Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/307

This page has been validated.

cember, 1879, Professor Droysen, of the University of Berlin, moved that the faculty of that institution request the Government to reconsider its policy in regard to the admission of real-school students to the philosophical faculty. After some discussion, Professor Hübner, the dean of the faculty, was requested to ask the various professors for statements of their experience with the two classes of students. These statements were laid before the faculty, and the most important being incorporated in the form of a report, were sent in, March, 1880, to the Government, with the petition that the latter would reconsider the whole matter—the real object of the report being to move the Government to rescind the order of December 7, 1870. These were not the first statements on the question, for the Minister of Public Instruction had already, a short time before, made inquiries of many leading professors in the various universities as to their experience in the matter since 1871. The most of them held views similar to those of the Berlin professors. The set of statements, with the petition above referred to, constitutes the "Berlin Report," and, on account of its formal and authoritative character, has excited world-wide attention and discussion.

These reports are now quoted by many as a final settlement of the much-disputed question between the "classicists" and the "modernists," and by many more as expressing the judgment of educated Germany, at least, on the subject. Thus, President Porter, in the article above mentioned says: "The question of the superiority of a classical to a modern training has of late been subjected to a practical trial on an extensive scale, by a comparison of the results of the gymnasial curriculum and that of the Realschule, as a preparation for a university course and indirectly for civil administration. In most of the German states—in Prussia pre-eminently—an attendance upon the university course, with a certificate of fidelity and a succession of satisfactory examinations, had been the essential prerequisites to many of the most desirable official positions in civil life. To admission to all the privileges of the university an attendance upon the gymnasium with the classical curriculum was an essential prerequisite, carrying with it the consequence that to all the higher posts of civil life a course of classical study, including Greek and Latin, had till recently been a conditio sine qua non. The Realschulen, which gave a shorter and a more scientific and popular course, in which Greek was not included, and the Latin was scanty, furnish an example of a modernist education. It was very natural that this condition of things should be felt to be inequitable by the teachers and pupils of these schools, and that an earnest movement should be made to set it aside. In several of the states it was successful. In Prussia, against strong conviction to the contrary, it was allowed for a term of years by way of experiment, that the 'modernists' (the Abiturienten der Realschulen) should enter the university and enjoy all its privileges. When this