Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/553

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CIVILIZATION AND SCIENCE.

dents, indeed, who in later years ever open an ancient author. So far from having any warm love for the classics, most persons regard them with indifference; not a few with aversion. They are remembered only as the instruments by means of which they were made familiar with the rules of grammar, just as the only conception they retain of universal history is that of learning by rote insignificant dates. Was it for this that these youths sat for thirty hours weekly on a school-bench till their eighteenth or twentieth year? Was it for this that they devoted most of their time to studying Greek, Latin, and history? Is this the result for the attainment of which the gymnasium remorselessly englooms the life of the German boy?

In view of this state of things, we ask whether everything is going on aright; whether it is not time, and whether it is not worth our while, to make an effort at reform? Here as elsewhere it is easier, especially for outsiders, to find fault than to determine how to repair the defect. Here, as is so often the case in complicated questions of administration and of human life in general, there are many causes in operation. We take into consideration one, while ten others of no less importance escape unnoticed. Still, though I expose myself to this danger, I will not refrain from expressing my views.

Without meaning any offense to the distinguished men who have taken an active part in organizing our gymnasia, or who are still so engaged, I cannot conceal my conviction that the spirit of the gymnasium does not sufficiently keep pace with the development of the human mind in modern times. As is evident from what has already been said, I am fully alive to the perils with which our intellectual culture is threatened by an excess of realism. At the same time, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that natural science has given a new aspect to human existence. We should be imitating the ostrich in burying its head in the sand were we to deny the mighty revolution described above, and it were a vain and perilous thing to try to stop the rolling wheel of such a process of development. But hitherto the gymnasium has not taken this development sufficiently into account. Despite a few concessions, which are apparent rather than real, it is still what the Reformation made it, when as yet there was no natural science—namely, a learned school essentially designed as a means of preparing for the study of the intellectual sciences.

In this backwardness of the gymnasium and its refusal to comply with the demands of the time lies the strength of the realschule. I do not propose to enter here on the intricate question of the competencies proper to each of these two kinds of institutions. For the rest, I agree with the views of those who desire only one species of higher schools, which should fit their pupils equally for the university, the industrial or architectural academy, the army, etc. Plainly, this would be simply the humanistic gymnasium transformed so as to meet these new requirements. Apart from measures of administration, all that is needed to