Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/614

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There is still much distrust of this apparently very reasonable procedure. Every one feels that the momentous decision of the character of the education ought to be made at an age when the individual differences show more clearly than in the first years of school life, but the friends of the traditional Gymnasium are still convinced that a thorough classical training in accordance with the old German ideals ought to shape the mind of the youth in the characteristic way from a tender age. There the German school men still stand in the midst of passionate discussions.

But the intense pedagogical forward movement of the German people must not be studied only in the programs of the official schools. After all they represent the conservative aspect. The most progressive changes which would upset the traditions altogether are expressed in private institutions, usually the creations of enthusiastic idealists. They feel that there is a deep-lying antagonism between the claims of the official school and hundreds of thousands of hopes. Undoubtedly a large part of the nation is convinced that the whole school system is antiquated and too little adjusted to the needs of the new Germany. The schools still carry with them too much of that Germany which lived and thought but which was politically powerless and in the practical world helpless. The new German who does not look into the clouds but prefers to stand with both feet firm on the ground wants knowledge of natural science instead of languages, wants development toward national patriotism instead of religion in school, and wants civics instead of archeology. The center of it all is the firm demand that the youth be prepared for the national life with its social demands and its realistic energies. The character is to be developed still more than the intellect, and the mind is to be schooled for a time which overstrains a man unless he is trained for concentration. Of course much superficiality and pedagogical amateurishness are in play there. Especially the educational value of the natural sciences is still a very doubtful claim in the eyes of those who have really watched the outcome. But in this point too the serious reformers propose a fundamental change. They say that natural sciences are indeed without fundamental significance for the mind of the youth if the instruction means only a heaping up of information. In these days of rapid naturalistic progress the temptation is always great to bring the boy in contact with as many fields of positive knowledge as possible. But there is too much kaleidoscopic unrest in this superficial excitement of the intellect to bring any lasting gain. The new leaders therefore wish that knowledge be considered as unimportant and that the mastery of method and of naturalistic thinking alone be emphasized. The boys are to learn how to learn from nature. And in a corresponding way these groups of reformers wish to change the teaching of history. The children are not