Pedagogy of Libertarian Physical Culture


The relation to physical culture should be seen in the framework of its relation to school, while the relation to school should be seen in the context of the current development of society. The current tendency is to eliminate school as an educational institution and turn students into specialty-idiots. The tacit aim of the «course of reforms» leading us to the «modern world» is to submit every segment of life to the circulation and reproduction of capital. The neoliberal project of the development of capitalism as a global order involves dealing with national cultures, libertarian traditions of mankind and with a reasonable man who is capable of understanding his real needs and of establishing a critical and change-aspiring distance to the ruling order. It is all about the destruction of the critical and creative mind and reducing it to operationalized intellect. Instead of creating a humanistic civilization, school is becoming a means for creating a «technical civilization», which is a modern form of the «civilized menagerie» created by capitalism. In that context, physical culture is expelled from school and «sports education» is introduced, which is reduced to a physical and mental mutilation of young people. The «liberation» of students from uniform physical exercises, which once prevailed on lessons of «physical culture», proceeds by way of «sports competition». Exercises mechanizing the body and creating a militaristic spirit are replaced by a dehumanized and denaturalized playing skill and a ruthless combative individualism. Desk-mates are no longer «comrades from the same ranks», performing the same «task», but are «opponents» in the «struggle for a place under the sun». Instead of developing versatile and creative personalities, teachers of sports education become body technicians and slave drivers and as such are the long arm of mafia organizations in the form of sports clubs and political clans.

If we bear in mind that school is a social institution and that the nature of society determines the nature of school, then there is no point in speaking of a «new» school without mentioning a new society. There is no «free and open school» in a society where the entire life is submitted to the operation of capital and manipulation carried out by alienated centres of political power; in a society where knowledge (reduced to «information») is not a road to the truth, but a commodity on the market and as such is a means for destroying man’s libertarian dignity and the emancipatory heritage of mankind. There can be no «freedom for school» if society is ruled by the tyranny of capital, repressive institutions and corrupted political clans. There can be no «freedom for students» at schools if there is no freedom for man in society. The struggle for a “new” school can make sense only if at the same time it is the struggle for a new society.

The pedagogy of libertarian physical culture includes the following:

(1) Theoretical part. It includes the child’s becoming aware of itself as a free, creative and social being and thus the development of the body as an integral part of its personality. The child should be aware of the purpose of physical culture and be able to make the difference between a libertarian physical culture and repressive forms of physical activism. Teachers should explain the nature of the body and its functioning and should help young people to respect their own body which marks their human authenticity. Young people should learn that a proper diet, physical activity and exercising are not only the preconditions for a proper development of their body and preservation of health, but also for a proper development of their personality. It is about directing young people towards an active social life, and not towards a narcissistic obsession with their own body and loneliness.

(2) Body hygiene. On classes of physical culture young people should learn the proper physical exercises they should do every day. Teachers should teach them by way of demonstration and correction. This offers a lot of possibilities for implementing scientific discoveries. Floor exercise and apparatus that contribute to the development without risk of injuries should be insisted upon. The basic principle of physical health is an adaptive and creative agility. The work with young people should develop a need for everyday physical exercises. As far as gyms are concerned, instead of a military atmosphere, gyms should have a libertarian and friendly atmosphere. Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood – this should be the banner in every school gym and in that spirit murals and stained glass windows should be made…

(3) Return to nature. The teachers of libertarian physical culture should initiate a return to nature, which is not only our immediate existential, but also a historical, esthetical and global living space. The purpose of a return to nature is not to «conquer» it, as is the case in sport, but to preserve it and to cultivate young people. Only in nature can man attain his natural being. The struggle for a healthy man becomes the struggle for a healthy living environment: in healthy nature – healthy man (homo sanus in natura sana). The teachers of libertarian physical culture should launch a campaign within which every school should be responsible for preserving one part of the environment; every child should plant at least one tree every year; students should explore nature, take care of animals and draw ecological maps; schools should develop brotherly relations with villages and pupils should help old people’s households… Here we depart from one of the most important postulates of Rousseau’s pedagogy: if a child is to become a good man, it should be given the opportunity to do good acts.

(4) Folk dances and other forms of dances. It is a traditional form of social activism which returns man to his cultural being and is the most authentic expression of man’s playing nature. As far back as in the ancient Greece people realized the importance of music, in addition to gymnastics, for man’s cultivation.

(5) Plays. Libertarian physical culture does not discard playing skills in sport; it rather tries to cultivate them by creating new (artistic) plays which, instead of a ruthless rivalry, will be characterized by cooperation and tolerance. It means that boys and girls, as playing beings, will be able to play together – which will lead to the abolishment of segregation according to the gender, on which sport is based, without which there is no humane society.

As far as desirable physical abilities are concerned, libertarian physical culture does not emphasize strength, speed and stamina, but creative agility, which means a creative body which is in unity with man’s creative spirit. It is the basis for the development of a creative skill that is not characterized by the movement of man against another man, as is the case in sport, but by the movement of man towards another man. Instead of striving for a body-machine and mechanical motion, based on the absolutized principle of quantitatively measurable performance, libertarian physical culture strives for an artistic body and artistic motion. Instead of being the bodily mechanics, physical culture should become the bodily poetics: bodily motion should express man’s poetic being – a poetic motion of man towards another man. The development of a rich creative personality, humanisation of man’s natural being and society as the community of free people – these are the ultimate aims of libertarian physical culture.

School is an institution which can carry out an organized campaign aimed at saving children from bodily and mental destruction. It should become a spiritual workshop, open 365 days a year, where every child can have a chance to develop its talents and socialize in a way which will help them develop their cultural being. Since physical culture is a pedagogical area which, together with art, offers a good opportunity for the development of bodily, spiritual and social being of young people and enables man’s return to mother nature which is increasingly bleeding – it deserves to have a special place in the system of education.

The struggle for libertarian physical culture means the struggle for teachers who are strong advocates of the libertarian and cultural tradition. They should acquire a broad humanistic education, which will enable them to understand the nature of man as a universal creative being of freedom, they should be aware of the difference between the true physical culture and repressive (destructive) forms of physical activism, and they should become the creators of a rich culture of movements used for cultivating man’s playing being. Humanistic education includes:

(1) Man’s libertarian self-conscious as a historical and social being, which means man’s awareness of his universal creative powers and unalienable human and civil rights.

(2) Awareness of social causes of injustice and processes that cause the destruction of life.

(3) Awareness of the existing possibilities of the development of society and eradication of the causes of injustice and destruction.

(4) Idea of a society that should be striven for.

Instead of being silent participants in the destruction of children and employees of sports clubs, teachers of libertarian physical culture should become the carriers of Promethean fire and as such the leading figures in education. Their primary role should not be to have the classes of physical culture, but to initiate, organize and conduct various activities of pupils, inside and outside school, like Vasa Pelagić, the great Serbian «popular teacher» whose work represents extraordinary lessons in physical culture as the means for building a physically fit, spiritually rich, nationally proud and socially active individual.

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