chapter  3
16 Pages

Gender Associations: Sport, State Schools and Australian Culture

The physical culture of government schools in Australia was shaped by the practices of sport, physical recreation and exercise and by the institutional imperatives of the school. With only a few exceptions, state schools were co-educational, in contrast to schools serving the privileged classes, which were almost entirely single sex. The single sex institutions' explicit uses of physical cultural practices to construct the gendered identities of girls and boys have been well documented by historians.! Less well understood are the co-educational government schools' uses of physical cultural practices to construct gendered identities. This is in part due to the delimited range of ways in which the majority of Australians were able to experience sport, physical recreation and exercise during the first 50 years of the twentieth century. It is also due in part to the narrow and pragmatic uses of physical activity to meet the schools' institutional requirements for social order.