Course Proposal for Adult-Education Program: Naturism in America

Introduction:

Many naturists have thought that educating the general public about naturism would be an effective and "proactive" means of advancing acceptance of clothing-optional recreation and living. More specifically, many naturists have said that courses on naturism offered in college settings would be an excellent way of informing people about clothing-optional resorts, clubs, beaches, hot springs, and other recreational opportuities.

One of the board members of the Naturist Education Foundation, Mark Storey, is a tenured college instructor and has taught a variety of classes at adult-education (or continuing education) programs. Storey worked with NEF to produce the following course proposal for a class on naturism. Storey spent three year working with his college's curriculum committee in the development of nearly a dozen new courses. He thus has much recent experience in proposing college courses and in successfully completing the procedures of getting the courses placed in the college's catalog and of offering them to students.

Where to Propose the Course:

Although many naturists would like to see a course such as Naturism in America offered as part of a standard college curriculum, it is not likely to happen. New courses are going to be designed and proposed by instructors from within departments of the college. Naturism in America may be a reasonable fit in a sociology department list of courses, but the Chair of the Sociology Department is not likely to let someone from outside the department—let alone someone from outside the school—add a new course to the department's offerings. If an instructor from the Sociology Department wished to propose such a course, he or she may do so, but the instructor will still face many hurdles. The curriculum committee will want to know why the course is needed on campus, whether there is good reason to believe that sufficient numbers of students will sign up for it, and whether it meets the goals set out for the college by its board of trustees. A course on naturism will be challenged on all these points.

The best place to propose a course on naturism is not in the academic, for-credit campus of a college, but in its "adult-education" or "continuing eduation" program. These programs are not academic, although some of the courses may address academic topics. They instead provide a varied educational experience for adults who simply wish to take a class or two at their convenience to enrich their lives in some way. Some courses teach people how to use computer software, others teach yoga; some focus on Asian cooking, while others might help people improve their English skills. Each of these programs will likely have a category of classes akin to "Personal Enrichment." Here is where you should try to place Naturism in America. The program directors may have an anti-nudity bias, in which case they will likely find a reason for denying your proposal (after directing you to fill out all the forms). Most of these programs, however, are profit-driven, and if the directors believes that students will sign up for your course, they may very well accept your course. You will, of course, tell them that there will be absolutely no nudity in the classroom, and that the nudity shown in the videos lacks any lewd or erotic overtones.

Cost:

Check out the adult-ed program's course schedule and see what kind of prices other instructors are charging for classes of similar length and which offer the same kind of "product." Make sure that the price you charge students is at the low end of the scale. Consider offering the class free of charge to students. The program directors, again, wish primarily to have classes that will fill with students. If the instructor is willing to charge little, then the total cost to the student will be relatively low and thus more attractive. Many of the students who sign up for an inexpensive course in naturism will already be signed up for more expensive courses that drew them to the program in the first place. Naturism in America will be an inexpensive (or free) second course they are taking as a hoot. You will not make money at this venture, and you will probably spend some out of your own pocket. If you are not willing to pay some registration fees and take a loss of a few dollars, you probably should be loking for another means of advancing naturism.

Cost to you will include a registration fee paid to the adult-ed program, materials you may need to teach the course (e.g., videos, books for your reference, books and magazines to show the class, handouts, copies of "205 Arguments"), parking at the college parking lot, and room rental paid to the school. The small fee you charge the students will defray some of this, but it will likely not cover it all. Some programs, of course, will have different arrangements for finances and rooms.

The Course and Its Presentation:

NEF proposes Naturism in America as a two-session course. It will most likely be offered over two evenings. The course covers the character, history, legal status, reasons for, and locations of naturism in America today and in the instructor's particular region. The course is designed to introduce non-naturists to the culture of family-friendly clothing-optional recreation. Instructors will, of course, need to adjust NEF's proposed course schedule to match their own abilities, knowledge, interests, and course time frames. NEF offers this as a complete and ideal introductory course on naturism. Two separate class times is probably the maximum that we could reasonably expect people new to naturism to attend. Of course, a one-evening session or a one-hour lunchtime lecture could also be effective.

Naturism in America, as outlined below, is far more than a plea for toleration and civil liberties. It is also far more than a surface and anecdotal panegyric for naturism. It is assumed that the instructor is informed on and able to articulate most of the issues surrounding the history, sociology, and philosophy of naturism. An attentive, critical, and complete reading of the following texts should be considered the minimum preparation for teaching this course:

  • Cec Cinder, The Nudist Idea (1998)
  • Aileen Goodson, Therapy, Nudity & Joy (1991)
  • William E. Hartman, et al, Nudist Society (1991)
  • Fred Ilfeld, Jr. and Roger Lauer, Social Nudism in America (1964)
  • Dennis Craig Smith, The Naked Child: Growing Up Without Shame (1986)

In addition to these books, any instructor should be familiar with the material found in the articles on the history, politics, art, and sociology of naturism/nudism found in Clothed With the Sun and Nude & Natural magazines. An awarenes of the material found in Naturally and Naturist LIFE International magazines, as well as the NAC Newsletter (aka the N&N Newsletter), will also be helpful. A thorough knowledge of all the clothing-optional opportunities in one's region and the comparative value of the available naturist guide books and websites is also essential. The instructor will need to aquire copies of short, informative videos for use in the course. NEF recommends The Naturist Society's Celebrate the Freedom and Vacation Naturally, as well as the American Association for Nude Recreation's Welcome to Our World and the Naturist Education Foundation's own Chasing the Sun.

