Film ID: YFA 2222 Video of YFA 2222 Free to Grow Up 1956 FREE TO GROW UP 1956 Visitor TabsDescription This film documents physical education in New Earswick Primary School. The commentary emphasises the importance of individuality and free expression in producing a full and harmonious physical development. Titles: Presented by the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust Originated by and Produced under the direction of W. Pearson, Organiser of Physical Education to the North Riding of Yorkshire Education Committee. Script A.G. Joselin. Photography. . F Micklethwaite This film indicates the effectiveness of modern methods in PHYSICAL EDUCATION suited to the growth and development of children in the PRIMARY SCHOOL. Free To Grow Up The film opens with views of York Minster from the city walls as well as scenes of the Shambles. The commentary speaks of the need for, “full and harmonious physical development.” Groups of teenage schoolgirls walk and cycle through city centre. Then groups of school children arrive at school by bus. The commentary poses the question of what freedom of expression and movement did they bring to their secondary school from the physical education they received at primary school. The film then presents New Earswick Primary School as an example of such physical education; and a young person, called John Smith, an ex-pupil of New Earswick Primary School, is given as an example of such a child. He is shown leaving home to start at secondary school. The outside of the school is shown, and children play in the adjoining school field. After playing, the boys and girls fall into single-file lines and return to their lesson. A teacher puts up exercise equipment, and the children get changed for gym. They make their way outside, taking with them equipment: ropes, hoops, mats and chairs. The children do some individual exercises, including attempted headstands, before they gather around the teacher who leads them on an ‘imaginary walk’ on their hands and feet. He then leads other activities like ‘being a kangaroo’ and ‘being a crab.’ The children split into groups to do a variety of games. The commentary emphasises the benefit of freedom to do different activities. Other activities shown include girls skipping, boys and girls hopping on one foot, and boys doing different exercises with hula-hoops. Whilst the children play on rope ladders, the voice over comments on the satisfaction to be had from the activities, and then on the fact that, at this age, the activities are done as individuals rather than as team work, with 6 year old girls demonstrating forward rolls. After a demonstration by the teacher, they do crouch jumps before trying handstands. Inside the classroom, a class of 6 year olds run by a teacher at the piano. The commentary emphasises the importance of learning rhythm. The children move according to the rhythms of the music. Then a class of 8 year olds are shown at a further stage of development: skipping, rocking on the floor, doing cartwheels and handstands (we are told that girls are better at this than boys). The commentary highlights the importance of variety –the children doing many different activities with a beanbag – and of attention being removed from the body to the activity itself. After the exercises the children relax lying on the floor. There is footage of a train coming into a railway station before showing the children mimicking aspects of this real life situation, such as the movements of the pistons. The commentary emphasises the importance of making imaginative use of simple things in developing confidence in movement. This is illustrated by imaginative games, such as trying different ways to get along a bench. Children also do a variety of foot exercises to aid mobility. The commentary notes that the focus is on the individual pupil, and that this requires planning by the teacher. A class is shown watching a film about techniques in jumping. The commentary states, “Only in free activity can the natural differences between boys and girls, and between individuals, be adequately catered for.” It also highlights the importance of suppleness and mobility, as well as strength, with these being illustrated by a group of 10 year olds doing various difficult exercises, such as walking on their hands. These children are now ready to do group activities, using gym equipment such as the horse and the long box, with the commentary noting the teachers' responsibility for safety. It also notes that there is no compulsion or formal teaching of skills, even though complex skills are demonstrated. The commentary states, “the physique of some the boys is already enabling them to outdo the girls.” The children do a variety of complex gym exercises on the vaulting equipment, and using climbing ropes. The development of the children is demonstrated by comparing the performance of groups of children at ages 6, 8 and 10 doing various physical activities, such as ‘the crab.’ The film then moves on to show how the development of individual free movement leads on to patterned dances, with 8 year old boys and girls paired up, dancing around a field and holding hands. The groups hold hands and dance in circles. At 10 years old the children learn more complex dancing, again with the emphasis on individual free movement as part of a collective dance. The children are shown expressing themselves by enacting ‘lighting a bonfire.’ There are girls lined up against the side of a swimming pool, bobbing up and down, and then floating whilst holding hands in a ring. The children go through various stages to learn how to swim. Children play games with bat and ball, and the commentary notes that individual activity eventually gives way to team activity, claiming that, “the game itself is the best motivator.” The focus on the individual means that all can gain satisfaction, as in learning the ‘quick steps’ used when starting in a race. The children then take part in the sprint and relay races. The film ends by going back to the changing room, where John Smith gets dressed and gets ready to go to school. The commentary notes that he takes with him from primary school the satisfaction and confidence which result from being free from the constraints of formal instruction, “in which his spontaneous activity has been the main motivator,” and where they become, “free to create, to adapt and learn.” End credits: Filmed at The New Earswick Primary school in the North Riding of Yorkshire. Head Master. . A.J. Hall. Physical Education . . . L.J. Somerset by the Yorkshire Film Company Ltd. Context The film Free To Grow Up was made by the North Riding of Yorkshire Education Committee. The aim of the film was probably to encourage teachers to adopt what was called ‘free activity’ and ‘the play way’; and to demonstrate how to put it into practice. North Riding now no longer exists as a local authority, it was abolished in the Local Government Act of 1972. The film throws an interesting light on two important currents of thought that were in the ascendency in the 1950s. The first is the belief that mental and physical well being requires an environment with plenty of space, and especially of outdoor space. The second is the idea of a child centred approach to learning as providing the best way to produce an all rounded development of the child. Both of these ideas are emphasised in this film. At the time Free To Grow Up was made local authorities were encouraging teachers to practice an approach that tried to integrate the uniqueness and spontaneity of the individual child within a developmental framework. The Hadow Report of 1931 encouraged primary education to be a prelude to secondary education for all, and emphasised activity, experience, attention to children’s needs, and a developmental view of young children’s learning. The approach was inspired by several educationalists, among them the 19th century German educator, Friedrich Froebel; and it also chimed in with the development of humanistic psychology in the 1940s and 1950s. This child-centred approach continued after the World War Two, when the 1944 Education Act divided education into the three stages of primary, secondary and further. This film addresses itself to the expectations that were made of the primary schools in providing well rounded pupils to move from primary to secondary. The film was scripted by Arthur George Joselin, who completed a PhD at Leeds in the same year, 1956 (see Further Information). He later became Professor of Education at Aston University, 1968-72. The results of this education can be seen in an interesting related film, Joseph Rowntree Senior School New Earswick (1947), which was, and still is, the follow on school for New Earswick. Also of related interest is the film Kindergarten (1958), made by Eric Bolderson, also on YFAO. Interviewed on the ITV The Way We Were series, Mary Robinson, who was a pupil at the school at the time, talks of her love of the school — evidenced by her having a blemish free record of attendance. Mary notes that PE (Physical Education) was taken every day. The school included a nursery, which at this time was run by Mavis Blanchard. Although not a Quaker school – unlike two other York schools, Bootham and The Mount – the film reveals New Earswick to have a Quaker ethos. Joseph’s son, John, had already established an Adult School in Acomb, and pioneered summer schools. New Earswick Primary School, built in 1912, reflects the idea of giving sufficient space to children to develop. The windows can be folded back to allow for an ‘open-air’ school, and there was an allowance of 15 square feet of floor area per child instead of the 10 square feet required by the Board of Education at that time. The school is part of New Earswick, the model village developed in York by Joseph Rowntree in 1902. The building of the village followed in the wake of the famous study of the living conditions of the working classes in York, in 1901, Poverty: a study of town life, by Seebohm Rowntree, Joseph Rowntree’s son (the first in a long line of similar sociological studies). The Rowntrees are a long established Quaker family in York, often holding high office, as Lord Mayor or MP. Joseph Rowntree set up several trusts in 1904, all still going strong. One of these, the Village Trust (now the Joseph Rowntree Foundation) was established initially to create a model housing estate, meant to be an ideal community of all classes, at New Earswick. It was modelled on the Cadbury’s Bournville Village Trust in Birmingham. Both of these chocolate magnates were Quakers with a social mission (which included having no pubs!). It was a period in which Quakerism was becoming more liberal in its own positions, and more outgoing. Other Quaker villages included Rickett in Hull and Lever at Port Sunlight. The issues the film highlights remain very much alive today, and this rare film demonstrates just how the ‘free activity’ approach worked in practice, and what the results of it were – for example, there are no signs of any obesity. It shows the remarkable skills primary school pupils acquired, compared at different ages. The film is particularly significant in relation to current debates around school curriculum and the emphasis that should be put on physical activity. References Stephen Allott, Friends in York: The Quaker story in the life of a Meeting, York, 1978. Christine Doddington and Mary Hilton, Child-centred education; reviving the creative tradition, Sage Publications, 2007 Roy Lowe, ‘Primary Education Since the Second World War’, in Roy Lowe ed. The Changing Primary School, The Falmer Press, London, 1987. Further Information Arthur George Joselin PhD. ‘The patterning of mental response: an experimental study of the mutual influence of cognitive and effective responses to pictorial and verbal items in a new psychological test’. University of Leeds, Edward Boyle Library, Cage EBL Theses A JOS? Leeds University Special Collections MS 660 has some correspondence relating to Joselin: ref. Professor Arnold George, Aston University: correspondence, 27680, 27683. Lewis Waddilove, One Man’s Vision: the story of the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1954 (also published by the Bournville Village Trust, 1956).