On the Future of our Educational Institutions

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 26

me. We are both acquainted
with public schools; do you think, for instance, that in respect of
these institutions anything may be done by means of honesty and good
and new ideas to abolish the tenacious and antiquated customs now
extant? In this quarter, it seems to me, the battering-rams of an
attacking party will have to meet with no solid wall, but with the
most fatal of stolid and slippery principles. The leader of the
assault has no visible and tangible opponent to crush, but rather a
creature in disguise that can transform itself into a hundred
different shapes and, in each of these, slip out of his grasp, only in
order to reappear and to confound its enemy by cowardly surrenders and
feigned retreats. It was precisely the public schools which drove me
into despair and solitude, simply because I feel that if the struggle
here leads to victory all other educational institutions must give in;
but that, if the reformer be forced to abandon his cause here, he may
as well give up all hope in regard to every other scholastic question.
Therefore, dear master, enlighten me concerning the public schools;
what can we hope for in the way of their abolition or reform?"

"I also hold the question of public schools to be as important as you
do," the philosopher replied. "All other educational institutions must
fix their aims in accordance with those of the public school system;
whatever errors of judgment it may suffer from, they suffer from also,
and if it were ever purified and rejuvenated, they would be purified
and rejuvenated too. The universities can no longer lay claim to this
importance as centres of influence, seeing that, as they now stand,
they are at least, in one important aspect, only a kind of annex to
the public school system, as I shall shortly point out to you. For the
moment, let us consider, together, what to my mind constitutes the
very hopeful struggle of the two possibilities: _either_ that the
motley and evasive spirit of public schools which has hitherto been
fostered, will completely vanish, or that it will have to be
completely purified and rejuvenated. And in order that I may not shock
you with general propositions, let us first try to recall one of those
public school experiences which we have all had, and from which we
have all suffered. Under severe examination what, as a matter of fact,
is the present _system of teaching German_ in public schools?

"I shall first of all tell you what it should be. Everybody speaks and
writes German as thoroughly

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