with success in several colleges.
Some of the principal defects in the present system, as stated by Dr. Sargent in his last report to the committee on physical training, are the tendency to crowed the gymnasium during the latter part of the afternoon, owing to the arrangement of hours for recitations, and the difficulty of having class drills without interfering with individual work, it being equally hard to allow the general use of the gymnasium without interfering with the class instruction. Moreover, an increasing number of students are left without any incentive for regular training, as the number of athletic teams remains about the same from year to year, while the number of students is annually growing larger. The system now in use also affords no means of getting at a considerable body of students, either scholars or athletes, who need the influence of physical discipline.
To obtain the desired changes, it would first be necessary to put the work of the department of Physical Training on the same footing as the other departments of the University. For this purpose Dr. Sargent proposed three possible plans. According to the first a physical examination would be required from every student upon entrance, and every year afterwards until that of graduation. This would leave all exercise optional, but would hold over each student the requirement of an improved condition from year to year, to be determined by actual test.
By the second plan, physical examinations and exercise in the Gymnasium three hours every week would be required of all members of the Freshman class. This work would be supplemented by required attendance at one lecture a week on Hygiene throughout the year, and would count as a half course towards a degree.
The third plan consists of a graded course of physical exercises extending over four years, in which the regular work of the Gymnasium would be taught to the whole College, as it is now taught to the members of the Summer School. This would embrace a broad system of electives, and call for a considerable number of instructors.
The Committee on Physical Training, to whom Dr. Sargent directed his report, express themselves in favor of a prescribed course of exercise during the Freshman year.
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