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"The fundamental characteristic of Germany today is weakness in community feeling and strength in individual life", declared Dr. Fritz Kellerman, Professor in Kassel, who delivered the first of his series of three lectures on education and the German youth movement, last night in Emerson D.
"We are not a nation", continued the speaker, who has attained a high degree of prominence in Europe as a student of the modern drama particularly, "but rather a group of 65 million people striving for individualism. To bind this mass the German government acts as a huge vise. This lack of community spirit is due largely to the 27 political parties which flourish in Germany today and to the large number of religious creeds. The dominant note is so largely that of individualism that there are no social sciences taught in the schools and universities. The watchword of the German social life today is 'keep your distance from the other fellow'.
Germany Lacks Spirit of Cohesion
"Overcrowded intellectualism, poor health, and weak nerves characterize schools and universities today", continued Dr. Kellerman. "In the German universities, there are no regular classes, no class spirit, and no college spirit. The professors read technical, scientific lectures and are indifferent as to whether the students attend or not. Faculty meetings are unheard of, the professors being engrossed with their own studies. In neither the Gymnasium nor the universities does one find any form of extra-curricular activities. Parties, social gatherings, clubs, and other forms of group recreation are seldom found to exist in any of the higher institutions of learning. There is an absolute lack of sport enthusiasm and the old patriotism is regarded by the limited classes which still hold the feeling as a necessary or rather unnecessary evil.
"In 1924 the Prussian Minister of Education initiated a reform of the system of education which is now in effect in Prussia and most of the other states of Germany. Why was a reform necessary? Because the schools and Gymnasiums had separated themselves from the deepest roots of the historical German mentality and had become the bondsmen of the materialistic, industrialistic, and the technical age of Germany since 1870. They had drifted into a formless, superficial, and souless omniscience. In Germany one hears nowadays that the old school teacher won the war in 1870, and that the Gymnasium instructor lost the last one in 1914.
"The new principles of teaching are based largely on the feelings of the youth movement, which are vitalism, creationism, and particularism. The new schools choose one phase of the history of mankind and try to penetrate into this phase using it as a means of forming a new all around, harmonious German personality. Under the new system we have four distinct types of Gymnasium corresponding to the four districts which compose modern culture. These four types are: first, the Humanistic Gymnasium in which the students take up the study of Classicism; second, the Europeanistic Gymnasium which takes up the phases of European language, history, and arts; thirdly, the Mathematical or Scientific Gymnasium; and fourthly, the German Gymnasium which takes up the German language, literature, history, and art through the middle ages up to the present time.
"The Gymnasiums may be entered at the age of ten years after completion of the 'grundschule' which gives a four year course. Entrance examinations are now given for admittance and thus the sole qualification for the Gymnasiums is intellectual ability rather than wealth as was formerly the case. Poor students are admitted as readily as richer pupils and they are aided by a reduction in tuition and help in the form of regular stipends. If one does not go to the Gymnasium after completing the 'grundschule', he continues the compulsory education until the age of 16.
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