Page images

In any case the work of the elementary schools furnishes no criterion for the selection of pupils for advancement to higher education, so that early selection would be surrounded with risk for the aspiring pupil, while no account would be taken of or provision made for late development. It would also be unjust to the elementary school teachers to deprive them of the pick of their product and the promotion of gifted pupils would mean the withdrawal of an everpresent incentive to the less well endowed. If the views of the radicals were realized and the selection of able pupils for advancement to secondary schools were made by the schools, the rights of parents would be outraged; at the most all that the schools should do would be to advise parents and allow them to act if they choose. The fear was also expressed by no less an authority than Rudolf Eucken that the realization of the common-school proposal would endanger traditional values in school, lower standards, compromise the precious things of German culture, and in the last analysis lead to the establishment of private schools and the perpetuation of a social class to preserve these heritages. Curt Fritzsche," in a work on the Einheitsschule, claims to see the purport of the whole movement in the reception accorded at the Kiel congress of 1914 to the declaration of two French delegates that it represented the international ideal common to all Europe—clearly the aims of the movement are internationalism, democratization, radicalism, antireligious secularization, egoism, and social feuds.

Finally, Ferdinand J. Schmidt, professor of education at the University of Berlin, attacks the movement in an article in Preussische Jahrbücher, October, 1916. He charges the reformers with basing their agitation on political prejudices and class interests. The proposal to establish an extended unified school system, with sixyears of elementary education, three years of intermediate and three of secondary, without distinction for all would lower the standard to meet the needs of the poorest intellect; it would tend to a reduction of the elementary school subjects, and, by consequence, would lower the standards of the secondary schools. Foreign languages would be begun too late, and the boy going out into the world at the age of 15 would have studied French or English for only one year; ultimately languages would disappear entirely from the intermediate stage and with them the most effectual instrument for broadening the mind would be gone. The reformers are the dupes of a pedagogic materialism which would be disastrous to the nation in diverting the aim of education from its true goal—moral culture. Emphasis would then only be placed on developing those qualities and those abilities that would yield most profit.

* Fritzsche, C. Die Einheitsschule in Bibliothek für Volks- und Weltwirtschaft, No. 21, Dresden, 1916.


This is the American method in education with all its dangers. The reform would not result in social equality ; class distinctions continue even in countries that have a unified school system open to all. By boundlessly developing the understanding, which divides and separates, by releasing, without check or hindrance, the intellectual abilities of individuals, by freeing them from that wholesome and indispensable discipline of social morality, they are bringing about, with the best intentions in the world, the overthrow and dismemberment of national unity.

Early in 1916 the subject came within the realm of practical politics when the educational estimates for 1916–17 were brought up for debate in the Prussian House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus). The Social Democrats and the Progressive Volkspartei came forward with a demand for the abolition of the Vorschule and the throwing open of opportunities for ability in whatever grade of society it might appear. The Vorschule is merely a school for those privileged by class, who made no other use of their educational opportunity than to advance as far as the Einjährigenzeugnis. If the principle of the Einheitsschule were adopted the best pupils would pass on completion of their elementary school course to the secondary school and in five or six years obtain the Reifezeugnis or certificate of maturity that would admit them to the universities. Both proposals met with opposition from the conservatives and the clericals who feared that the common-school movement would involve secularization. They were prepared to grant one concession that the transfer of pupils from the elementary to the secondary schools should be made as easy as that from the Worschule. On behalf of the Government the minister of education admitted the need of establishing facilities for transferring able pupils from the elementary to the secondary schools and suggested the organization of a Mittelschule for this purpose. He referred to an experiment that had already been conducted in Berlin whereby pupils from elementary schools were transferred to the Quarta class or third year of the Realschule and in four years attained to the Einjährigenzeugnis. Such pupils could then move on to the Oberrealschule and at 19 or 20 be ready to pass on to the universities.

In the course of 1916 announcements appeared in the press that the ministry of education was preparing regulations to enable fit and selected pupils, after three years in an elementary school, to be transferred without further examination to a secondary school, thus enjoying practically the same privilege as the pupils of the Worschule, with the difference that, if found deficient, they could be returned to the elementary grades. This proposal met with a storm of opposition; it was feared that the secondary schools would be invaded and that the teachers and principals of these schools would not have the power to turn pupils back to the elementary schools. The result was

