Page images

to Greek. Two years study only was required of theological students, the third year being for those intending a full university course. The study of physiology was required of those designed for the medical profession, and of Austrian history of legal students. The optional studies were æstheties, with reference particularly to German literature, history of the arts and sciences, pedagogy, practical geometry, agriculture and technology, to which a fourth year could be given. Full liberty was given for the study of diplomacy, the higher mathematics, astronomy, the modern languages, &c. The text-books were prescribed, and the examinations and gradation of the students as at the gymnasiums. The salaries at the lyceums were 800–1,0001., at the universities 1,000-1,2008., at Vienna 1,100–1,500f., (afterwards raised to 1,500–2,000fl.)

Vacant teacherships, when under the control of the State, were open to competition, and the choice determined by an examination of the candidates. The first attempt at the special instruction of teachers was made at Vienna in 1809, but unsuccessfully. In 1811, two assistant teacherships were established with the same design at the university gymnasiums, and also in connection with the philosophical classes at Vienna and Prague.

The number of the gymnasiums had, during this time, gradually increased, owing to the efforts of the religious orders to thus strengthen themselves and at the same time remedy the prevalent scarcity of candidates for the priesthood, many communities also showing a willingness to contribute freely for the establishment of new schools, or the restoration of those that had been suspended. Upon the re-establishment of the Austrian monarchy, after the fall of Napoleon, the gymnasial system of Austria was extended to Salzburg, Carniola, the Littorale, Tyrol and Vorarlberg, and Dalmatia. Some time was found requisite for the re-organization of the schools of Tyrol and Dalmatia, and yet more for that of the gymnasiums and higher schools of Lombardy and Venice. In 1818, philosophical departments existed in connection with the three universities at Vienna, Prague, and Lemberg, and at eight lyceums in as many different provinces. There were also twelve “philosophical schools." The number of gymnasiums was eighty-two, of which twenty-five were in Bohemia, nine in Moravia, eight in each of the provinces of Lower Austria, Tyrol, and Galicia, five in Styria, four in Silesia, three in Dalmatia, while Upper Austria, Carinthia, Carniola, the Littorale, and the Frontier had each two, and Salzburg and Bukowina had each one.

Though the rigidly enforced adherence to the prescribed text-books and to the regulations respecting the extent and distribution of lessons tended to make instruction mechanical on the part of both teacher and scholar, yet much was effected through the labors of the more faithful teachers. But after the peace that relieved the Empire from its struggles with its foreign enemies, a successful effort was made to effect a retrograde movement, and to return gymnasial instruction to the position which it held in the days of Maria Theresa. Everything that favored progress in educa



tion it had become customary to denounce as revolutionary, as protestant and hostile to the church, as Prussian and dangerous to Austria. In 1815, Francis had already taken measures to this end, and in 1818 the system of class teachers was restored and in the following year the time given to instruction in Latin was increased at the expense of that in geog raphy and history, while natural history and physics were wholly omitted. The system of class teachers, already proven inefficient when it made less extensive demands upon the abilities of the teachers, could but decidedly increase the , mechanical character of the instruction given, few having a satisfactory capacity for teaching more than one branch and beyond this but a mere understanding of the contents of the text-books in other branches. An improvement in the text-books now became a prime necessity, but they were left untouched, notwithstanding, too, the great advances that had been made in philological and other sciences. The spirit of alienation from the rest of Germany was producing its legitimate fruits.

In 1820, it was further proposed to limit the philosophical course to those branches most necessary as preparatory for the higher departments. In 1824, this change was effected and the course reduced to two years, to which a third could be added for the optional branches. Instruction was mostly given in German, (or Italian in Lombardy and Venice,) and with the new text-books that followed, the connection between the gymnasium and the philosophical course was wholly severed, and the latter burdened with an amount of mathematics and philosophy for which the lower classes gave no preparation. By this a restriction was laid upon the number of students preparing for the universities, more effectual than all previous ordinances, though other less prominent measures had a tendency to the same result. Not more than forty per cent., upon an average, of those who entered the philosophical course completed the second year's studies. There were, indeed, institutions that were less strict, but their reputation was low, and the discipline exceedingly loose. But even in the better institutions, discipline was more or less defective, and only personal influence or despotic severity on the part of individual teachers could govern the unruly crowds of the lecture hall.

