Imagens da página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

a town, the French school teacher is expected to remain to safeguard the civil population. To him falls the duty of negotiating with the German military authorities, of bargaining with them in regard to proper payment for goods requisitioned and of performing all the functions of administrator, at the same time of keeping up the courage and high sense of patriotic discipline among the stricken inhabitants—and even, if possible, holding classes as usual.

Behind the firing line the tasks of the teachers who for reasons of age or infirmity are not mobilized are almost as arduous. At the outbreak of the war the schoolhouse in the country districts at once became the rallying centre of the community. It is the school teacher who twice daily receives the official communiqués; and in small, outof-the-way places, where newspapers are rare, he copies them in his own handwriting, to be distributed in the district. More often he reads them aloud to the assembled villagers, comments on the military operations, and keeps the community intelligently informed about the course of the war. He reads and writes the letters for the illiterate, receives notices of the deaths of relatives of the people of his district killed in action, arranges the forwarding of packages to the front and to prisoners of war. It was under the direction of the school teachers of France that before the end of the winter campaign of last year over 500,000 woolen mufflers, pairs of socks, mittens, etc., were made and forwarded to the troops in the field. Under their initiative many schoolhouses have been turned into garderies(play-rooms), where the smaller children of the community are kept while their mothers and elder sisters are at work in the field or factory. These children, whose ages range from ten months to six years, are cared for from early morning until nightfall. They are given three good meals, and are often provided with clothing collected by the teachers. The work receives no subvention from the state, and is supported entirely by funds which the school teacher is able to collect. They further instituted the Nöel du soldat, to provide Christmas presents for the troops

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

in the field, a penny from each child bringing over £20,000; while the teachers themselves all over France agreed to give at least 2 per cent of their monthly salary for Red Cross and similar purposes.

Notwithstanding the fact that nearly half the teaching staff of France was called to the colors in the first days of the war, and that many of the schoolhouses and over half the more important school buildings in the chief cities of the country were requisitioned by the military authorities for hospital purposes, the schools have been able to carry on their work. A call for volunteer instructors met with surprizing results. In one school a judge gives the Latin lessons. In another a prefect has taken charge of the courses in German, a dentist teaches natural science, and an artist, an hotel-keeper, a chemist, and a bookkeeper have joined the teaching staffs. Competent substitutes were everywhere found to carry on the work of the absent instructors, so that with the opening of the new school year conditions were again nearly normal, as the military authorities have, whenever possible, evacuated the school buildings.

If we look for the causes of the stoic confidence to be found thruout France and of the firm belief that victory will be achieved, the role of the school teacher in bringing about this point of view can not be overestimated. The Germans are accustomed to proclaim that their battles are won in the classroom, and that the victories in the field are a logical result of the brilliant and solid foundations of German education. France today can boast of an even more remarkable achievement. Every school teacher thruout France has become the interpreter of the ideals and aims of the Allies. He has made the people realize the broader issues of the war, and the need for patience in hours of defeat and for still greater fortitude until the final victory.

WHAT GERMAN CHILDREN ARE TAUGHT (FROM A CORRESPONDENT IN GERMANY) "War and courage have accomplished greater things than love for one's fellowmen.” Nietzsche's phrase, which

IV.

1

had great influence on the thinkers of the modern Germany, is today being handed down to the coming generation with a fresh and immediate significance. War glorified, the one ultimate and vital aim of life—this is the lesson that millions of German schoolboys are daily listening to; this is the text of lectures delivered from numberless platforms and pulpits. “War is the great educator.” “Without war the world would wallow in materialism." "Peace is a dream, not even a lovely dream.”

These are a few ideas that German teachers are putting in the minds of their pupils. In the schoolrooms thruout the Empire today the true meaning of the Great War is being interpreted according to this point of view. Pupils are being taught that this war had to come sooner or later. Germany, it is argued, has developed so rapidly during the past fifty years thru the might of German arms, German industry and German intelligence that she was destined to be surrounded by a circle of enemies jealous of her growing power. German children are being told that fifty years ago Germany began to assert herself by the conquest of Schleswig-Holstein (that old German State) in 1864. This beginning of the struggle for German unity was continued in 1866, and the first stage completed in 1870 by the creation of the German Empire under the hegemony of Prussia. Even in those days England looked askance on the growing power of Germany. It is being instilled into the minds of young Germany that the hatred of neighboring states grew apace with the increase of German naval, military and industrial power. Germany did everything to keep the peace of the world, but was attacked on all frontiers, and is now fighting a defensive war for the outraged honor of the Fatherland.

These ideas, current in Germany at large, are being ground into the minds of the next generation with all the thoroness of the German method by her leading educators. The German schoolboy is being taught by his elders that the peoples of all other nations—not Allied-are cowardly liars and slanderers, and that Germany alone stands for

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

room.

truth and righteousness and relies on the strength of German arms to vindicate German virtues and ideals. Everything foreign must go. Nowhere has this “anti-foreign" rage been more virulently in evidence than in the class

The Verdeutschungsbewegung (Germanizing movement) has gone to such limits that many German pedagogues even declare that it is a sign of slavish weakness on the part of Germans to learn to speak foreign tongues, to act, to think like English or French men.

"A German must shave his head in order to remain a German when living abroad, so rapidly does he assimilate the customs and manners of other peoples," a well-known German remarked to me with much bitterness. But the Germans will see to it, so they declare, that their children shall not in the future be the slaves of any foreign race.

National unity, according to the German dogma, can be maintained only by the awakening of a feeling of national pride in the hearts of every young child. German schools have become schools of patriotism, where duty to the state, abnegation and sacrifice of the individual will to the need of the state are exalted above all other virtues. The German youth is being taught that the State's right and duty is to control not merely the actions, but even the thoughts of her subjects. The individual shall cease to exist, and in his place rises the mighty “Germania,” the product of a united people. "We are not on earth to be happy, but to fulfil our obligations;" Bismarck's words are given a new significance. The German instructor is teaching his classes that the Germans are fighting like heroes against Händler, as warriors against mercenaries, people in arms, whom foreigners are wont to call slaves of a militarist régime, against the slaves of Mammon (England), of empty love of prowess (France) and of the knout (Russia).

Doctrines such as these, imprest on the mind of youth, can not fail to breed a spirit of malice and hatred towards Germany's many enemies of today, which will not only endure but will hinder all plans of permanent peace. In no country has the government more direct control over

as

education than in Germany. In no country are academic influences so subservient to political programmes. And it would appear to be the aim of the German authorities to create a spirit of uncompromising Chauvinism in the hearts of the coming generation.

« AnteriorContinuar »