Education and Society in Germany

By H. J. Hahn | Go to book overview

7
Education in the Former GDR: Socialist
Education in Theory and Practice

Introduction

Various comments made in Chapter 6 apply equally here, in that we are presented with the situation in reverse, whereby research into education in the GDR all too often resolved itself into a comparison with the FRG. Any account or discussion of the system inevitably contained a great deal of ideology, even propaganda, and analysis of its nature often proved partisan and one-sided. With the collapse of the GDR, every aspect of its workings and institutions again came under the microscope of ideological analysis, making a reasoned assessment even more difficult.

On re-reading official reports or studies on East Germany's education system, it is difficult to overlook the often hollow tone of socialist self-satisfaction or the anti-Western venom, expressed in comparisons of socialist achievement with perceived capitalist failure. Such biased accounts present an unclear picture and all too easily lead to over-simplification. 1The history and structure of the GDR education system have been analysed by many West German and British scholars, particularly in the monographs of Anweiler and Waterkamp. 2 However, discussion here will focus less on the structural and historical facets of the system, including instead some actual class-room material, an approach which adds a new dimension to the debate on the GDR's education system and, at the same time, redresses the balance of some previous, all too partisan, accounts.


The Basic Principles of the Socialist Education System

Any study of the development of the socialist education system as practised in the GDR must begin with the ideological aims which such a system is designed to fulfil. The introduction of reforms in the Soviet Zone, prior to their systematic incorporation into a framework of socialist pedagogics, has been covered in Chapter 5. Central to this socialist education ideology was the 'allseitige Entwicklung der sozialistischen Persönlichkeit' 3 (all-round development of the socialist personality), an aim which could be achieved only by a dialectic process defining the socialist personality as both factor and goal in such a development. This all-round

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Education and Society in Germany
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Figures vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes xi
  • 1 - The German Concept of Bildung 1
  • Notes 18
  • Textual Studies 21
  • 2 - A Period of Transition: from the Formation of the Empire to the First World War 26
  • Notes 42
  • Textual Studies 44
  • 3 - The Weimar Republic: Reform and Reaction 50
  • Notes 63
  • Textual Studies 65
  • 4 - Education and Ideology Under National Socialism 71
  • Notes 84
  • Textual Studies 86
  • 5 - Re-Education After 1945 91
  • Notes 105
  • Textual Studies 108
  • 6 - The Education System of the Federal Republic 1949-1989: the Reluctant Process of Modernization 113
  • Notes 130
  • Textual Studies 133
  • 7 - Education in the Former Gdr: Socialist Education in Theory and Practice 137
  • Notes 153
  • Textual Studies 155
  • 8 - Trends in Education and Society Since Unification 159
  • Notes 176
  • Textual Studies 179
  • Select Bibliography 183
  • Index 188
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