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Reprinted from FIDELIO Magazine, Vol . VII No.1 , Spring, 1999
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Helga Zepp LaRouche, founder of the Schiller Institute, delivered this address to the Education Policy Conference of the Civil Rights Movement-Solidarity in Duisburg, Germany, on June 6, 1998.
Allow me to begin with a current report from the United States. In American cities, you now see bumper stickers everywhere that read: "Shoot the kids, before they shoot you!"
Of course, that's a polemical exaggeration; however, the truth is: In cities like Washington or Los Angeles, there are three murders committed per day, ever more frequently by young people, who, lacking even the sense to get out of the way of an oncoming car, just shoot someone.
That we in Germany are not very far behind this, becomes clear from various government reports, and last, but not least, from an editorial in Die Zeit from November 16, in which Mrs. Dönhoff lists a shocking number of examples: A fifteen-year-old girl took revenge on her thirteen-year-old friend in a fatal stabbing; a fourteen-year-old boy strangled and robbed both his own grandmother and an uncle; youth are extorted by classmates (out of desperation, one of the victims threw himself in front of an oncoming train). There is no doubt, that the number of such virtually incomprehensible occurrences involving atrocious acts, is appallingly increasing among young people in Germany, too.
For this reason, I would like to speak on the subject of the catastrophe of education in Germany. Not in the narrowly conceived framework of policy debates on education and structural aspects of the last decades; but, I would like to examine the question of the catastrophe in education from the standpoint of the crisis of civilization, which the entire world actually finds itself in. The calamity in education is expressed by various symptoms: the already-cited tendency for violence among young people; Germany's decline in international standing for academic achievement; the lack of young talent in the branches of the natural sciences; the complaints of industry and trades about the under-qualification of graduates; the frightening moral indifference of many of our youthan emotional brutalization, and, at the same time, impoverishment, which allows them to find their identity only in the structure of a gang.
You can continue to list these phenomena, but I believe that they all have a common point of reference: They are all medium- and long-term results of the change in values that has seized not only Germany and Europe, but also America, Japan, and to some extent, even the developing nations, over the past thirty years.
Most people are not really aware of this paradigm shift, since, as you know, "the devil creeps up with small steps." If, today, you asked one of your fellow citizens, how he thought back in the 1960's, most people wouldn't recognize themselves. Here, in Germany, hardly anything remains of the values which were characteristic of the era of Adenauer, de Gaulle, or Kennedy. The change of values has occurred on different levels; for instance, in the area of the economic and financial system, where thirty years of neo-liberal decisions are directly responsible for the global systemic crisis we are experiencing today.
Meanwhile, the second round of the Asia crisis has already begun, which has brought Japan to the brink of a depression. Indonesia faces national bankruptcy; its economy has been brought to its knees; the hunger emergencies mount. In South Korea, the bottom has fallen out of the economy. In Thailand, the small measure of prosperity, which had been achieved there over the last decade, is absolutely destroyed. And, in the meantime, Russia is also facing national bankruptcy. The second round of the financial crisis has now reached Ibero-America. Mexico faces absolutely dramatic plundering; likewise, Brazil. And all of this will hit Europe and the United States in no time at all.
According to my thesis, all the wrong decisions of recent years in the economic and financial policy arena were, in the final analysis, appropriated from a contrary culturethe effect of a cultural shift, which has also led to the present disaster in education. The current worldwide crisis of the financial systemwhich, as some experts believe, will very soon make the Depression of the 1930's look like a joketraces back, in my view, to the same cultural roots, as those that have thrown our education system off of its hinges.
This paradigm shift began with a conscious decision on the part of the Western financial elite, in cooperation with circles from the former Soviet Union, to change the values of society. In the domain of education in 1963, the founder of the Club of Rome, Dr. Alexander King (then, Commissioner for the O.E.C.D. in Paris), had proposed an education reform for the O.E.C.D. nations, and this original report was an absolutely unheard-of attack on what still remained of the Humboldt education system in the post-war period. In King's study, everything was discussed in a Nietzschean sense: that we must throw the "educational dead weight" of the last 2,500 years out the window. This campaign, launched by the O.E.C.D., was then carried out in Germany in the 1970's in the wake of the Brandt education reforms.
A second essential point which was introduced at that timeand people shouldn't think that it was an "organic" demand of the peoplewas the so-called rock-drug-sex counterculture. With enormous publicity and expenditures of money, rock groups were systematically built up; the drug trade was progressively expanded; and the so-called "sexual revolution" was manufactured after that, to undermine the foundations of Christian-humanist culture.
