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Education In Germany

( Originally Published 1912 )



" I think any one who reads in the German pedagogical literature of our day has now and then a sense of hopelessness of any educational originality. The range of its suggestion is in fact astounding. The new plan and conception of educational procedure which is just dawning above his horizon is very likely to appear in some German pamphlet or even in some `Handbuch der Padagogik ' as a familiar notion, the boundaries of which have been well marked out and its values weighed in the balance." — BROWN, " Government by Influence," p. 127.

As in America, so in Germany there is no national system of schools ; but, as in America the schools of the nation exhibit sufficient uniformity of character to justify the expression "the American schools, " so throughout the German Empire an even greater conformity to a type permits us to speak of " the German schools." Politically, Germany consists of four kingdoms, six grand duchies, five duchies, seven principalities, three free cities, and one imperial territory, — in all, twenty-six in-dependencies ; but, whether considered from the standpoint of area or population, the single kingdom of Prussia constitutes three fifths of the Empire. It comes about naturally, then, that students of education, especially foreign observers, speak of Prussian and of German schools in practically interchangeable terms ; and it is true that, while the other states have developed their own distinctive systems, the Prussian fairly stands as the prevailing type.

For centuries the German leaders have been developing, and the German people supporting, an educational system which in its present-day expression is a most effective instrument for the accomplishment of the educational aims of the nation. In the words of Dean Russell,' " . . . the German school system is a living progressive institution that has changed from age to age in response to the changing ideals of successive periods. At no time has it been a finished product which could be studied apart from the political, social, industrial, and spiritual conditions of the people by whom it has been supported and for whom it still exists. It is the natural evolution of forces inherent in the German life ; it is the result of a process of adaptation to German environment, it is an educational product peculiar to the Fatherland." It is this peculiar product which we now proceed to consider in detail.

Infant Education

Practically no attention is given to infant education in the school systems of Germany. This nation which gave the world the discoverer of the kindergarten has never indorsed his idea in any whole-hearted manner. Froebel established his first kindergarten at Blankenburg, in 1837, but so little favor did it meet that between the years 1851 and 1861 it was officially prohibited in Prussia, and even to-day has not been incorporated in the public school system of that kingdom. Even the private kindergartens are not largely attended.

Elementary Education

More than nine tenths of the children of school age are in the public elementary schools, known as the Volksschulen (people's schools), and characterized as the " most magnificent system of common schools in the world." The course extends through eight years and is designed for those des-tined to service in the ordinary vocations. Less than 20 per cent of the schools of this grade have eight classes, the prevailing type, of course, being the rural school of from one to six classes.

Most pupils who are scheduled for secondary education never attend the Volksschulen, but go directly to the preparatory classes maintained by most of the secondary schools and known as the Vorschulen.

Auxiliary education is given in what are termed Hilfsschulen. For the deaf and dumb about l00 institutions are maintained, and for the blind about half as many. For the feeble-minded Prussia alone maintains over 200 schools, en-rolling about 15,000, with less than 19 pupils per teacher. They are fully organized and set apart from the regular schools.' In 1910, 73 cities in the Empire had established such schools, with the effective result that the great majority of the pupils are turned out self-supporting. In smaller towns special classes for defectives are attached to the ordinary schools, under the name Nebenklasse.

"In the establishment of special classes for mentally deficient children, Germany was the pioneer, and began the work in 1867. In Prussia since 188o special schools or classes have been required in all cities of 20,000 or more. In some cases Germany has special schools ; in others, special classes for these children."

Secondary Education

The hohere Schulen (high schools) are not high schools in the American sense. They receive pupils, not upon their completion of the elementary course, but at about ten years of age, giving them a nine-year curriculum of a distinctively secondary character. These schools are of three kinds: the Gymnasium, the Olerrealschule, and the Realgymnasium.

The Gymnasium is the classical school where the emphasis is placed upon the Greek and Roman languages and literatures. Its aim is that of mental "discipline," as is noted from its title, which implies the value of mental gymnastics.

It dates back nearly half a millennium. " In 1521, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew were introduced into the old cathedral school, and five years later Melanchthon inaugurated a new secondary school embodying his curriculum. By this time many other city schools had been remodeled, and the term gymnasium began to be used to indicate the schools of the new discipline."

In many smaller towns it is impossible to sup-port a full-graded Gymnasium, and the resulting institution, lacking some, usually three, of the highest grades, is known as a Progymnasium.

The Oberrealschule, the second of the three kinds of secondary school, is the extension of the Realschule, and represents the headway gained by the modern scientific spirit over the purely classical ideal. Neither Latin nor Greek is studied, and there is a preponderance of science and modern language.