that the ministry denied that it was even considering such a suggestion, and stated that it was merely planning to codify the regulations for the entrance examinations to secondary schools which had remained unchanged since 1837. When the new regulations were issued in August, it was found that they benefitted the Worschule rather than the elementary schools. The question of the Einheitsschule again came up in the course of the debate on the estimates for 1917–18 and the Government was then compelled to act. The position of the minister of education showed clearly that the ground had been shifted. From the consideration of the Einheitsschule and of plans for facilitating the transition from the elementary to the secondary school, the problem had been narrowed down to that of selecting gifted elementary school pupils for advancement to higher education. The minister announced that he had early in 1917 addressed the following questions to all district inspectors: (a) In what elementary school organizations can a good pupil pass into sexta of a secondary school without necessitating special arrangements or alterations in the school program? (b) If such organizations do not exist, what changes would have to be made in the program to render these transfers possible? (c) Can such changes be made without disadvantage to the other students? If not, suggestions should be made for special arrangements to meet the needs of the gifted pupil. It was announced that an experiment was being conducted by the Government at Königsberg and plans were in progress for dealing with the needs of gifted children in Berlin, Frankfort, Breslau, Mannheim, and Hamburg. The new movement for the selection of gifted and exceptional children seems to have had the effect of checking completely any further demands for the Einheitsschule. In the schools systems to which reference is made above Begabtenschulen have been or are in process of being established, and it is not improbable that this compromise will be accepted by both sides. Nowhere has a common school been put into operation, and teachers' associations appear to have been active in promoting the new experiments, which are limited to facilitating access to middle and secondary schools to gifted and exceptional (Begabten and Hochbegabten pupils) in elementary schools. In Berlin such an experiment was introduced on the suggestion of Geheimer Justizrat Cassel, a member of the Progressive Volkspartei, who urged, in the Prussian Abgeordnetenhaus, in 1916, the establishment of facilities in each province to enable pupils on finishing the elementary schools to continue to a higher school and reach the Reifezeugnis or maturity certificate in five or six years. Such a plan, he stated, would be of advantage to children of poor parents in larger cities as well as to children in small towns and rural areas who could enjoy the blessings of home influences up to 14. Dr. Reiman, the director of education for Berlin, adopted the suggestion and the Begabtenschule was established in 1917 for the admission of exceptional and studious pupils who have completed the first seven years of the elementary school course. The work of the Begabtenschule begins with that of Untertertia of a secondary school; during the first year the pupils are under probation and, if they fail to meet the standards, may be discharged, that is, at the age at which they would ordinarily have reached the close of the compulsory attendance period. After two years, that is after Untersekunda, a choice is open between the course of a gymnasium or of a realgymnasium. The schools do not grant the privilege of one year military service, but after six years lead to the maturity certificate which admits to the university. The BegabtenSchule is open to able pupils of all classes; fees are remitted for poor pupils, and books and, in case of need, maintenance grants up to 300M ($75) a year are granted. The pupils must be recommended by their schools and are selected on the basis of psychological intelligence tests. The first tests were conducted by W. Moede and C. Piorkowski, psychologists who had met with success in selecting motor transport drivers for the army by tests which were used in all sections of this branch of the service. This selection is based on tests of attention and concentration, memory, combinations, wealth of ideas, judgment, attention, and observation. The authors of these tests declare that “reviewing the precise results of the analytical and systematic tests, the professional psychologist can not refuse to accept the responsibility for his decisions based on good scientific principles.” Dr. Reimann plans to test pupils with artistic or technical bent and select them at 13 or 14 for higher trade schools to train as painters, jewelers, designers, embroiderers, cabinetmakers, lithographers, and other crafts. Dr. Rebhuhn has prepared an observation sheet which was presented by the Association for Exact Pedagogy to the city school board to be used by teachers as soon as pupils commence to show marked ability and to serve as a record from the second year up. A similar plan was inaugurated at Leipzig for boys, and provision will be made for girls. Special classes were established at a Reform School and an Oberrealschule, closely coordinated with the elementary schools. The course begins in Untertertia with intensive study of French for three quarters of a year, when English or Latin is taken up. After another year the pupils are ready to take their place in the normal class of the school (Untersekunda). Tuition, books, and maintenance allowances are granted in case of need. Since the number of selected pupils is restricted to 20 each year, they are the very exceptional only (herworragend Begabten). In order not to flood the academic and professional careers similar experiments will

be attempted in other schools, e. g., school of commerce, technical school, and trade schools. A somewhat different plan has been adopted at Hamburg, where it was originally intended to establish a transition or special class to coordinate the elementary secondary schools. In place of this, owing to the insistence of the teachers and the House of Burgesses, a new type of school is organized that avoids such half measures. At 10 years of age; that is, on completing the fourth school year, pupils are specially selected for the new schools, of which 22 have been established (14 for boys and 8 for girls), to provide either a fouryear German course or a five-year course with foreign languages. These schools are similar to the Prussian middle schools and carry the privilege of admission to certain higher trade schools and to the State examination for the one-year military privilege. The pupil who completes the course of such schools can by way of the Oberrealschule or the Realgymnasium pass on to the universities. The selection of the gifted pupils is based partly on the psychological observations by the teachers and psycholocical tests by an expert, for both of which Dr. W. Stern, of the Psychological Institute, is responsible. The psychological observations are recorded in a specially prepared folder indicating the home conditions and school record of the pupil, his adaptability, attentiveness, susceptibility to fatigue, powers of observation and comprehension, memory, imagination, thought, language, industry, disposition and will power, special interests, and abilities. The psychological tests include the logical arrangements of ideas, explanation of concepts, completion test, building of sentence on the basis of keywords, the derivation of the moral of a story, the discovery of logical absurdities, the finding of a legend for a series of pictures, and test of attentiveness. Stern claims that the cooperation of the teachers makes the Hamburg system superior to the Berlin plan of selecting on the basis of tests alone; it should also be mentioned that the selection in Hamburg is under the supervision of a committee of the superintendent, inspectors, principals, teachers, and psychologists. For pupils who develop at a later stage than those for whom these arrangements are made transition classes have been established in two Realschulen in which after one year they can pass on to the last year of the school and qualify for the one-year military privilege. Breslau has established special classes for boys and girls of great ability (Hochbegabten) selected at about the age of 12 by a psychological expert on the basis of intelligence tests similar to those used in Hamburg. Pupils who succeed in these schools will be encouraged by the city to proceed along suitable lines. The city will look after the education of selected pupils, who could thus be under the observa

« PreviousContinue »