Courtesy Reuters

Education Under the Nazis

EVERY system of education, besides being embedded in the context of a given civilization, presents certain aspects by which its nature may be judged. Among its outstanding features are the scheme of administration; the body of objectives or principles for controlling instruction; the class-room procedure; the code of rules governing the admission and conduct of students; and the degree of liberty allowed to private institutions.

Administration may be highly centralized as in France; or it may be decentralized as in the United States, where each state, and to some extent each community, manages its own schools and makes its own curriculum. It may be especially concerned with the mechanics of providing equipment; or it may be particularly interested, as in Germany, in regimenting the bodies and thoughts of pupils.

The objectives or controlling principles may be sharply enumerated and defined; or they may be only partly prescribed by law and decree, leaving a wide discretionary power in the hands of teachers and local formulators of curricula. So likewise with class-room procedure. It may range from rigid and exacting drill to an individual freedom bordering on anarchy. It may demand unquestioning obedience and impose fixed dogmas on pupils; or it may permit, even encourage, the presentation of conflicting views, and favor the exploration of opposing conceptions. In other words, the teacher may imitate the drill sergeant or follow the example of Socrates.

The code of rules for the governance of pupils may confine admission and promotion to favored groups, and subject student life to a harsh discipline; or it may open wide all channels of education to talent, irrespective of birth and position, and throw upon maturing pupils a high degree of moral responsibility for their conduct. Private institutions of learning may be encouraged by public policy and granted a wide area of liberty; or they may be subjected to State discipline, perhaps abolished entirely.

It is by studying closely such features of any educational system that we can most firmly grasp

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