Who Should Teach in Germany’s Schools—
Nothing impresses a pupil more than the personality of the teacher.
In the complex problem of reincorporating the Germans into international
life this circumstance may be decisive. Every American soldier represents
his nation. The way in which he behaves to his own comrades and the
degree to which he impresses the Germans as a disciplined serviceman
and as a human being will contribute more to the re-education of the
former enemy than the most skillful speeches, movies, and radio addresses.
The former teachers
In reopening the German schools, a negative measure is necessary first. This
is the removal from the schools of all German educators who openly and
consistently helped to bring about the victory of the Nazi party, who
persecuted the children of Jews or of parents with liberal convictions, or who
used their influence in the party for intimidating their colleagues. The very
definition of re-education demands that men and women who stood voluntarily
behind the cruelties of the Nazi regime cannot be entrusted with the upbringing
The removal of convinced and dangerous Nazis
from the schools raises the problem of whether enough teachers will be left for
regular instruction. In all likelihood several hundreds of thousands of
teachers and prospective teachers died on the battlefields.
One of the many disastrous consequences which
Hitler brought upon the Germany he pretended to raise to a new period of
grandeur is that Germany will have a totally unbalanced population, with old
people and children in the great majority. In addition, with approximately 5
million dead and permanently disabled in their armed forces, the numerical
balance between the two sexes will be completely upset.
The consequences are obvious. The relatively small group of men and women of
earning age will have to take care of too many young and old people in a
country full of ruins and insecurity. Several million women will be deprived of
normal fulfillment of their maternal instincts. All this will affect the
schools; and no administrative skill can avoid it.
It is from this surplus of women that the
Four Powers could probably draw a large part of the teaching staff needed for
German re-education. The German schools have been primarily in the hands of
men. Men predominated in boys’ schools clear down to the first grade.
Only kindergarten teachers were women. Even in girls’ schools there were
many male teachers.
The Germans believe that the American
educational system suffers from an excess of women teachers. They have asserted
that the influence of these women has made our children, especially our boys,
too soft and pacifistic. The Nazis derided the influence of the Christian
church as making us too forgiving and too sentimental. If the Germans thought
that women teachers had a softening effect upon our youth, the smashing
victories of our armies must have knocked that idea out of their heads by now.
The situation will force a certain caution
upon the responsible authorities of the Four Powers. They face a dilemma
through the removal from the schools of all teachers tainted with Nazism. Is it
possible to keep the schools going when all teachers who belonged to the Nazi
party are fired? Which evil is the greater: keeping on a considerable number of
teachers who were members of the party or allowing an already mentally twisted
younger generation to run around without guidance, instruction, or purpose?
During the last three years of the war the shortage of teachers prevented any
regular teaching in the rural districts of Germany. The bombing of the cities
and the warfare in Germany itself had the same effect on the urban population.
Already, therefore, the children of Germany are short on formal schooling.
But perhaps there is not so much reason to
worry about. future Nazi influence in the schools. How many teachers, after
all, will want to repeat to the children of the devastated nation all the
pompous phrases of Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, and Rosenberg about the glorious
“Third Reich of Hitler” or the “Thousand Years’
Empire” of German fascism, about the superiority of the German race or the
invincibility of the German army? The once famous slogan “We are grateful
to our Führer” would have a hollow ring in the bomb-scarred
|Under, Hitler, German schools stressed obedience
and Führer worship.
Can foreign teachers be used?
In order to get out of this dilemma some
people have educated the employment of American, British, French, Russian, and
other non-German teachers in German schools.
Before and even during the Hitler regime,
many foreign instructors were employed to teach their own languages in German
schools. There- is no reason why foreign language instructors should not
continue to instruct Germans in other languages now that the war is ended,
provided enough non-German teachers can be found who want to go to Germany.
They might be highly useful not only for teaching French, English, or Russian,
but also as pioneers of intercultural contact. But that is about all they can be
expected to do, and even that only for a very small number of children.
If foreign teachers were to be used for influencing
and controlling German education, thousands of them would have to be imported.
It is more than doubtful that they would be available. In order to teach
children of a foreign nation a teacher must have mastery of their language such
as is generally acquired only with several years of living in the particular
country. The younger the children and the less they and their parents are familiar
with foreign culture, the more a teacher with a foreign accent and inevitable
mistakes in his speech exposes himself to ridicule. A teacher who appears
ridiculous in his pupils’ eyes is useless.
In addition, a foreign teacher might be considered a spy or at least an
unwelcome alien even by those of his German colleagues who would otherwise be
glad to establish international contacts. Such an isolation is, in the long
run, unbearable, especially for the type of person who loves to teach.
For these and other reasons, the mass
importation of teachers from four different nations already short of teachers
at home can hardly be considered seriously.
There are many competent teachers among the
great number of German political and racial exiles who tools refuge from Nazism
in foreign countries. With respect to them the answer is not so easy. They know
the language and the cultural tradition of the people. Their return might be
regarded as a natural result of the changed situation.
However, the record shows that returning emigrants often have lost touch with
their home country., They have not shared the experiences of the most
critical years of its existence. Moreover, Germans in the service of
foreign occupation authorities may be looked upon with even more suspicion
than real foreigners. And lastly, many of the exiled teachers do not
want to go back to Germany.
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