In this climate, the phenomenon of the '68 revolt occurred. I don't want at allin case there are some old leftists or former leftists sitting in the audienceto debate here the pure doctrine of the '68'ers, or any tendency within this movement; I merely want to describe the phenomenon of the '68 generation, and its march through the institutions as a whole. There is, I believe, no area of social life which has been touched, or has been changed, more strongly by the ideas of '68, than precisely the sphere of education.
Out of the Frankfurt School came the intellectual fathers of '68people like Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse (who otherwise worked for the OSS, the forerunner organization of the C.I.A. during World War II). These people, Marcuse in particular, inspired the students' revolt; for example, their thesis that modern industrial society had to produce people of poverty-stricken circumstances of life, which can be read in the powerlessness of the individual human being in the face of mass organizations; in the emphasis on achievement and performance-orientation; in the individual becoming boxed in by the material constraints of one job in the division of labor; in becoming the victim of an anonymous bureaucracy; in the moral bankruptcy of only judging gainful activity by the increase of wealth; and so forth.
If one looks at these theses from the current standpoint, it is perfectly clear that the '68 revolt was directed primarily against the values of the reconstruction period which made it possible for Germany to be rebuilt from a rubble-field: the idea of achievement; industry, economic growth, scientific and technological progess; cultural improvement; an education which encourages outstanding achievement. All these values were demonized, by asserting that all this was only a capitalist experiment, to implement the "achievement society," and that people would have to find some way out of this predicament.
One of the favorite themes of '68 was so-called "liberation schooling," since it was understood that, to put these ideas into effect, you would have to start with the children, young people, and the schools. The chief purpose was to deprive children of the influence of older people; deprive the children of any tradition; to "liberate" them from all traditional standards and moral conventions. This has now continued for thirty yearsnot without consequences.
The result was an almost complete loss of values. Academic achievement criteria were dismissed as "capitalist utilitarianism," advanced industrial society was written off as a system of coercion that would do violence to true human nature. The logical consequence of this was the slogan, "Trash what is trashing you!" ("Macht kaputt, was euch kaputt macht!") That's precisely what happened, and the violence of our young people two generations later, is the result of this anti-authoritarian education.
At the same time, another change occurred, namely, the demonization of scientific and technological progress, through such oligarchic institutions as the Club of Rome and the infamous M.I.T. study of the Limits to Growth, which were an essential instrument in establishing the Green movement. The '68 student revolt, S.D.S., the New Left, were turned upside down, and became the Green movement. The completely unscientific thesis was laid down, that up to approximately 1972, the world was still developing, but now an end of natural resources could be foreseen, and therefore, from now on an equilibrium would have to be established through zero growth. Energy would have to be conserved, and population reduced.
Even the authors of Limits to Growth, Meadows and Forrester, subsequently admitted that their computer study had been programmed to reach this desired conclusion. From the outset, their chief error was the assertion that resources, which are developed by scientific and technological progress, are fixed. With that, a completely artificial debate was generated.
The values of the Green movement gained entry into the textbooks and school curricula. At the same time, in the 1970's, there were various "humanistic," or not-so-humanistic, sponsors, who distributed ecology-promoting games in the schools (Shell Oil was one of them). The result was the "I don't care" generation of the 1980's. In a world which is ostensibly limited anyhow, where everything is already known, where there is nothing new or additional to discover, in such a world, it is also natural that the motivation of youth to learn something, or to study, or to do anything inspired, will be lost.
The next generation was today's techno-generation, which has made itself heard with unbelievable decibels at the "Love Parade" in Berlin. These young people will probably have serious hearing problems, or even be deaf by the time they turn thirty. The multiplication of violent rock videos is breathtaking, and, on the whole, virtual reality dominates. The question of where the video performance stops and where reality begins is ever more skewed.
I have just read a speech by Dr. Annette Schavan, the Minister of Education in Baden-Württemberg, which has a few very interesting ideas, and advocates a return to the old Classical secondary school curriculum. In a speech to the trade schools of Baden-Wüttemberg on March 13 of this year, on so-called "Ethics Day," she quoted from the correspondence between Martin Heidegger and George Picht in the 1960's. Heidegger maintained that the concept of "education to build character" [Bildung] was unsuited to express the essential feature of educational praxis today.
