Education and Society in Germany

By H. J. Hahn | Go to book overview

3
The Weimar Republic: Reform and Reaction

Introduction: The Impact and Progress of 'Modernism'

Chapters 1 and 2 have provided an outline of the traditional German education system, how it developed during a period of neo-classical idealism, and how it was subsequently adapted to cope with the impact of industrialization. By the turn of the century the emerging picture revealed the standard-bearers of neo-classicism in the Gymnasium and the university taking up increasingly more conservative positions, whilst the reformers in the newer schools tried to revive some of the basic objectives of the traditional system, most notably the concept of general education. This traditionalism was in part a result of pressure from above, as the university sector sought to preserve the classics, and in part a desire to provide good-quality general education for social groups which had hitherto been denied the opportunity of all-round character development.

Following the general urbanization and industrialization of Germany at the end of the century, the concept of 'modernity' entered the intellectual debate, a development which coincided with the onset of a general crisis in values. Within the ranks of the mandarin class, which feared that the German concept of culture was under threat, this was reflected in a more pronounced reactionary attitude. In this context, the term 'modernism' is applied in its most wide and value-free sense, referring to those particular issues in education which eventually came to a head during the second half of the twentieth century or which brought the German system into line with recognized modern practice elsewhere. In its broadest, and perhaps even crudest, sense modernism in Germany became politically associated with the republican movement, in particular with social democracy, the anti-clerical movement and women's emancipation. It rejected völkisch and racist trends and, in terms of education policy, sought to extend compulsory schooling, develop a co-educational system, support the more technically orientated schools and broaden access to higher education. It was most firmly rooted in Prussia, the neighbouring states of Thuringia and Saxony, and in the free states of Hamburg and Bremen, whilst Catholic Bavaria remained the least progressive.

In common with other reform programmes, the new Republic's progressive education policy was soon plagued by the serious financial and economic problems

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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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