Billeder på siden

instruction, nay, must penetrate it, or education becomes antiquated and fossilised. But it must not penetrate directly and immediately, but at a certain interval of time, and by means of the various school-organisations. This will give protection against undue haste. Education and instruction will partake of progress without surrendering themselves immediately to every impression which fashion or a transitory mood drives like a bubble to the surface. The ideas of the adult world must become clarified before they may be allowed to influence the education of the young; the truth of the vital ideas must become recognised, before these may be allowed to determine the younger generation. Thus calmness and continuity of development will be secured; development will not take place by fits and starts, but will proceed quietly and steadily; the threads connecting us with the past will not wantonly be torn, but will be woven into a web containing no useless material.

Such are the thoughts that occur to us as we survey the development of education and instruction in Germany during the nineteenth century. We do not survey this development, however, merely for the purpose of understanding it and of enriching our store of knowledge, but sub specie aeterni, that is to say, so that we may learn and obtain permanent principles from it. History is the instructor of mankind, and education also can learn valuable lessons from it, if it endeavours to penetrate into the spirit of the development. And though the latter is chiefly determined by factors not controlled by man, there can yet be no doubt that the resolute and persistent will of man can influence the destiny of a people.

We will therefore to-day survey the development of those intellectual tendencies that have swayed the German nation during the nineteenth century in order to obtain from this retrospect a guide for the future organisation of educational work and systems. Other countries besides Germany may also, from a comparative consideration of native develop

ment, see questions arise, the study of which might prove fruitful.

No State shows greater differences between the beginning and the end of the century than Germany. Japan might perhaps bear the comparison, since it also has experienced profound changes during the last decades. At the beginning of the century we see Germany dismembered and subjected by France after the unfortunate battle of Jena in 1806. Napoleon the First had broken the system of Frederic the Great. Prussia had gone to sleep on the laurels of its great king; the Corsican Conqueror gave it a rude awakening but one that was beneficial in its effects. At the beginning of the century people said that the Germans had no fatherland; theirs was in the clouds, in philosophy and in poetry. But through the struggle for independence the Germans came suddenly into contact with hard reality. The Napoleonic wars for freedom saved Germany, and from these wars it gained the imperishable ideal of the unity of the German principalities, the re-establishment of the German Empire in new forms. Decades, however, were to pass before the realisation of this aim. The aim arose during the wars with Napoleon I.; it was realised through the struggle with Napoleon III. At Versailles in 1871 Germany once more obtained a central government, the German Emperor. Division, the misfortune of Germany, was forgotten. With united strength. the nation was able to take its share in the work of civilisation. A great change has come about. The nation, awakened from philosophic speculations and mystic dreams, began to feel its strength grow from year to year. Patriotism was revived and became embodied in the person of the German Emperor.

In this way does the national political picture at the end of the century differ from that at the beginning. At the beginning we behold division, impotence, feebleness; at the end an awakened spirit of unity, pleasure in and strength for work, for progress and for friendly rivalry with other nations. All this, however, was made possible only through quiet and unobtrusive

work in the schools, work going on throughout the century far away from political life. The forces which the nation required were nourished in the schools; in them the ground was prepared for the success which led up to the realisation of the aim; in them the weapons were forged with which the battle for progress was fought. The activity continues even at the present time; and since the re-establishment of the German Empire it bears a national imprint.

2. In social relations also do we find a remarkable difference between the beginning and the end of the century. At the beginning we find German society still bearing the stamp of the Middle Ages. The majority of the inhabitants of Germany are engaged in agriculture. The great landowners, the nobility, take the lead. They are nearest to the throne, they are free, and they take the highest positions in the State and in the army. The citizens in the towns also are free, but not having any political power, they follow the lead of the aristocracy. The lower peasants are not free. It was only in 1809 that "villanage" was abolished, which bound the peasant to the land and the landlord. At the end of the century we behold an entirely different picture. An agricultural state is changed to one engaged in industrial occupations. Thirty millions are maintained by industrial pursuits, while agriculture supports only twenty-five millions. Germany has enrolled itself among the industrial nations, and has thereby taken upon itself new tasks. A new estate, the fourth, the working class, has grown up in Germany, and it also has tried to obtain a position in society. The State has recognised its claims and has improved the material wants of the working classes by means of social legislation. Government gives about £50,000 per diem towards the alleviation of the misery and the improvement of the lower classes. At the same time the State does not neglect their education. They also are to partake of the ideal goods of the nation, the arts and sciences, though within the limits imposed upon the mass of the people by

capacity and occupation. Much trouble and labour has been expended upon the development of the elementary school system. Great tasks are, however, still before us, and the new social grades supply us ever with stimulus for new tasks.

3. Science and Philosophy also show sharp contrasts at the beginning and end of the century. The first half of the century stands under the banner of philosophy, the second half under that of the sciences and technology. The philosopher Kant ushered in a philosophical era, which, with the aid of Fichte, Schelling and Hegel, produced a movement extending far beyond the borders of Germany. The movement reached its culminating point in Hegel. He wished to prove that the psychological development of consciousness and the intellectual development of humanity were identical. In Hegel's philosophy mind becomes the master of nature, and history the master of the individual. Hegel's philosophy, however, aroused the ever-increasing opposition of the advocates of the natural sciences. The sober and cautious thinker Joh. Fr. Herbart, and Schopenhauer, the philosopher of pessimism, had opposed the "fashionable philosophy" of Fichte, Schelling and Hegel, unsuccessfully, however. But what they had been unable to achieve, the second half of the century accomplished. Philosophy lost its predominant position, and Science with methods of exact investigation celebrates its triumphs, so that the nineteenth century has been proclaimed as the age of the natural sciences.


The schools also became involved in this process. elements of culture, which owed their origin to a classical age, were steadily losing their renown and splendour, while the science subjects increasingly gained in charm and attraction. The humanistic subjects maintained their preeminence over the realistic subjects only with the greatest of difficulty.

4. Closely connected with this is the fact that at the end of the century realism of deed finds preference over idealism of thought. As long as Germany was not a State, it could not

develop a political and national conscience. Culture and attitude of mind were individualistic. Man and not the citizen, not the nation, was the centre of interest. Men strove to obtain the praise of a "citizen of the world" rather than that of a zealous patriot. And yet poets and artists were occupied in building up a great German fatherland, the great intellectual empire of the German nation. Weimar was the capital, Schiller and Goethe the chancellors. It was due to them that Germany, intellectually at least, became a nation. Then came the great realist, Bismarck, who welded the various German principalities into a political empire. He added iron to the German blood and thereby raised the worth of the people. And now other work besides that of art and poetry was taken in hand, industrial work, problems of the real world were attacked, that is to say, those of commerce, industry and technology, which are so necessary for the existence of a State. In consequence of this the State proceeded to develop and perfect the technical schools as an organic part of the general school-system.

Love of music and interest in religious questions continued throughout the century as expressions of emotional life. But in this field also far-reaching struggles and mighty changes took place. We need only remind ourselves of the names of Richard Wagner and David Fried. Strauss. These struggles, however, do not affect the core of German life, that is to say, their devotion to the realm of sound, and their faith in a spiritual realm of love and justice, such as was given to the world by Jesus of Nazareth. Richard Wagner's musical dramas infused new life into German antiquity, but added to it a view of life rooted in Christian soil.

It has been said that the fate of Christianity will be decided on German soil, soil which produced Luther, the reformer of the Church. Ever since his time the battle between the catholic and the reformed conception of Christianity has been raging. The former fights under the authority of the Church,

« ForrigeFortsæt »