That aroused my interest, because the problem today is that children and young people are still increasingly becoming victims of a creeping, Heidegger-style existentialism. Even the youngest children in school know who Heidegger was (and, possibly, it's even good that this is so). But, after thirty years of the paradigm shift, if young people are cut off from any connection to the history of mankind, well, thenfor example, today there are these techno-freaks or in-line skaters mindlessly dashing through the countryside here, who really represent what Heidegger calls "being thrown" into history. They no longer see themselves as a link in the continuous chain of the history of mankind, but rather only as people who are going "from nothing, to nothing," in Heidegger's sense.
If you asked a student today, what, as far as he is concerned, the main ideas of history are, or what his life means for the generations that have gone beforewhat the meaning of his life isI really believe that most children would not be able to give a real answer to that, since today, in the axioms that form the basis for the educational framework and education policy, neither the idea of the perfection of mankind, nor the prefection of the individual, plays any role. What matters today, is only to satisfy one's personal needs, to realize oneself, to have fun in the here and nowthat is, completely existentialist concerns.
Looking back, one can say that with the phenomenon of the '68'ers, and then, above all, with the beginning of the ecology movement, the turning point in this process was decisively put into place. But also, the subsequent debates in the 1980'sthe so-called "Post-modern" age, which was supposed to mean the end of the "Enlightenment"have contributed to the demise of a pedagogy of progress and optimism.
Let us now leave this panorama, and turn to the ideas which, as an economic scientist, Lyndon LaRouche has presented in many different ways. His principal assertion is, that the history of the last 100,000 years proves that the continued existence of mankind depends on the discovery of physical principles of the universe, and that the capacity to generate such discoveries distinuishes mankind fundamentally from the apes and all other animals. This fundamental distinction between man and animal lies in the cognitive potential of mankind. These cognitive abilities have nothing to do with rote learning, in the sense that animals learn to retrieve, or pets learn to manipulate their masters (becoming, themselves, little masters and mistresses!); cognitive capabilities are something else.
The totality of all archaeological and historical artifacts and records proves that human existence depends upon a progressive mastery over nature, which expresses itself, among other things, in the upward rise of the demographic curve: in the increase of the population per capita and per kilometer over the surface of the Earth. Mankind is the only species which can generate a willful increase of population density, life expectancy, and quality of life. No animal can lay claim to this; the nicest horse, and the most affectionate dog, cannot say, "Now we wish to create living conditions such that our species will mulitiply; such that we will live longer; such that we will have better nourishment and places to live."
The implicit paradox here, is that although such long-term progress has certainly been the characteristic of our species over hundreds of generations, there is no guarantee that, in fact, every theoretical advance will necessarily lead to a corresponding higher level of existence. Whether a scientific discovery, even a valid one, means an improvement or a step backwards, depends upon cultural factors which are just as important as the discovery of a higher physical principle as such. It is cultural factors which determine whether scientific and technological progress are realized in a positive way. Progress is always possible; however, it may not necessarily occur in the form that follows rationally from the standpoint of the physical sciences, and that is always the cause when stagnation recurs despite additional discoveriesor, worse still, demographic and physical regression, and even the collapse of whole civilizations.
In the entirety of the pre-history and recorded history of mankind, there are only a few currents in man's cultural evolution which have not vanished as failed cultures. World history is acquainted with many cultures which have perished, about which we know absolutely nothing, except for a few artifacts, because they were destroyed. This applies to virtually all oligarchic forms of society: The ancient Mesopotamian culture perished, just as that of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and the Aztecs did.
The reason for their destruction lay invariably in the fact that they lacked the moral fitness to survive, and without this moral fitness, stagnation, regression, or even collapse occurred. All these failed cultures or civilizations had a characteristic feature; namely, that always, only about five percent of the population, the oligarchic elite, participated in the culture, no matter how bad it was, while the other ninety-five percent lived in a state of illiteracy, lacking education, addicted to drugs, and so forth, and thus did not participate in the culture at all.
The idea of universal education arose first with the Renaissance of the Fifteenth century and the emergence of the first nation-state, which superseded the imperial form of government, and put in its place a government committed to the common good. This idea was first successfully put into practice afterwards, when, through the work of religious teaching orders such as the Brothers of the Common Life, or, later, the Oratorians in France, a greater portion of the population was included among the educated strata, and played an increasing role in the life of the state.
|Pierre Baudry instructs Schiller Institute Summer Camp Students in the finer points of Geomety.|
Humboldt had a completely clear conception that certain fields of knowledge are better suited than others to convey this beauty of character. The mastery of one's own native tongue ranked first, which can best be studied in the most beautiful examples of poetry in one's own language, in drama, tragedy, and lyric verse. Only if the mind gets into the habit of thinking in metaphors, as these appear in great historical drama or lyric poetry, can one obtain the capacities which are necessary for the creation of new knowledge.
