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Secondary School Reform in Imperial Germany

Secondary School Reform in Imperial Germany

James C. Albisetti
Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Secondary School Reform in Imperial Germany
    Book Description:

    James C. Albisetti explores the wide-ranging debate in Imperial Germany over the reform of secondary education to meet the new demands posed by unification, industrialization, and urbanization.

    Originally published in 1983.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5308-3
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Part One: The Background

      (pp. 3-15)

      On the morning of 4 December 1890, in the auditorium of the Prussian Ministry of Religion, Education, and Medicine at Unter den Linden 4, the thirty-one-year-old Kaiser Wilhelm II addressed a conference of educators who averaged nearly twice his age. The purpose of his speech, one of the longest this loquacious monarch ever delivered, was to inform the assembled delegates of his will regarding the reform of secondary education. The tirade he aimed at the existing system, in which most of those present had risen to prominence, sounded three major themes. In the first place, Wilhelm argued that the secondary...

      (pp. 16-35)

      Although its roots reached back to the Latin schools of the Middle Ages, the classical Gymnasium with which the Kaiser found so much fault in 1890 was essentially a product of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It was shaped by a combination of an educational ideal expounded by some of the leading figures in the flowering of German culture around 1800, including Herder, Fichte, and Goethe, with the growing intervention of the Prussian state in the educational system. In the course of the nineteenth century, the Gymnasium developed into the cornerstone of the educational systems of all the...

      (pp. 36-56)

      The debate of the school question in Imperial Germany produced such a variety of opinions about the current condition of the secondary schools that the historian faces a challenging task in attempting to determine whose views were most accurate. Fortunately, there are two other sources of information about the schools that are not so tainted by partisanship: the reports of foreign visitors to German schools and the memoirs of pupils who attended Gymnasien in the late nineteenth century. Both types of sources provide valuable insight into the atmosphere of the classical schools in this period, in comparison to both foreign...

  6. Part Two: Issues and Inaction, 1868–1888

      (pp. 59-118)

      When Kaiser Wilhelm told the school conference of 1890 that the Gymnasium had failed to keep pace with the needs of modern Germany, he was making a statement both obvious and problematical. That the classical schools had changed much less radically since the days of Humboldt, or even since the regulations of the 1830s, than had the political, economic, social, and technical realities of German life, was undeniable. Less certain, however, was what exactly, in a popular phrase of the time, the “demands of the present” on the Gymnasien were. Given the belief that classicalBildungwas specific training for...

      (pp. 119-139)

      European culture in thefin-de-sièclewas obsessed by fears of decadence, degeneration, and nervousness. In the post-Darwinian world, where the notion of the survival of the fittest was applied indiscriminately to all areas of human interaction, many people worried that the haste, crowding, and unsanitary conditions of life in modern cities would produce future generations less able to compete in the struggle for existence. Englishmen and Frenchmen worried about declining birthrates that would lead to German domination of Europe, while the German Kaiser popularized the notion of the “Yellow Peril” about to swamp Europe from the East.² Fictional works such...

      (pp. 140-168)

      Intimately related to both the interest in modernizing the secondary schools and the fears associated with the overburdening of Gymnasium pupils was the third theme sounded in Kaiser Wilhelm’s speech to the school conference of 1890: the need to give German language, literature, and history a larger role in German secondary education. In the 1880s, a very diverse collection of school reformers argued that such a concentration on the national culture could serve both to replace the unpopular ancient languages at the core of secondary schooling and to generate the vitality and enthusiasm so broadly perceived as lacking among the...

  7. Part Three: The Kaiser and the School Conferences

      (pp. 171-207)

      Overshadowed by the political, diplomatic, and military events of a thirty-year reign, Wilhelm II’s ideas and actions in the area of school reform have received little attention from historians of Imperial Germany.² Yet his opinions about the weaknesses in the German educational system, as expressed from the mid-1880s until his years of exile following World War I, reveal much about his complex personality as well as his perceptions of the changing society he ruled. In particular, his views on school reform in the first years of his reign illuminate his interest in social reform combined with vigorous antisocialism, the issue...

      (pp. 208-242)

      The Prussian school conference of 1890 convened on 4 December in an atmosphere of apprehension on all sides. Educational conservatives feared that the conference would produce further surrender to the “demands of the present,” either in the form of additional dilution of the ancient languages in the Gymnasium or through the opening of more sections of the universities to Realgymnasium graduates. Reformers of all shades, who had been optimistic that the conference would move in the direction set by the Kaiser’s decree on reforming the cadet academies, now doubted that any significant changes could be expected from the body that...

      (pp. 243-291)

      Friedrich Paulsen’s prediction in the wake of the school conference of 1890 that another reform of secondary education would be needed within a decade proved to be accurate. The school conference of 1900, in contrast to the confusion and frustration produced by its predecessor, would lead to reforms that were conciliatory and progressive. It is tempting to attribute the greater willingness to adapt the schools to the demands of the present that emerged at this second conference to the “new spirit of the expiring century” that many historians have recently seen as breaking through not in 1890, but in 1895...

      (pp. 292-314)

      By 1908, all holders of anAbitur, whether male or female, whether from a classical, semiclassical, or modern school, could matriculate at any German university, even if certain fields such as theology continued to require specific preparation. The semiclassical and modern schools were experiencing a substantial rate of growth as the secondary system increased its inclusiveness at the most rapid rate since 1870, and perhaps ever. For a significant fraction of boys and all girls, the modern common foundation for all secondary schools now allowed the delay of tracking until age twelve or thirteen. Although individuals such as Friedrich Paulsen,...

    (pp. 315-356)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 357-366)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 367-367)