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favorably that one would judge it a perfect system, from their reports.
Very rarely have I ever noticed a severe criticism upon the system, or a serious defect pointed out ;this was probably due to the conditions under which the visits and examinations have been made. In the case with Horace Mann, in 1843, and others before and since, the object undoubtedly was, to learn the good features in the system, present and urge their adoption by our people, nor did it enter into their plan at all to occupy the attention of the American people with any of its defects.
With many others, I must believe that their visits and examinations have been altogether too brief to afford more than a very superficial knowledge of the system, in its varied and complicated parts. While freely and gladly acknowledging the great superiority of this system, as a whole, to any other with which I am acquainted, it is, in my estimation, far from perfect, and inferior, in certain respects, to that adopted in some of our States, and carried into successful operation in several of our cities, towns and communities.
With great diffidence the criticisms I make were first suspected; then held doubtingly, till, by conversations and discussions with very many teachers and educators, I ascertained that they often held similar views, and, from increased familiarity with the schools, I was convinced of the following defects:
I. They are autocratic.—This characteristic is inseparable from the despotic form of government of the German States,—with every department of military or civil life, and requires no further proof.
II. Grossly unjust and illiberal towards women.It is not necessary to add to what was seen in the study-plan of the girls' schools, and from the fact of their exclusion from all the higher schools throughout Germany, to convince American teachers and educators of the great injustice towards the sex. In none of the above mentioned Government schools are ladies employed as teachers in any considerable number, nor could I learn that the tendency is to increase the number, for, as was stated, the mental inferiority of woman is quite universally believed by all classes, not excepting the women themselves.
From my observations in the German schools, there is scarcely any movement so calculated to improve them, in my judgment, as admitting both sexes to the schools of every grade, and the introduction of thoroughly competent lady teachers of culture and refinement, tending, as it surely would, to render the girls more natural and womanly, and the boys purer and more manly.
III. Undemocratic. — This is readily seen from what has already been said. It is so in its whole plan and execution ; it is next to impossible for a parent to exercise the least control, even over the education of his own child, though in a school to which he must send, and regularly, from the seventh to the fifteenth year. In the country, and in villages, it is generally quite beyond his privilege to select the school which his children shall attend;
it was, however, found that in the cities and larger towns, where there are different grades of schools established, a difficulty arose ; parents ambitious for their sons' advancement, would exert themselves and pay the few thalers difference in the tuition between the Burger and Real School, sending them to the latter, or higher grade of school.
This course being taken by increasing numbers the past few years, the effect has been to crowd the Real, at the expense of the Burger School, and to furnish opportunities for pursuing branches of study which the Government considers not only unnecessary but actually pernicious to the lower classes. The difficulty was obviated most adroitly and in the following manner. Though the price of tuition is low, as we estimate prices, still, twenty-five to thirty thalers per year, is, in fact, a large sum in any German country to an artisan or servant.
The tuition in the Burger Schools was lessened in amount, in order to render them in reality nearly free, while that of the Real School remained the same, or, as in some instances, it was increased in amount.
This occurred in Berlin, 1869 and '70, the season I was there; the result is, as was anticipated and desired, the relieving the upper and filling the lower schools, thus continuing the children of the laboring classes in schools mostly by themselves. Thus, theoretically and practically, the children of the whole community are separated by Government, and kept in three or four distinct grades of school by them
selves, where the studies are arranged with special reference to their future position in life. Much more can be said to show how this principle of caste operates in the schools, but enough. It is not my desire here to discuss the question whether the German system is better, as they claim, for the Government to decide the class of school, course of study, and thus determine the future social condition of the child, or, as with us, leave that to the parent or, as is so often the case, allow our youth to study, in hap-hazard style, various branches with no thought of 'their adaptability to the requirements of their future position and calling.
There is much to be said upon each side, and probably the true course lies between the two. Certainly the intelligent parent better knows the peculiar traits of character in his or her child than any outside observer.
IV. The Schools are denominational, narrow and bigoted. As previously stated, all children must enter school at seven and continue till fourteen years of age, or till confirmation in the church, which often requires longer continuance. No sects are acknowledged or tolerated in schools in nearly all the German states, but Lutheran Protestant, Catholic and, of late, Jewish. If of Catholic or Jewish parentage, the child is allowed to receive religious instruction from the Priests of their own faith. All others are forced to study the Bible and catechism under the strictest Lutheran construction which, though adapted to the dark ages of Luther's time, is quite unsuited to the advanced thought of the nineteenth century. This continues from the beginning of the seventh year to the fifteenth, and, as is seen from the studyplans, occupies very much of the pupil's time, both in and out of school, during the whole seven years of school life.
Hence the parents belonging to any Protestant sect, whether Trinitarian or Unitarian, are, in Prussia, and most German states, forced to submit to have their children study, for years, a catechism inculcating dogmas utterly at variance with their own yiews; nor is this all, for they must undergo a rigid examination in the principles of, and be confirmed in, the church with which they have little or no sympathy, the same whether they attend public or private schools, or have been taught by private tutors at home. You ask how can this be enforced ?" No merchant can employ a native German lad in his place of business,—no mechanic accept as an apprentice,-no housekeeper a servant girl, unless they can produce a certificate of church confirmation. In fact, no marriage can be entered into in Prussia, Saxony, and some other German states, without such certificate from each party. The following incident fell under my own observation, and will illustrate how tenaciously the semi-heathen and barbarous laws of Luther's time are still maintained, notwithstanding the accumulated light of three hundred and fifty years demonstrates their worse than absurdity.
A young lady of our acquaintance in Germany,