Then, Humboldt said, one needs urgently to study a still more developed foreign languageGreek or Sanskrit, for example, languages with a more highly developed grammarin order to become self-conscious of his own language. And one would absolutely have to know Universal History, since, as Schiller said, only he who understands all the efforts of the many preceding generations, will himself make the effort to enrich these gifts and pass them on to the future. Of course, this requires music, since there is no domain which speaks to the emotions in such a direct way as Classical music; and, in addition, geography and the natural sciences.
Was Humboldt for learning in the sense of "multiple choice"? No. The principle of Classical humanist education, as Humboldt understood it, was the knowledge of a succession of discoveries, as it proceeds from one generation to the next. It will not work for a student to memorize his textbook as if it were articles of religious dogma. Rather, he must re-experience, in his own mind, the original cognitive discovery of a principle, in the same way the discoverer in the physical sciences, or the arts, did.
This rediscovery and re-experiencing corresponds to the sovereign capacity of the individual which constitutes his identity. Moreover, the mediation of culture through Classical humanist education is the active principle of the historical method, and the same holds true for art and science. To deny this quality of education to childrenthat is, not to actually implant them in the long process of scientific creativity and transmission of scientific knowledgeis a violation of the inalienable rights of man, because the first right of a human being is to be able to develop these capacities. Indeed, I would go even further, and maintain that it is a crime against humanity.
In opposition to the assumptions of the Materialists and Empiricists, new physical principles are never inferred from sense-perception; rather, they always occur as cognitive solutions to ontological paradoxesideas in the sense of Plato's dialogues. They are always provable; they are always experimentally demonstrable. In Classical art, the same principle of paradox-solution appears as metaphor, and therefore metaphors are also Platonic ideas.
In the discovery of physical principles, as in the discovery of Classical metaphors, the cognitive process is accompanied by a distinct quality of passion. The emotional energy, the necessary intensity, and the duration of cognitive concentration, is an absolutely crucial element of learning, in the true sense. The passion that the pupil or adult must have to discover a valid scientific principle, or to create a true work of art, is called agape in the Greek of Plato, or as Paul writes of it in the First Epistle to the Corinthians: "And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge ... and have not charity [agape], I am nothing." It is a passion for justice and truth, which is also the basis for social relations. Agape in art, in poetry, tragedy, music, sculpture, paintingall embody precisely these ideas. This notion of scientific and artistic ideas, constitutes the foundation of epistemology; it defines the relationship between human existence and the physical universe.
The discovery of an idea by an individual, and the application of that idea in society, is the characteristic activity which demonstrates man's specific relationship to the entire universe. This process of ideas is an ordered one. There is a progression, a higher degree of effectiveness of these ideas, which then increases the effectiveness of mankind in nature. What is expressed in Genesis as the mission of mankindto populate the Earth, to exert dominion over the birds and the fishes, and to make the Earth subject to himis the law of the Universe in action.
Whence comes this quality of agape? I want to examine this from a different standpoint here, namely, Schiller's reaction to the French Revolution. Schiller, like many patriotic forces in Europe at that time, had hoped that the American War of Independence would also lead to the demise of the oligarchical system of government in Europe, and that it would be possible to carry out revolutions throughout Europe similar to that of America. This was a completely justified hope at the beginning of the French Revolution; but then, when the Jacobin Terror commenced, Schiller was very disappointed, and observed in the famous Aesthetical Letters: "A great moment has found a little people." The moral possibility of seizing the moment of history had been lost.
Especially in the Fifth of his Aesthetical Letters, Schiller refers to the role of Classical art as the necessary agent of moral education. Where should change come from, if the government is corrupt, and the masses are weary and brutalized? I have often read this letter, and I think it is absolutely true today, too.
In these letters, Schiller polemicized against the then-dominant ideology of the Enlightenment: against the ideas of Voltaire, who in works like Candide, slandered Leibniz, or in La Pucelle, dragged Joan of Arc through the mud. Completely conscious of the ideal of a civilized humanity, Schiller set himself to do battle against the ideas of the Enlightenment. Beginning with his Eleventh Aesthetical Letter, he describes how, through the development of the material impulse (Stofftrieb), of the formative impulse (Formtrieb), and, finally, of the play impulse (Spieltrieb), the education of the personality can be shaped into a harmonic whole.
