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Thank you Germany: Part 023: Education as a German principle


The word education only exists in German. And yet the word is known all over the world. The special designation denotes more than just what is understood by the English word education, for example. Education always means a very personal appropriation of the world. This appropriation is shaped according to individual interests and attempts to acquire as many aspects of the world as possible. Classically, education was also associated with travel.

Not only should people appropriate their own culture, but they should also get to know other people’s views with different perspectives on the world. Few countries place such a demanding thought on education. Moreover, this kind of education strengthens the individual’s subjective appropriation of the world. Names like Wilhelm von Humboldt are often associated with the spirit of such a classical education. Germany is admired throughout the world for this aspiration. And without any doubt, the German principle of education is a very special reason to love Germany. Many schools around the world have also written the principle into their school programmes. It is not unusual for German schools to be visited by teachers from other countries. They observe how education can be implemented.

Yet school is only one form of acquiring education. Especially in the field of culture, there are many other ways of learning. With its good cultural policy, the German state supports educational opportunities and educational seminars and thus strengthens the right to education. In Germany, as well as internationally, it is now assumed that education is a human right. Some grant this human right to education only through the opportunity to attend school. Other countries, such as Germany, link demanding concepts to the human right.

In any case, one should be proud of these concepts, even if reality does not always keep what the theory promises. There are always disputes about the best possible implementation of education. In addition to the mainstream school system, there are also a number of reform school projects in Germany. In these, schools try to offer children greater freedom for independent acquisition of knowledge and individual education.

The word education, with its great aspirations, will certainly continue to stimulate minds and spark discussions about the best possible support for individual appropriation of culture for many centuries to come. This is possibly a good thing. Discussions are always a source of renewal, with which educational processes are adapted to the current times. Both the material that is learned in school has changed, and the learning itself is constantly taking on new forms.

Incidentally, many suggestions from particularly good school systems come from Germany. Finland, for example, performed particularly well in PISA, a survey of school performance. Politicians found the model for the Finnish school system in the school system of the former GDR. This part of Germany also provided important ideas and impulses for the present. In Finland, pupils learn very independently and prepare their own timetable in comprehensive school. There is as much emphasis on meaningful self-assessment as on very personal motivations and interests.

Last updated on 6. February 2023

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