Australian Screen

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The Rising Generation (c.1925)

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clip 'Healthy minds in healthy bodies' education content clip 1, 2

This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

A panorama shot of the grounds captures students standing on a square and then moving to form lines. They begin a callisthenics routine – all in time with each other. The boys and girls are grouped separately, with the girls appearing in the background, and the boys in the foreground.

Curator’s notes

The framing of shots allows for maximum coverage of the groups without losing the details of individuals. In this way both individual and group identity – a quality present in all schools – is conveyed.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This silent black-and-white clip, introduced by the intertitle ‘The system provides training to ensure healthy minds in healthy bodies’, shows secondary school students, boys in the foreground and girls behind, playing in a large schoolyard. In response to a signal, the students ‘freeze’ before organising themselves into rows. Once in rows they perform synchronised callisthenic exercises. The footage is filmed from the vantage point of an elevated camera.

Educational value points

  • The clip reveals the importance South Australian schools of the 1920s placed on synchronised callisthenic displays. Such displays were usually combined with marching exercises. Often involving the use of flags, they required hours of practice and were generally performed to music provided by the school band. When performed in school uniform in conjunction with mass marching, the callisthenics created an impression of military regimentation.
  • The footage in this clip displays a high degree of professionalism in its filming. The camera is situated carefully to show the impressive number of participants but also to show details of the individual performers. The event is staged under lighting that displays the geometric patterns created by the synchronised movement of the group.
  • The importance of the balanced development of mind and body, as expressed in the clip’s intertitle, is an idea with ancient origins and modern relevance. First expressed by Plato in his The Republic, it was explored by writers such as John Locke (1632–1704) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78), who wrote about the essential role of exercise in a child’s education. These writings influenced the later development of callisthenics and gymnastics programs.
  • State-aided schools in England promoted the benefits of gymnastics and callisthenic displays, and they were adopted in Australian schools in the 19th century but as the 20th century progressed, games, sport and dance increasingly replaced formal callisthenics in the Australian curriculum. Progressive educationalists in the 1930s began to emphasise the importance of unstructured play and games in psychosocial as well as physical development.
  • Callisthenics originated in ancient Greece and were based on the idea that the performance of systematic exercises, usually without the aid of apparatus, would develop the beauty of the human form. This is reflected in the name, which was formed from a combination of the Greek words 'kalos’, meaning beauty, and 'sthenos’, meaning strength.
  • The title of the film from which the clip is taken, The Rising Generation, may reflect the desire for renewal in SA after the memory of the losses of the First World War, given that almost 10 per cent of Australia’s war dead came from SA. Many also died during the post-War influenza epidemic. The subsequent rapid population increase and good harvests contributed to a more positive view of the future.

This clip starts approximately 8 minutes into the documentary.

This silent black-and-white clip, introduced by the intertitle ‘The system provides training to ensure healthy minds in healthy bodies’, shows secondary school students, boys in the foreground and girls behind, playing in a large schoolyard. In response to a signal, the students ‘freeze’ before organising themselves into rows. Once in rows they perform synchronised callisthenic exercises. The footage pans back and forth the grounds and is filmed from the vantage point of an elevated camera.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

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  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

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ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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