By material instinct, Schiller simply means man's limitless capacity to encompass new things, and he warns against over-hastily forcing what is new into some theoretical straitjacket. He says that in history, at least as much harm may have been caused by hasty attempts to freeze or dam up development in formal academic structures, as by the reverse.
So the material impulsethat is, the capacity of mankind to encompass the entire worldmust be educated. The formative impulse, then, fosters inner coherence, the rendering of ideas and the formation of concepts. Last would be the play impulse, couched between the other two. It is there that man may be completely man; there, where the new originates, where new creative hypotheses are born.
For his entire life, Schiller fought for an education of the personality into a harmonic whole; that is why he composed poetry; it is why he wrote. His highest ideal was the beautiful soul: the person who has educated his emotions to the point that he does with passion, what reason directs. This person can blindly trust his emotions; they will never do something other than what necessity requires, because he has educated his feelings to the very highest level of reason.
That is freedom in necessity, and the only kind of person for whom this holds true, is the individual person of genius, since only the genius extends the laws of nature in a lawful way. It is in order to learn to do this, Schiller saidand Humboldt believedthat the arts were necessary, because the arts or sciences enable the pupil to sustain his cognitive concentration and energy for a sufficient duration for a discovery to be born.
This idea is also found in Nicolaus of Cusa, who already back in the Fifteenth century had insisted that each individual would have to recapitulate the entire history of mankind in its essential pointssince it is only from this that the knowledge needed to determine the next step could arise. Wilhelm von Humboldt said the same thing: Every pupil, every student, should re-enact the most important scientific and artistic principles of human history to date. By means of this repeated experience, the cognitive domain would be trained to a very high degree.
Wilhelm von Humboldt fully agreed with Schiller at that time in the 1780's and 1790's, which he expressed in this way: "The human race stands now at such a stage of culture, that it can soar higher only through the education of the individual. Hence, all institutions that hinder this education, and press people more into a mass, are more harmful today than ever before." Look at the people who live in the virtual reality of videos, and indulge in rock concerts or other forms of mass phenomena. Are they not precisely pressed into mobs?
This is why Schiller so much located the question of education through Classical art as the central focus, since he had an ideal standard for what an artist must be. He insisted that an artist ought to have ennobled himself into an ideal human being, before daring to put himself before the public and stir it up. The artist must speak on a subject which is universal and true. If the same process occurs through the school curriculum, or in life in general, then the creative capabilities of those involved, are educated. Thus, art educates the emotions, which, in turn, determine the choice of ideas.
Humboldt also defines the purpose of education in the following way: "The true purpose of mankindnot what is prescribed by changing tastes, but what is dictated to him by eternal, inalienable reasonis the highest and most balanced education of his powers into a harmonious whole. Because, the mind of the most common day laborer and that of the person of the most refined skills, must be tuned equally, if the former is not to become coarse beneath man's dignity, and the latter not sentimental, fantasy-ridden, or flighty below virile manliness."
And in conclusion, Humboldt says: "There are, in general, certain types of knowledge which must be universal, and, furthermore, a certain education of sentiments and of personal character, which no one should lack. Clearly, a person can be a good craftsman, merchant, soldier, or businessman, only if he is intrinsically a good and upstanding human being and citizen, enlightened according to his station in life, irrespective of his particular profession. Give him the necessary education for that, and then later on, he will quite easily acquire specialized professional skills, and will also obtain the freedom to switch professions, as so often happens in life."
That is, if through education man achieves "the highest and most balanced education of his powers into a harmonious whole," communicated in this way through instruction, then for him, this becomes not dogma, but rather, a quality, a mentality that shapes one, regardless of whatever specialization or specific education he desires to acquire later on.
This is exactly why Germany's President Herzog is wrong in thinking that the Humboldt educational system is obsolete. Herzog said this in a speech on Nov. 5, 1997, in which he otherwise identified education policy as the number one issue of the election campaign. In addition, he made various proposals, a few of which, for once, were not all bad; for example, that all children should learn a foreign language starting from their first year in school, since children, as everybody knows, learn languages quite easily in their early years. I am also completely in favor of exchanging entire classes between different countries for a six-month period.
However, if you otherwise examine this speech by the German President, there is, unfortunately, not very much content in it. Then, at the end, he suggests that none of us knows which concept might lead to success. People should try as many experiments as possible, and the resulting test scores should determine future practice. Now, would you entrust your children as guinea pigs to people who have no notion of what they are doing with them? I think that we have already had sufficient negative examples in the last thirty years!
