On the Future of our Educational Institutions

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 35

can have but one natural
starting-point--an artistic, earnest, and exact familiarity with the
use of the mother-tongue: this, together with the secret of form,
however, one can seldom attain to of one's own accord, almost
everybody requires those great leaders and tutors and must place
himself in their hands. There is, however, no such thing as a
classical education that could grow without this inferred love of
form. Here, where the power of discerning form and barbarity gradually
awakens, there appear the pinions which bear one to the only real home
of culture--ancient Greece. If with the solitary help of those pinions
we sought to reach those far-distant and diamond-studded walls
encircling the stronghold of Hellenism, we should certainly not get
very far; once more, therefore, we need the same leaders and tutors,
our German classical writers, that we may be borne up, too, by the
wing-strokes of their past endeavours--to the land of yearning, to

"Not a suspicion of this possible relationship between our classics
and classical education seems to have pierced the antique walls of
public schools. Philologists seem much more eagerly engaged in
introducing Homer and Sophocles to the young souls of their pupils, in
their own style, calling the result simply by the unchallenged
euphemism: 'classical education.' Let every one's own experience tell
him what he had of Homer and Sophocles at the hands of such eager
teachers. It is in this department that the greatest number of deepest
deceptions occur, and whence misunderstandings are inadvertently
spread. In German public schools I have never yet found a trace of
what might really be called 'classical education,' and there is
nothing surprising in this when one thinks of the way in which these
institutions have emancipated themselves from German classical writers
and the discipline of the German language. Nobody reaches antiquity by
means of a leap into the dark, and yet the whole method of treating
ancient writers in schools, the plain commentating and paraphrasing of
our philological teachers, amounts to nothing more than a leap into
the dark.

"The feeling for classical Hellenism is, as a matter of fact, such an
exceptional outcome of the most energetic fight for culture and
artistic talent that the public school could only have professed to
awaken this feeling owing to a very crude misunderstanding. In what
age? In an age which is led about blindly by the most sensational
desires of the day, and which is not aware of the fact that, once that
feeling for Hellenism is roused, it immediately becomes aggressive and
must express itself by indulging in an incessant war with the
so-called culture of the present.

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