1949-1989: The Reluctant Process of
The ground rules in education were fairly well established by the time the Federal Republic came into being in 1949. Central government had little influence over education and was more concerned with creating an affluent society than with modernizing an education system which still seemed adequate to guarantee economic growth.
Research into the educational policies of the Federal Republic has all too often been restricted to comparisons with the GDR. Whilst such comparisons are perfectly justifiable and yield many interesting insights, with both systems sharing a common history, culture and language, they have occasionally led to generalizations or, by too great an emphasis on change, have depicted the West German education system in an unflattering light. While the socialist East saw education as essential to its comprehensive social reform programme, based on an ideological agenda, the West sought to re-establish a pre-fascist, mainstream capitalist society, cushioned from radical exploitation by its social-market economy. A return to the education policies of the Weimar period seemed both consistent and defensible, in line with the general conservative policy of 'no experiments'. 1 A comparison of the Federal Republic's education policy with Western capitalist models will certainly illustrate that, though somewhat old-fashioned, it did not appear to lag quite as far behind as comparisons with the GDR might suggest.
The first section of this chapter surveys the constitutional framework, emphasizing early developments, concentrating on the co-operation between federal and Land governments, and seeking to discover how far this framework helped or hindered the reform programme. A second section discusses the reform programme of the 1960s and early 1970s, exploring the question of whether these reforms were part of a wider, Western concept of reform and social modemization, originating in the United States, and to what extent the political constellation in Bonn at that time facilitated such a reform programme. In an attempt to produce