On the Future of our Educational Institutions

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 40

long and solemn pause. Both the philosopher and his
companion sat silent, sunk in deep dejection: the peculiarly critical
state of that important educational institution, the German public
school, lay upon their souls like a heavy burden, which one single,
well-meaning individual is not strong enough to remove, and the
multitude, though strong, not well meaning enough.

Our solitary thinkers were perturbed by two facts: by clearly
perceiving on the one hand that what might rightly be called
"classical education" was now only a far-off ideal, a castle in the
air, which could not possibly be built as a reality on the foundations
of our present educational system, and that, on the other hand, what
was now, with customary and unopposed euphemism, pointed to as
"classical education" could only claim the value of a pretentious
illusion, the best effect of which was that the expression "classical
education" still lived on and had not yet lost its pathetic sound.
These two worthy men saw clearly, by the system of instruction in
vogue, that the time was not yet ripe for a higher culture, a culture
founded upon that of the ancients: the neglected state of linguistic
instruction; the forcing of students into learned historical paths,
instead of giving them a practical training; the connection of certain
practices, encouraged in the public schools, with the objectionable
spirit of our journalistic publicity--all these easily perceptible
phenomena of the teaching of German led to the painful certainty that
the most beneficial of those forces which have come down to us from
classical antiquity are not yet known in our public schools: forces
which would train students for the struggle against the barbarism of
the present age, and which will perhaps once more transform the public
schools into the arsenals and workshops of this struggle.

On the other hand, it would seem in the meantime as if the spirit of
antiquity, in its fundamental principles, had already been driven away
from the portals of the public schools, and as if here also the gates
were thrown open as widely as possible to the be-flattered and
pampered type of our present self-styled "German culture." And if the
solitary talkers caught a glimpse of a single ray of hope, it was that
things would have to become still worse, that what was as yet divined
only by the few would soon be clearly perceived by the many, and that
then the time for honest and resolute men for the earnest
consideration of the scope of the education of the masses would not be
far distant.

After a few minutes' silent reflection, the philosopher's companion
turned to him

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I shall be grateful to all those who will be kind enough to show me where and how I have gone wrong; but I should like to point out that, as they stand, I have not given to these Notes by any means their final form.