NEF suggests that if at all possible the course be taught by two people: a woman and a man. This will make the learning environment more comfortable for the students, will divide the work load roughly in two, and will provide a varied and thus more entertaining presentation.

NEF suggests also that the instructor(s) pass out complete or abridged copies of "205 Arguments" to students at the end of the first session. (As an alternative, the instructor could charge enough for the course to cover his or her giving each student a copy of Nude & Natural 16.1 which has the complete text. The instructor could also direct the students to www.naturistsociety.com where the complete text is found on The Naturist Society's web page.) Students can then read over the material in preparation for the next session. The reading should be optional rather than "assigned." Keep in mind that many people who take adult-education or continuing-education courses are generally there to be entertained (to some extent) or mentally stimulated, and are not looking for academic pressure. By handing out copies of "205 Arguments" the instructor will be giving them something tangible for their money, and he or she can use the material in Session Two when discussing the purported (and real) benefits of naturism.

The Course Proposal Forms:

Any course proposal forms will likely include a request for personal information about yourself that lets the program directors know that you are a capable instructor (i.e., that you can convey information and do so to the students' satisfaction) and are knowledgeable in the subject you propose to teach. The forms will tell you what specific information the program is looking for.

You may be asked about your target audience. Who do you wish to say this class is for? The following people will benefit from this course: travel agents; people planning their own vacations; people studying or interested in sociology, psychology, or cultural history; social workers; and people who are curious about the rise in popularity in clothing-optional recreation.

The course proposal forms may also ask you to describe the benefits a student may gain from taking this class. In addressing this question, be as specific as possible. For instance, "Travel agents will learn about naturist resorts in America and around the world, and will be provided specific information on how to contact these resorts. Those students merely curious about naturism will be able to explain why naturism has grown in popularity in America. Students will learn about the different kinds of family-friendly naturist recreational opportunities available to them locally and nationally."

You will need to write a course description for the program's catalog or quarterly schedule. The form will tell you the maximum number of words you may use. Ideally, the form will also give you tips—relevant to the particular school—as to what special information you need to put in the description (e.g., price, location, dates). The following is a suggested course description of under 30 words. Notice that the description is brief, to the point, and uses words sparingly.

    "Explores the history, philosophy, and legality of clothing-optional recreation. Learn in a respectful, fully-clothed classroom setting about clothing-optional recreation at resorts, beaches, and hot springs."


Course Outline:

Session One

I. Introduction

     A. Brief outline of course content (to let class know what to expect)

     B. Personal stories (e.g., How I was introduced to naturism)

II. Clothing-optional activities

    A. What can you do?

      i. physical activity: swim, hike, bike, sailing, running

      ii. sports (volleyball, tennis, racketball, surfing)

      iii. relaxation: reading, gardening, chess, hot tub, sauna

      iv. other

    B. What do naturist clubs and free-beaches have to offer?

      i. safe location

      ii. like-minded community

      iii. friends

      iv. amenities (e.g., tennis courts, restrooms, food, lodging)

      v. tips on other naturist locations and groups

      vi. other

III. History of naturism in America

    A. Naturism comes to America

      i. Native American tradition

      ii. Home Colony in Tacoma, WA and other early groups

      iii. Kurt Barthel and the American League for Physical Culture

      iv. Ilsley Boone and the American Sunbathing Association

      v. The National Nudist Council

      vi. Misrepresentation of naturism:

        a. exploitation (1930-1959) and sexploitation (1960-1970s) films

        b. arts in popular culture

        c. the "religious right"

    B. The contemporary scene

      i. American Association for Nude Recreation

      ii. The Naturist Society

    C. Video clips of present day resorts (Welcome to Our World or Vacation Naturally)

    D. Legal status and enforcement of laws

      i. federal

      ii. state

      iii. county and municipal

Pass out copies of "205 Arguments" for the next session.

 

Session Two

IV. Benefits of freedom from clothes

    A. Video presentation (Celebrate the Freedom)

    B. Have class create list of benefits

    C. Discuss sample of "205 Arguments"

V. What is it like at a CO site?

    A. Etiquette

      i. naturist club

      ii. beach and hot spring

    B. Common questions and concerns

      i. for new people

      ii. for men

      iii. for women

      iv. for children


VI. Safe, legal, and hassle-free places to go in your region

    A. Family-friendly naturist clubs

      i. landed

      ii. non-landed

    B. Clothing-optional beaches

    C. Hot springs

    D. Cruises

    E. Local events

      i. swims

      ii. bowling

      iii. other

    F. Guide book and Web sites


Conclusion:

It may encourage you to know that other naturists have successfully proposed such courses in the past. Some were well attended; some drew only a couple of the instructor's friends. Teaching an adult-ed course on naturism is a good idea, and NEF wishes you well in your endeavor. NEF board members across North America may be able to provide specific advice to you as you propose and teach your course. Please feel free to contact the NEF (and Naturist Action Committee) board member for your state or province for assistance. You may find the NEF board member closest to you by visiting the NEF Web site at www.naturisteducation.org.

 

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