This condition of things was sufficient, even under the political restraints of that day, to arouse a number of the friends of education to an earnest struggle against it. The most noteworthy of the articles published by these men in 1828 were those of Professors Baumgartner, Ettinghausen, and Ficker, complaining of the compression of the entire study of geometry and physics into three semesters of the philosophical course, of the subordinate position of Latin philology and complete neglect of Greek philology, and of the degraded position of natural and general history. The government, indeed, had never had very strong confidence in the continuance of the new plan of philosophical study, which had been approved at first for only four years, but though these opposing views were received and listened to by the still existing Reform Board, yet no action was ever taken upon them. It was not until 1837, the third year of the reign of Ferdinand I., that Hallaschka, then superintendent of philosophical studies, could again broach the question of reform. He urged the re-establishment of the three years' course, at least in the higher institutions, and, in general, a return as far as possible to the plan abandoned in 1824, but still retaining German (and Italian in Lombardy and Venice,) as the language of instruction. This was not wholly without result. In 1838, an examination was made into the condition of the gymnasiums, and an expression of opinion as to their improvement was required from all the gymnasial and philosophical directors, prior to any change in the philosophical studies. The opinion in favor of a thorough reform was unanimous, the chief defects being that attention was principally given to the Latin grammar and too little to the means of higher training to be found in a more comprehensive reading of the classics, that the speaking and writing of this language were taught very inefficiently, that the limitation of Greek merely to the grammar made it very distasteful to the pupils, that the instruction in mathematics laid no sufficient basis for the requirements of the first philosophical year, that more stress was laid throughout upon memorizing than upon mental apprehension, and that success was made yet more difficult by the want of any institution for the special training of teachers, by the deficiencies of the old textbooks, and by the over-crowding of the classes.

These views and the accompanying plans of reform were submitted to an able commission appointed in 1841, whose report, in which many of the proposed changes were approved, was received and for the most part accepted by the State Board of Education, but still no measures were taken for carrying them into execution. In 1844, the same commission were called upon for a second expression of their views, who in reply reiterated and defended their former positions. This report, however, gave rise to a discussion of the expediency of a general introduction of the department system of teachers, and induced an inquiry in reply to which three professors of the Vienna and as many of the Prague philosophical department gave an essentially unanimous opinion in its favor. The Board of Education in 1845 fully approved the report of the commission, but limited its action to a reduction of the weekly lessons to eighteen, seven of which were given to Latin, two each to religion, mathematics and German, two to geography and history, one to physics, and two in the four higher classes to Greek. A second commission had at the same time been appointed for the revision of the plan of philosophical study, who adopted essentially the proposition already made in 1837, going back to the system that had been laid aside in 1824, but insisting more decidedly than that had done upon the close connection that should exist between the obligatory philosophical course and the gymnasial studies. The necessity for reform found expression finally also in the press, even under the restrictions of the censorship. But the various projects thus advanced from all sides remained without result till in Octo

ber, 1847, the distinction of three upper and three lower gymnasial classes was generally allowed, as well as the drawing up of new rules of discipline, and by way of trial the introduction of the reformed plan of gymnasial study, (but with class teachers and a department teacher of mathematics and physics,) was permitted for six years in Vienna, Prague, Lemberg, and Milan. The political revolution of the following year was more radical and more prompt in its operation.

