On the Future of our Educational Institutions

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 29

study of the language,
what is there besides which the German teacher is wont to offer? How
does he reconcile the spirit of his school with the spirit of the
_few_ that Germany can claim who are really cultured,--_i.e._ with the
spirit of its classical poets and artists? This is a dark and thorny
sphere, into which one cannot even bear a light without dread; but
even here we shall conceal nothing from ourselves; for sooner or later
the whole of it will have to be reformed. In the public school, the
repulsive impress of our aesthetic journalism is stamped upon the still
unformed minds of youths. Here, too, the teacher sows the seeds of
that crude and wilful misinterpretation of the classics, which later
on disports itself as art-criticism, and which is nothing but
bumptious barbarity. Here the pupils learn to speak of our unique
_Schiller_ with the superciliousness of prigs; here they are taught to
smile at the noblest and most German of his works--at the Marquis of
Posa, at Max and Thekla--at these smiles German genius becomes
incensed and a worthier posterity will blush.

"The last department in which the German teacher in a public school is
at all active, which is often regarded as his sphere of highest
activity, and is here and there even considered the pinnacle of public
school education, is the so-called _German composition_. Owing to the
very fact that in this department it is almost always the most gifted
pupils who display the greatest eagerness, it ought to have been made
clear how dangerously stimulating, precisely here, the task of the
teacher must be. _German composition_ makes an appeal to the
individual, and the more strongly a pupil is conscious of his various
qualities, the more personally will he do his _German composition_.
This 'personal doing' is urged on with yet an additional fillip in
some public schools by the choice of the subject, the strongest proof
of which is, in my opinion, that even in the lower classes the
non-pedagogic subject is set, by means of which the pupil is led to
give a description of his life and of his development. Now, one has
only to read the titles of the compositions set in a large number of
public schools to be convinced that probably the large majority of
pupils have to suffer their whole lives, through no fault of their
own, owing to this premature demand for personal work--for the unripe
procreation of thoughts. And how often are not all a man's subsequent
literary performances but a sad result of this pedagogic original sin
against the intellect!


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