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Schule or Real-Schule, second degree, of Prussia and Saxony, are nearly identical in rank and study-plan; the latter differing from that of the Real-Schule proper only in omitting Latin entirely, and giving greater attention to the modern languages and the branches relating to practical life. These schools are very popular and successful.
Gymnasia are schools where students are prepared for the universities, and correspond to our best Latin schools and colleges combined, receiving boys at seven and graduating them at about eighteen years of age. The course of study in these gymnasia is of the most thorough and broad character, demanding the utmost devotion of students during the entire period of eleven years, and graduating them with a more thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the classics than is often found in the graduates of the best colleges in the United States.
The above-named schools embrace all, in effect, that are comprised in the justly-celebrated system of public instruction for boys in Germany.
Elementary art-schools.—The Gewerbe-Schule, (school of industry,)or art-school, is a class of school generally established in large cities and towns in Germany, where apprentices to the various handicrafts receive instruction in their special trades. In Heidelberg, and other cities of Germany, all employers are compelled by law to allow their apprentices to attend the Gewerbe-Schule each evening in the week and every Sunday morning. Thorough instruction is given in free-hand- and mechanical drawing, in connection with geometry and algebra, that pupils may understand the principles as applied. Here, also, are taught the first principles of architecture, molding, sculpture, &c. An apprentice in any craft can receive instruction in the principles lying at the foundation of his own special work. Evidence of superior talent in any direction is noticed, and its possessor frequently has opportunity offered to enter another institution of higher grade, where he can pursue his studies under professors of eminence. These art-schools are invaluable in furnishing skilled artisans, and are the cause of the superiority of German to English and American workmen of the same class.
Schools for girls.—In the German system of public instruction, there is a direct acknowledgment of the mental inequality of the sexes. Boys and girls are never found in the same school, except in some Dorf-, or country., school where the population is sparse, or in a few of the lowest class of schools in the cities, and then only for the first two or three years, and in all girls' schools the course of study is very limited.
The Bürger-Schule for girls is the most common. The study-plan is nearly identical with that in the same class of school for boys, except that girls are not taught the elementary principles of geometry, needle-work and knitting being substituted. In gymnastics, the drill is the same as in the boys' schools. No opportunities have been offered in the public schools for the further instruction of girls, until within a few years, when Töchterschulen, (girls' schools,) and Höhere-Töchterschulen, (girls' high schools,) have been opened in some of the cities. A very small number, comparatively, have opportunity to attend these, and they are rather an experiment, and not yet fully acknowledged as an established fact and as making part of the system. The Victoria School in Berlin is an excellent specimen of this class. The following plan of study shows the highest facilities furnished girls or young ladies in any of the public schools of Germany. It is the one adopted in the Girls' High School, Wiesbaden, Nassau.
First year, girls seven years of age: Religion, reading, writing, arithmetic, with handwork, needlework, &c.
Second year: Same as first.
Third year: The same, except omitting arithmetic, and adding German and French grammar, and fine penmanship.
Fourth year: Religion, German and French, geography, arithmetic, singing, penmanship, handwork, needlework, &c.
Fifth year: Same as last, omitting arithmetic, and adding drawing, history, and English language.
Sixth year: Religion, German, French, and English history, natural history, geography, arithmetic, singing, fine penmanship, drawing, handwork, and gymnastics.
Seventh year: Same as previous, adding literature.
Eighth and ninth years: Same as sixth, with a more extended course of literature, and the addition of embroidery.
Latin, geometry, algebra, the elements of chemistry, natural philosophy, physics, astronomy, and other equally useful branches, are entirely omitted. The private schools for girls are rarely equal to those described above, and a parent wishing to give a daughter a superior education can only do it, at great expense, through private tutors.
Such, in brief, is the, in many respects, best system of public instruction ever adopted in any country, admirably adapted to the purpose designed, wrought out with wonderful skill and exactness, and so all-embracing as to be adapted to every child throughout Germany. While acknowledging the great superiority of this system as a whole, it is impossible to concede to it absolute perfection.
Defects of the German school system. Its principal defects seem to be these : I. It is autocratic, not allowing parents any voice whatever in school-matters.
II. It is unjust toward girls, declaring and perpetuating the idea of their great mental inferiority.
III. It is undemocratic, in its schools for different classes or castes in society.
IV. It is sectarian, and narrowly bigoted in the religious dogmatic instruction prescribed and forced upon all.
V. It is not a free-school-system, the schools being almost universally tuition-paying. This the German educators contend is far better for the schools.