There were at this time in the Empire (not including Lombardy and Venice,) philosophical classes at six universities, five lyceums, and fifteen philosophical schools. The number of gymnasiums was eighty-three. The number of students attending the gymnasiums was 19,657 in 1828, 18,567 in 1838, and 21,612 in 1847, among whom are included 1,597 private pupils. In the same year the number of students pursuing the obligatory philosophical course was approximately 4,770. In Lombardy and Venice, besides the fourteen imperial gymnasiums, there were thirteen communal, twenty-two episcopal, seven “convicte," and eight private gymnasiums, three gymnasial institutes, and twenty-one gymnasial schools. Only the first two classes can be considered as wholly and the next two as partially public institutions, and hence of the 15,540 pupils, 4,426 were private scholars. So the philosophical schools were divided into twelve public, twenty-one episcopal, sixteen convent, and twenty-six private institutions, the pupils in the public and episcopal schools numbering 3,276.

The results of gymnasial instruction up to this time have already been suffiicently indicated, their strongest condemnation being found in the pleas for reform continually urged by the highest educational authorities. In the political revolution that now occurred, rejuvenated Austria found no branch of public instruction so ripe and ready for successful re-organization as the gymnasiums. Feuchtersleben, in his “Outlines of a System of Public Instruction," laid down as the object of the gymnasium an advanced general education, using as a principal means the ancient lan. guages and their literature, annexing to it the philosophical course, and for this purpose making the number of classes eight. The distinction of the upper and lower gymnasiums he based upon the essential difference of instruction in each, giving class teachers to the one and department teachers to the other. The subjects of instruction he made nearly the same as had been settled upon in the previous discussions and reports.

But the most efficient agent in the re-organization of the intermediate schools was Exner, ministerial councilor. Acting when revolution and rapid change were the order of the day, the incorporation of the philosophical course into the gymnasiums located wherever philosophical classes had previously existed, was decreed in August, 1848. The addition of similar classes to other gymnasiums was left to the choice of the communities, but instruction in German and in natural history was introduced into all gymnasiums. This change began with the school year in 1849. The bestowal of the professorship of philology at Vienna upon Hermann Bonitz, brought to Exner's aid one who united unwonted acuteness and genius for systematizing with an intimate knowledge of the intermediate schools and their wants. From their united exertions sprang the “Plan for the organization of the gymnasiums and real schools of Austria," which was published by the Ministry of Instruction, 16th Sept. 1849. It is necessary here only to indicate the essential points of the reform thus inaugurated. The philosophical course was separated entirely from the higher department and united with the humanity classes to form the “upper gymnasium,” 'from which the “lower gymnasium” was distinct in gradation, serving as a preparatory department in all branches. The gymnasium should afford all the means necessary for attaining a general advanced education, combining thorough mathematics and scientific instruction with philological training and the study of history, the main difficulty being to unite harmoniously the instruction in all the different branches. The board of teachers was made the primary organ of administration; the director, taking the place of the former local director, vice-director, and prefect, became responsible for the uniformity and firmness of the management, and also took part in instruction. A medium was devised between the systems of class and department teachers, by dividing the branches of study into groups in the examination for teacherships, creating the class “ordinarius ” as the center of union of each class, and having a classification of the scholars under each study, as well as a general class gradation. Competitive examinations for teacherships were abolished. The hours of study were from twenty-two to twenty-six in a week. The purposeless reading of poor Latin, and the previous waste of time upon poetry and rhetoric, gave place as far as possible to the extended reading of classic authors, while more time was given to Greek, and the claims of the German and of the several provincial languages received full consideration. The study of geography was mostly united with that of history, which was both biographical and chronological in its character. Metaphysics and moral philosophy were deemed suited only to a riper age and the fuller preparation of the university. In the discipline all pupils were upon a common footing, the higher classes holding a different position only as far as would naturally follow from their more advanced age. The eight years' course was closed by a "maturity examination," which was made essential to admission to the universities, and aside from the requirement of this examination the State renounced control of every kind over private instruction in the gymnasial branches.

The energy with which this plan was carried into speedy operation eminently due to Count Thun, who entered upon this service with an especial predilection, while remarkable efficiency was also shown by the provincial authorities. In 1850, the philosophical classes that had hitherto existed at the universities, lyceums, and philosophical schools, were wholly merged in the gymnasiums, and communities, corporations, and

« PreviousContinue »