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wonderful exactness. I think it quite impossible for any government, save one of absolute power, or one of high intelligence and moral worth, to inaugurate and carry into execution such an all-embracing system.
Massachusetts is probably ready, under the inspiration and lead of a second Horace Mann, to accept an equally thorough course and plan of education, yet I am sure the intelligence and free thought of her people would reject much which is objectionable in the German, and which men of advanced thought in Germany are anxiously striving to expunge from their system. In illustration of this, I will read an extract from the circular of the International Congress of Education (Frankfort, 1869):
“To realize the idea which is the moving principle of the country, of political and social reform, according to the spirit of the age, nothing is more pressing than a reform in popular education. In spite of the high development of schools as a means of instruction, educational systems in general are very far from being able to answer the demand of our age. Particularly they are not fitted to give that firm, moral base and the development of that strength of character which all true and great nationality requires, and without which the real dignity of man is not possible.”
I believe we are to have in the United States, a system of public instruction in no respect inferior, and in many features superior to any which is possible in a community less nobly free than our own; nor can it be otherwise, for, with the Germans, the
school buildings are erected; teachers selected, employed and paid ; text-books, course of study, etc., decided upon without the least reference to the parents or their representatives. Undoubtedly this is, in a great degree, perhaps wholly, due to the despotic form of government under which they live, which arrogates to itself the complete and unlimited control of every part of the machinery of society, political, social, religious or educational. Any interference in the above matters is considered an assumption on the part of a citizen, so outrageous that none have the temerity to attempt it. This statement is, in justice, due to the German parents, for, in all matters touching the education of their children where their influence can be felt, I am sure the unselfish devotion to the interests of their children is not excelled by parents in any part of the world. With us each intelligent parent feels a direct interest and responsibility in the schools, as evidenced in carefully selecting and voting for the persons, generally of high character, under whose control the schools are to be placed, and in appropriations, so liberal, for their support. In Germany a parent is not invited or allowed to visit the schools where his children are, even at annual examinations and inspections. I have been present day after day for weeks, without the presence of a single parent, while in our best schools and communities their personal interest is shown by numerous visits which are considered mutually beneficial with pupils, teachers and parents. With these preliminary remarks, I
proceed with the names of the different classes or grades of schools included in the system, with the special work assigned them as seen in their studyplan, and which constitutes each a complete and graded school in itself, into which pupils enter and remain during their whole school life.
(1.) The Dorf Schule or Village School of the country, and the Burger Schule or Citizens' School of the city, are for the children of peasants, humbler workmen and mechanics, and the course of study prescribed for these is quite similar; thorough, though not extended, but well-fitted for those whose future condition must, with rare exception, be the same as their parents. In these the common branches are taught as with us, nor is it possible for children to pass through the seven or eight years of school life, entering as they do at seven years of age and continuing till fourteen, at least till confirmation, without attaining a very fair degree of proficiency in the branches of reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and history, with some branches of natural science and singing, also the Lutheran catechism pretty thoroughly memorized, and which occupies much of their time. during the whole school course.
The Zolkschulen, or People's Schools, of the cities and larger towns, are for the children of the lowest and poorest classes of artisans, day-laborers, servants, etc. In these Zolkschulen the tuition is usually free, the only non-tuition paying schools, therefore they are often termed pauper-schools, the parents of these children being too poor to pay any tuition. Two
years ago the lower grades of Burger schools were made free in Berlin.
The course and extent of the study-plan in this class of schools, is limited, but such as is designed to qualify all the pupils in the common elementary branches that they may discharge the duties of their menial employments with fair intelligence.
The following is the study-plan. The first year in school, the pupils study poetry, etc., committed to memory, writing, reading, and arithmetic, and are instructed in religion. The second year penmanship and practice in conversation are added ; the third year Bible history, geography, and natural science.
In the remaining four years the full course is, education in religion, Bible history, reading and conversation, penmanship, arithmetic, geography, history, natural history, and singing, to which is often added instruction and practice in various handworks-basket-making, mat-platting, etc., for the boys, plain sewing, cutting out, etc., for the girls.
During the first three or four years of school life, the sexes are taught together in these schools. When convenient and economical, they are then separated and taught by themselves, as is invariably the case in cities and large towns. In the smaller country villages where the population is sparse, boys and girls are taught together during the whole course.
Thus it is seen that the course of study prescribed for the schools where the children of the poorer classes attend, is by no means
extended, but sufficient to qualify them for the discharge of their various duties pertaining to the humbler spheres in life which they are sure to occupy. It is claimed that to extend the course in these schools would prove injurious to the class of youth who attend them, by stimulating ambition and exciting desires which, while it is impossible for them to realize, serve only to cause discontent with their lot, and consequent loss of time. It is not my purpose to discuss the theory above stated at this time, though as much can be said in favor of, as in opposition to the same.
Probably four-fifths of the German immigrants in our own country are graduates from the Dorf or Burger Schule. As before stated, the Burger Schule are of several grades, some of the highest of which, as in Berlin, Nassau, and Heidelburg, I found of a superior character to any of our Grammar, and ranking with our common English High School.
Next in the ascending order or class of Schools is the Real. These are of first, second, and third grades, to meet the demands of a more or less intelligent community, and are designed for the sons of all those who can afford the expense of tuition—thirty to thirtyfive thaler — twenty-one to twenty-five dollars per annum, and who also wish them thoroughly taught in all the branches usually included in a broad course of school education preparatory to entering the commercial, mercantile, mechanical or other pursuits, the great proportion of whom continue their studies no further than is attained in these schools during