Luther Halsey Gulick Essay, Research Paper
Luther Halsey Gulick “One of the most remarkable personalities to leave an imprint upon YMCA physicaleducation was Luther Gulick” (Johnson, 1979, 55). Gulick, whose parents were missionaries,was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1865. For fifteen years he traveled extensively because ofhis background as a child of missionaries. Finally, in 1880, he was able to slow his travelsand go to Oberlin College until 1884. While at Oberlin, he suffered from headaches caused bypoor eyesight.Also during his stay at Oberlin, he roomed with another prominent physicaleducator, Thomas Wood who later made a name for himself at Stanford and Columbia andencountered Dr. Delphine Hanna, who was a leading pioneer in women’s physical education. Inthe fall of 1885, Gulick entered a middle preparatory class, but also took some collegeclasses to further his education. Shortly after his stay at Oberlin, he went to SargentSchool of Physical Training in Cambridge, Massachusetts for a period of six months. In Aprilof 1886, he became the physical director of the YMCA in Jackson, Michigan, but laterresigned to enter the Medical School of New York University. Gulick managed to pursue hismedical training program and also perform his duties as an instructor at the YMCA inSpringfield, Massachusetts. In October 1887 Gulick was employed by the InternationalCommittee on a part-time basis to serve as the international secretary for physical work. Heheld this position for thirteen years. Finally in March of 1889, he completed his medicalprogram. In the same year, he was named the superintendent of the Springfield YMCA. In May1891 a paper read before the secretariat at a convention in Kansas City, clearly stated therole that physical education could play within the framework of accepted theologicalprocedure. Gulick said, “Our physical education should be all around; have reference tospiritual and mental growth; be educative and progressive; give each man what he
individually needs and be interesting. Our distinctive methods are the leaders’ corps, thetraining class, and the relation of the physical to the other departments of our work.”(Johnson, 1979, 56). In this same year, Gulick established a correspondence course forphysical directors. Gulick was influenced by Dr. G. Stanley Hall, a leading psychologist ofhis time and of Johns Hopkins University, to the ideals of unity and symmetry. In Gulick’sefforts to seek these ideals, he tried to achieve harmony, order, and balance in theelements of living. For the first time in his career, he taught a course in the psychologyof play for sports psychology in 1899. While employed at Springfield, his ideas of physicaleducation were creative, progressive, and experimental in its approach. Gulick was alwaysquick in doing things and always scurrying about testing new ideas and theories and gettingrid of those that he found invalid. He believed that the purposes of physical education wereto be better served through the use of competitive sports instead of body-building. In 1903,he became the director of physical education in Greater New York. During this time he wasinstumental in the formulation of a philosophy of physical education. Towards the end of hiscareer, he was an advisor to the Spalding Brothers Company, who made basketballs, a chairmanof the War Work Council of the International Committee of the YMCA, and served as presidentfor both the American Physical Education Association and the Public School Physical Training Society. In August of 1918 at summer camp in South Casco, Maine, Luther Halsey Gulick died. His untimely death cut short the career of one of America’s most original educators andsocial workers at a critical point in his career. Bibliography1. Gulick, Luther H. (1920). A Philosophy of Play. Charles Scribner’s Sons. 2. Johnson, Elmer L. (1979). The History of YMCA Physical Education. Follet Publishing.