The Immanuel Kant quote in the German original: Aufklärung ist der Ausgang des Menschen aus seiner selbstverschuldeten Unmündigkeit. Unmündigkeit ist das Unvermögen, sich seines Verstandes ohne Leitung eines anderen zu bedienen. Selbstverschuldet ist diese Unmündigkeit, wenn die Ursache derselben nicht am Mangel des Verstandes, sondern der Entschließung und des Muthes liegt, sich seiner ohne Leitung eines anderen zu bedienen. Sapere aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen! ist also der Wahlspruch der Aufklärung.
German blogger der Waidler had an excellent article yesterday that links the lack of education, of actual skill sets to the widespread social justice warrior psycho complex. His piece has a number of other points, but for the purpose of this article I just want to thank him that he tries to bring the education debate to German speakers.
There is a myth in Germany that our education system were much superior to every other system in the world. Sad enough there is much to be said in support of this. However, the margin is thinner than claimed and the strength is in the weakness of the competition. To run down some:
By and large Asian education is rote learning that keeps the kids from thinking. Multiple cults and other authoritarians use rote learning to create a conformist mindset. This is what you see from Scientology, Catholic Pius Brethren and, yes, the entirety of the Asian continent.
Africa follows either the Asian tradition or lacks formal learning entirely. Either students are hell-bent to waste their time memorizing the Quran or whatever is fancy or they work in the fields.
Latin America. I am too uneducated to tell. More about that later.
North America. The public schools are completely absurd. A lot of teachers are crypto-Marxists. If you want your kids to learn that Muslims invented everything from astronomy to “algorithms,” that “capitalism” killed everybody who was not killed in the name of socialism or that genocidal Europeans murdered the majority of Native Americans (and not the epidemics), then you better send them to a school in Canada or the US.
I skip European countries outside Germany who have various different systems and show a complex picture. Against this backdrop Germany does not look bad. But the German belief in the superiority of their education system follows the lead of their belief in having a superior media. There is nothing Germans think could be superior in other countries and the thing they praise themselves most often for is their humbleness. Only these inferior countries who are nationalist and patriotic think that they are better at something than others. Because Germans are better than them they, the masters of modesty, snub them for it.
The problem is that our education might be better than the education in other countries, but it hardly matters by the rate of its decline. Compared to previous times we see a tremendous degeneration. German universities used to be the best in the world at the beginning of the 20th century. More than half of the population is now going to university usually ending up with valueless degrees. The elite won’t touch this topic because the inflation of degrees falsely indicates a higher education and offers more legitimacy of the ruling classes (liberals always point to their supposedly more educated voters). “The world becomes more complex” is a weird mantra often heard. On the one hand it demands more time in schools, on the other hand it is also designed to discouraging citizens from taking part in debates.
But why does the left want people to stick around in schools for so long while keeping them away from gathering relevant information and learning tangible skills?
While public schools in North America are ahead of the curve when it comes to making education an indoctrination circus, Germany follows swiftly. There is not one social woe that is not habitually answered with the suggestion to heal it through “education.”
Germans learn and study forever and it stands to ask at what point the entire economy will crash under the weight of business grads and multiple language doers (what are they doing?). There is a sizable academic proletariat now and the discussion can only be muted by nixing the tuition. The stress and outcry in the Anglo-Saxon world over the debt and pointlessness of the whole debacle is hidden behind the wall of German arrogance (*cough* modesty): Anglo-Saxons do it wrong anyway.
There are studies in the US that prove that public schools in America are doing worse than home schooling. You read that correctly. You are more likely to pass the tests for university admission if you don’t go to school at all. I suspect that the situation in Germany is not as dire, but I daresay that it might not be far from it. One of the ills that might also be one of the seeds of socialism is the mandatory school system which was introduced to Prussia by Frederick the Great. As a starter, while your aim is to combat illiteracy, this was an understandable measure. But the education became ever more bloated and is no longer agile enough to keep up with newer technological developments.
Imagine there were no school boards, no common core curricula … (I don’t fault you for the John Lennon jingle in your ear). Imagine not a board of bigwigs decided what your kids should learn. Imagine it were your town or your borough that would completely finance, budget and run your schools. Imagine the schools could hire teachers on the basis of skills rather than “pedagogic” training, and choose whoever the hell they want. Would parents turn up at townhall meetings and demand more music lessons, more social instruction/politics classes, more Marx, more reading of literature, more art and more religious instruction? I would bet that sooner or later parents would demand chemistry, software engineering, mathematics, and other tangible skills be taught and rubbish be weeded out. I am also pretty sure that even with a tiny budget, they would get it.
But aren’t there already private schools anyway? Yes, but they are tailored to the demands of leftist snobbish upper-middle class parents who try to teach French and the basics of vegan dieting to three-year olds. It is no wonder that they are ridiculous. Still, even these overpriced places often do better than standard public schools.
Nonetheless, there is one lesson that a society needs to teach its children. This one thing is the successes and failures of our history. I try again and again to write articles about our past, feverishly uncovering what was and what wasn’t, and I must admit that I’m completely shocked about the deficiency of my own education. My knowledge of the most relevant part of history, namely how the values of the Western World formed, is spurious at best. In school, I found the Magna Carta, the cornerstone on which our modern political system is built, only mentioned in a text-book for the English language class. It was not even mentioned in the history books. Whatever you have to say about American education, I think it was never so bad that pupils wouldn’t even know about the Magna Carta.
For those who don’t know. The Magna Carta embodied an earlier text called the Charter of Liberties in which king Henry I ceded powers in exchange of the support of the noble men. It subjects the king under the law. However the ‘rule of law’ remained a dead concept until the Magna Carta in 1215. What led to its dominance and the evolution of our system which was built upon the Great Charter lies in the darkness of my weak education. The Magna Carta was rewritten over time again and again and read in the parliament every year to bind all parties to what we would now call a constitution.
Instead I was taught faux history. There were fuzzy terms like “enlightenment” and “humanism” and I fail to grasp them. To modify a quote from Socrates, the more I know about it the less I understand. What did Voltaire, Rousseau, and other cherished philosophers actually bring to the table and who was inspired to do what because of them? I’m not completely uneducated, I can give credit to folks like John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Hobbes and others. But the role of the French dwarfs more and more the longer I think about it and I feel that the only reason why we have to worship these French enlightenment people is because of our military loss against Napoleon Bonaparte. What is more, the French Revolution was presented in history books as if they had all kind of concepts bestowed on them by (the absence of ?!?) G-d. But the Revolution did not give birth to democracy, it gave birth to the Jacobins, the intellectual forerunners of today’s political left.
I’m not the only one who has these giant gaps in education. To start a debate we should be able to admit it.