The Realgymnasium is the expression of compromise between the two extremes of classical and scientific aims. The first organized was in Berlin, in 1828. The law ordering the opening of the Realgymnasium in Wiesbaden, in 1845, well states the purpose of this kind of school as being to provide " a general scientific preparatory education for those who intend to devote them-selves to a technical-practical profession, and who, immediately after graduation, enter upon it, or who intend to continue their studies in a professional school or polytechnical university."

The nine classes of one year each, into which the course in all three of these secondary schools is divided, are termed in order, from the beginning sexta, guinta, quanta, untertertia, obertertia, untersecunda, obersecunda, unterprima, oberprima. Pupils to be admitted must be nine years of age and have had three years of preparation, which is received either in the public or private elementary schools, or in the Vorschulen (Vorgymnasia) already referred to.

In 1900 equality between these three kinds of secondary school was established by royal rescript. Graduation from any one of these entitles the student to enter the university. Attendance for six years gains for him exemption of one year from the two years of army service required of every male citizen. Certain other civic and professional privileges are accorded varying lengths of attendance.

Over 300,000 students are enrolled in the secondary schools of the empire. The relative attendance on the three kinds may be stated in general terms : about one half are in the Gymnasium and two thirds of the remainder in the Oberrealschu le.

In addition to these three varieties of schools giving secondary education proper, there exist in Prussia and a few other North German States, Mittelschulen (intermediate schools), " the aims of which reach beyond those of the elementary school, thus occupying an intermediate position between the latter and the Realschule and Gymnasium." Prussia has some 150,000 pupils in attendance at these schools. In Saxony the inter-mediate school is known as the Higher Elementary School.

Higher Education

In this land of precise thinking and systematic administration there exists no such confusion as prevails in America, as to the status of institutions for higher education — the university stands unique and supreme. Heidelberg, the oldest, dates its establishment to 1385, and Berlin,' Munich, and Leipzig, to-day the three with the largest number of students, to 1809, 1826, and 1409, respectively.' Early in the nineteenth century the equality of the four faculties — theology, law, medicine, and philosophy — was established. It is the prevailing custom for students to attend more than one institution, frequently four or five. The individual university does not command the allegiance which is given to our American colleges and universities, but students are rather attracted to particular professors and particular courses, and seek these wherever they are to be found. There is no prescribed length of course, each student deciding for himself when he shall present himself for his degree of Doctor of Philosophy, the only one granted by the German university.' The degree is issued by the particular institution, upon extended examination and the presentation of a printed dissertation, but the student's previous work at other universities is given full credit. The students in all of the twenty-one universities of the empire number over 50,000 with the largest proportion of them in philosophy, and the others in law, medicine, and theology, in the order named.

The esteem in which the German universities are held is voiced by Professor Ladd, when he says that it is chiefly because they " most worthily realize the ideal of the highest free and scientific culture that they are confessedly superior to all others,—confessedly, on the part of the most thoughtful and well-informed educators under rival systems" . . . "for every university in Germany, by its theory and custom alike, undertakes worthily to realize this admirable ideal."

Vocational Education

Germany has gone far in establishing institutions of all grades for the furthering of vocational education, and to this is due in no small measure her present industrial and commercial supremacy.

For those children who have had no schooling beyond that of the Volksschule, continuation schools are provided, not only for the purpose of cultivating vocational efficiency, but also of reviewing studies already gone over, of sustaining and reinforcing interest in study, and of fixing good habits and contributing to moral living. These schools, enrolling in Prussia alone nearly a half-million pupils, are known as Fortbildung schulen, and are of the three classes, Industrie (industrial), Kaufmannische (commercial), and Landwirthschaftliche (rural). Some of the rural schools give a limited amount of technical agricultural instruction, but their chief object is to extend and strengthen the elementary education of the rural people. Sessions are held, principally in the winter, on evenings and Sunday afternoons. Similarly, in the industrial and commercial extension courses, the sessions occupy evenings and Sundays and total six to ten hours per week.

Of institutions secondary in rank there are many of all kinds, industrial, agricultural, and commercial. The higher grade technical schools demand six years of secondary instruction as an entrance requirement, whereas many of the other institutions " accept a still smaller amount of preparatory general schooling, but all of them insist on the pupils having gone through some practical training in their trades. The lower professional schools for artisans, foremen, etc., demand only the previous training of the elementary school."

There is a large variety of industrial schools, the chief groups being: (i) institutions approaching technical schools of higher education rank, having a stated course of two or more years ; (2) Baugewerkeschulen (building-trades schools), admission to which in Prussia, for example, is upon the completion of elementary instruction, age requirement of 16 years, and employment for at least two summers in building or work-shops ; (3) Handwerkeschulen (also Gewerbesclhulen and Kunstgewerbeschulen) for various handicrafts, pottery, tile making, etc., with courses extending over a year or semester with full-day teaching; (q.) schools for various textile industries ; (5) mining schools ; and (6) schools of navigation.