Caste distinction established and maintained in schools.—As an illustration of the determination of the government to keep up the distinctions of caste in the schools, may be mentioned an occurrence in Berlin during the winter of 1869-'70. Parents in the lower classes, ambitious for their sons' advancement, would exert themselves to pay the few thaler's difference in the tuition between the burgher and real-schools, sending them to the latter, or higher, grade of school. This course being pursued by increasing numbers of late years, the effect has been to crowd the real at the expense of the burgher schools, furnishing also opportunities for pursuing branches of study which the government considers not only unnecessary, but absolutely hurtful, to the lower classes. This difficulty was obviated by raising the price of tuition in the real-schools, and lowering it in the burgher schools, so that the latter were in reality free. This had the effect of keeping the children of the laboring classes in schools by themselves. Practically, therefore, the children in the community are separated by government into three or four distinct grades, where studies are arranged with reference to their future position in life, which, by this means, is, in fact, decided for them.
SCHOOL-BUILDINGS, FURNITURE, APPARATUS, TEXT-BOOKS, ETC. School-buildings.—Throughout Germany, the buildings used for schools are almost universally old and massive, constructed of brick or stone, with immensely thick walls. Most of these were erected during the last century, some for school-purposes, others having been used for government-purposes. These edifices are ill-adapted to the wants of the times, looking more like prisons than places for the young. The windows are small, inconveniently constructed, and with insufficient light, which often falls upon the desks as cross-light. Threefourths of the school-buildings in Germany are of this description; and though some of the new ones are on an improved plan, too frequently are the new patterned after the old. No attention whatever is paid to ventilation, and it is impossible to convey to an American any idea of the condition of the schools in this respect. The pupils are universally pale and sallow; and oculists consider the afflictions of the eyes, so common among Germans, due in a great degree to the impure air and defective light of the school-rooms, where so large a part of their youth is spent. Even in buildings constructed upon good principles, the ventilating-apparatus is rarely sufficiently used to accomplish its object.
Furniture, desks, S4C.-In all classes of educational institutions in Germany, the furniture is of the plainest character, inconvenient, and uncomfortable. The general type is such as was used in Massachusetts forty years ago. The plank desk is sufficiently long to accommodate five or six pupils, who sit upon a plank of equal length, six inches wide, without back, except as the desk behind may serve as such. Teachers are generally anxious to introduce improved desks and benches, and physicians urge a change on grounds of health.
Apparatus.—The Germans excel all other nations in the beauty and accuracy of their maps, charts, and globes, yet these are rarely seen in the lower class of schools, while in the higher they are generally kept in a room with other apparatus, to be taken and used in the classes as desired. The walls are almost universally bare of apparatus or pictures of any kind; even blackboards are confined to a single one of moderate dimensions behind the teacher's desk, for his especial use. The apparatus used to illustrate the principles of geography, chemistry, and natural philosophy is good, but scarcely equal in quality to that of high schools generally in the United States.
Text-books.—The method which generally prevails of imparting instruction is such that comparatively few text-books are used, and these much inferior to the ones in use with us. It is through the faithful instruction and hard plodding of both teacher and pupil that so much is accomplished in the German schools. With fewer outward facilities than we possess, they yet attain much more in the end of book-knowledge.
The teacher's profession, character, preparation, and social position.—Teaching is an established profession in Germany; it is not made a stepping-stone to other professions, as it so often is with us. Young men pursue their studies with special reference to their future position as teachers, usually taking their degree as doctor of philology, and enter at once upon their calling. Teachers are of three grades: Lehrer, (teacher;) Oberlehrer, (over-teacher;) and professor. Examinations of different degrees of severity, according to the grades in the profession, are conducted by government-officials, and certificates given. No one can teach in a public or private school in Germany without such certificate. Most teachers of high schools are graduates of a university, and most of the common teachers are graduates of some teachers' seminary. Thus, all teachers, whether public or private, are under the control of, and amenable to, the government, which is exceedingly strict and dictatorial in this department of public service.
The profession of teaching assures to a man a high standing and social position, owing, in large measure, to the fact of teachers being government. officers, and of certain literary attainments. As a class, they are thoroughly well-informed in matters relating to their special calling, and anxious for reforms in the system. Teachers in Germany are poorly paid; their salaries ranging from 200 or 300 thaler in the country to 600 or 1,000 thaler in the city, rarely reaching 1,500 thaler per annum. They are not worked so severely as our teachers, and often add to their income by giving private lessons. Lady teachers are rarely employed in the public schools; never in teaching boys beyond ten years of age, seldom girls of twelve. For some years a limited number have been employed in the lowest schools of the cities, but their number does not increase to any considerable extent. Neither government, professors, nor the community consider women fitted for this work. The director of the Friedrich-Wilhelms Real-Schule, Dr. Ranke, concludes, from his experience, that ladies are too irritable, and possess too little self-control, to instruct and manage children well. The superintendent of schools in Munich objects to them on account of their great susceptibility to the influence of the priests. Others think that their influence in boys' schools tends to develop effeminacy in the lads. With such sentiments pervading the community, it is easy to see that women have a difficult task to establish and maintain a reputation as teachers.