The following comments were presented at the Muska Mosston Symposium at the AIESEP International Congress at Wingate Institute, Israel, 1995.
It was in the late 1960's that I, then a beginning assistant-professor of sport pedagogy at Free University Amsterdam, read Muska Mosston’s Teaching Physical Education – From Command to Discovery. I felt very positively surprised by Mosston’s book. Two factors played a major role. Firstly, since I perceived the presented Spectrum of Teaching Styles as a very useful heuristic for the organization of teaching-learning situations, it strongly affected my negative prejudices concerning North American PE teaching theory (I had learnt that this theory was generally behaviouristic and consequently irrelevant for educational practices). Secondly, due to my professional preparation I could easily empathize with two important premises of Muska Mosston, namely (1) PE should be a teaching-learning enterprise in which “movement is the essence of the subject matter” (Mosston, 1966, 24), and (2) education / teaching should aim at student’s independence in decision making.
The acquaintance with Mosston’s book caused that I started to look for more Mosston publications. During some years I checked international journals, reference lists and catalogues on the name Mosston. Since I did not come across this name again, in the middle of the 1970's I gradually came to the conclusion that From Command to Discovery had been the last masterpiece of a scholar who meanwhile had retired or even passed away. Then, in 1984, I came for the first time to the USA as a participant of the pre-Olympic scientific congress in Eugene (Oregon). It was Saturday 21st of July and during lunchtime I sit in the grass in front of one of the Oregon State University buildings, when my Finnish colleague Risto Telema approaches me saying “Bart, I want to introduce to somebody”. I rise to my feet and Risto says “Muska, this is Bart Crum – Bart, this is Muska Mosston”. Flabbergasted I react with “Muska Mosston? I thought he died years ago”. Then Muska grasps my upper-arms and gives me a good shaking while saying “Young man, I’m very much alive and you are going to be a witness.” After I told Muska about my first reading of and appreciation for his book and my unsuccessful search for more Mosston writings, we had a long discussion which laid the foundation for a lasting friendship. Within two years Muska and Sara visited twice Free University Amsterdam to lecture and to give workshops and to spend beautiful days with my family. In the years after I met Muska a couple of times in New York City and in New Jersey and in the course of years we had a regular exchange of letters (real ones because it was before the e-mail option). I had the privilege to come to know Muska as a warm friend, a creative thinker and a charismatic teacher.
Returning home from a Middle-Europe trip on Thursday 21st of July 1994, exactly 10 years after my first meeting with Muska, I find a letter in which Muska announces to come to visit us in September in connection with a conference in The Netherlands where he was invited as a speaker. The whole family enjoys this news. However, two days later, while thinking that Muska was still “very much alive”, I receive Sara’s phone call with the message of his sudden passing away the day before. Some of us have lost a close and warm friend, we all have lost an original thinker, a creative scholar and an inspiring teacher model.
Muska was not only creative and inspiring. When discussing the ins and outs of “The Spectrum”, he was also pride, stubborn and vulnerable. Since I seem to be stubborn too and for sure critical, it will be imaginable that the two of us repeatedly had hot professional debates. These debates always focused on the same issues.
Visit our resource library for the continuation of Dr. Crum’s intellectually provocative analysis of the Spectrum.
Crum, B. (1995). Muska’s claim reconsidered – The Spectrum or A Spectrum of Teaching Styles. Presented at the Muska Mosston Symposium. Wingate Institute, Israel. (Holland).