Of agricultural schools of this rank there are four notable groups : (1) those schools having the character of Realschulen, of which there are a score in Prussia ; (2) farming schools for direct training in practical agriculture; (3) winter schools, where the teaching is purely theoretical ; and (q.) schools for instruction in special branches, as, for instance, meadow cultivation, horticulture, dairy farming, bee culture, etc.

As to commercial schools, of this and other grades, there are many, widely distributed and of marked influence. " Saxony has well been termed the classic land for furnishing special instruction to the merchant class. Not in Saxony alone, but in other divisions of the Empire, mercantile schools have long constituted an important division in the systems of education."'

The oldest of these institutions, known as middle or high commercial schools, is the Oeffentliche Handelslehranstalt in Leipzig, founded in 183o by the Trade Schools Guild, and in 1888 taken under general supervision by the Chamber of Commerce. It has a three-year course in technical and general subjects, and admits students at the age of 14 or 15.

Higher education along vocational lines is also extremely well worked out. Professional instruction in law, medicine, and theology forms, as we have noted, an integral part of the university work.

Technical instruction is given in technical high schools or polytechnica, of which there are ten in the empire, with an enrollment exceeding 25,000. Training is given in all four technical departments : architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and technical chemistry. In general, students must be graduates of a secondary school, and they obtain, after an average attendance of four years, the diploma of Certificated Engineer.

As distinguished from these polytechnica, there is a variety of monotechnical schools, each teaching the technique of a single art. These, known as high schools for special subjects, impart "the highest scientific education in their subjects," and demand the same previous schooling as do the universities.

As classified by Lexis, they are, with dates of founding : —

1. Mining Academies : Berlin, 1770 ; Clausthal (Prussia), 1775; Freiberg (Saxony), 1766.

2. Forestry Academies : Eberswalde (Prussia), 1830 ; Munden (Prussia), 1868 ; Tharandt (Saxony), 1811; Aschaffenburg (Bavaria), 1807 ; Eisenach (Saxe-Weimar), 183o.

3. Agricultural High Schools : Berlin, 1870 Bonn-Poppelsdorf (Prussia), 1847 ; Hohenheim (Wurttemberg), 1818 ; Weihenstephau (Bavaria), 1804.

4. Veterinary High Schools: Berlin, 1887; Hanover (Prussia), 1887 ; Munich (Bavaria), 1890; Dresden (Saxony), 1889; Stuttgart (Wurttemberg), 189o.

5. Commercial High Schools : Cologne (Prussia), 1900; Frankfort (Prussia), 1901; Leipzig (Saxony), 1898.

6. High Schools of Art : Berlin, 1696 ; Dusseldorf, Cassel, Konigsberg (Prussia), Munich (Bavaria), Dresden (Saxony), Stuttgart (Wurttemberg).

7. High Schools of German Army and Navy Administration: (1) Berlin; (2) Kiel; (3) Munich. Separate education of boys and girls is the preferred policy in Germany, but owing to its impracticability in the rural schools, two thirds of the children in the Volksschulen are in mixed classes. In the cities, however, less than half of this proportion is found.

In secondary education separate schools is the universal rule, and the schools for girls are of a distinctive character. For many years they were rated only as advanced elementary schools, or Mittelschulen. The first gymnasium for girls was established in 1893 in Berlin and was followed by others. " In all these schools the curricula are planned to supplement the earlier training of girls, that they may graduate on a level with the boys of the gymnasium." - In order that they may accomplish this the course extends over ten years. The enrollment in the higher girls' schools is about two thirds of that of the boys.

Under act of August 15, 1908, Prussia established a new plan for the higher education of girls by which girls with three years of elementary school preparation are given a seven-years course from which they graduate at about sixteen years of age. Upon graduation from this grade of school three forms of higher education are open: (I) a two-years course in various subjects —educational psychology, hygiene, housekeeping, bookkeeping, political economy, etc.; (2) the seminary for those preparing to teach ; (3) the Sludien-Anstalt, an institution of Realgymnasium type.

Higher education of women has been persistently frowned upon by official Germany, although for some time women have been permitted informal attendance upon lectures. In 1903, for the first time, women were granted matriculation in a German university. This was in Munich, and since then other universities have conceded to women all academic rights, so that now there are more matriculated than non-matriculated women students in the German universities.'

By way of summary of the more recent attitude of Germany towards its women, we may well quote from Professor Miinsterberg. " The efforts of this new Germany in the interests of the women have taken four different forms, four tendencies, which naturally hang together, but externally are sometimes even antagonistic. The first movement, which applies to the largest number of individuals, is that which tends to soften the hardships of the female wage earner, especially among the laborers ; the second seeks to raise the character of the general education of girls in the higher classes ; the third endeavors to open new sources of income to the better educated women of narrow circumstances; and the fourth has as its aim the clearing of the way for women of special talent, that they may live out their genius for the good of humanity."



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