And finally, Herzog says: Our education system was, at one time, the model for the whole world, but it must be further developed, for, as everyone knows, "the better is enemy of the good."
Now I would like to quote Professor Dr. Rolf Arnold, who in the first volume of the Pedagogical Materials series of the University of Kaiserlautern, accuses Herzog, in my opinion, correctly, of absolving the government of responsibility for the recent decades' education policy, and thus of acting as if the disaster in education had dropped out of the sky. What Herzog says, according to Professor Arnold, "obscures the real cause of the calamity, and presents general platitudes; for example, 'the better is enemy of the good,' and coffee-klatsch advice."
That is exactly the problem. One might believe that all of this results in a completely hopeless situation. However, I can assure you that there will be some massive shock effects in our society in the not-too-distant future. The next shockwaves of the global financial crash are absolutely certain to come; and the one glimmer of hope is, that only after the battle of Jena and Auerstedt in 1806, which was lost through the inferiority of the Prussian military, did the Prussian reformersvom Stein, von Humboldt, Scharnhorst, and Gneisenauencounter a willingness for reforms. Exactly this, I fear, is what will happen today in Germany, too. Only once the foundations of the society have been shaken, will it be possible to return to the ideas of Wilhelm von Humboldt and Schiller. That will only be possible, however, if we prepare ourselves for it beforehand. The catastrophe will come; however, whether the crisis is taken advantage of to put through reforms, depends upon whether we are capable of mobilizing all the positive forces in the nation for it. We must now advance ideas of what Germany, Europe, and, above all, the world, should look like in the Twenty-first century.
Do we want techno-freaks, with their relativistic values, to determine the next century? Or youth gangs, who brutally steal Grandmother's savings to buy themselves drugs, to have the last word? Is that the future we want? Or, do we want to develop a vision, in which Germany has a mission as a nation, in the sense that de Gaulle spoke about France's "Grand Design," when he said that the French were surely not just cows, who merely stand in a pasture chewing their cud? Each nation has a mission in the world, and de Gaulle's idea was that France was supposed to help in overcoming the under-development of the Third World.
Just so, I think a vision for Germany would have to mean that we must play an active role in overcoming the world economic and financial crisis, and in worldwide reconstruction. What at one time distinguished usGerman technology, "made in Germany"can play a positive role in a just new world economic order, and the concrete framework of it must and can only be the building of the Eurasian Land-Bridge as the linchpin of such a reconstruction of the world economy.
If we have such an economic orientation, that, in turn, requires that we educate scientists and engineers; that we have full productive employment, and an economic policy which can pay the cost of a full education. Because, in fact, education is not so expensive; rather, it is the best investment in our economic strength, because, in the final analysis, it is the creative capacities of the individual which alone constitute the source of society's wealth. However, this means, of course, that the education of our children and young people be oriented so that they discover their place in history; so that they know, above all, what history is; so that they learn again what it means to think scientifically, in the sense of creative individuals, great discoverers, and artists.
Imagine Raphael's painting of "The School of Athens," in which Plato and other great thinkers are depicted, and imagine a similar wall painting, in which all the great discoverers, scientists, artists, composers, musicians, and poets of history are found; the pupil who has come to know them all intimately in his lessons, can then say: "And, in this wall painting, you can see my friend Archimedes; he discovered the following. ... Here is my friend Kepler; here is my friend Beethoven! ..." The ideas of these great thinkers are perhaps closer to him than the shouting of his little sister, because he has come to more of an understanding of substance with them. If such a student then learns to say, "Yes, indeed, I am a part of this history; I am a part of mankind; this is my place," then we have won the battle.
Then, we will no longer need a social contract between generations, which is supposed to restrain the younger generation from talking the elderly into active assisted suicide on the grounds of cost; then, we will have a society, where, as Schiller, in his lecture on Universal History says, "a noble desire is enkindled within us, to attach our fleeting existence to the rich legacy of Truth, Morality, and Freedom, which we have been handed down from former ages, and we must again hand over to succeeding generations richly increased, and in this everlasting chain, which winds itself through all human races, also place our own contribution. However varied the careers may be which await you [students] in civil society, you can all bring something to them, because, for each worthy act, a pathway is opened to immortalityto true immortality, I mean, where the deed lives and hastens onward, even if the name of its originator was destined to remain behind."
The question is, which future are we going to shape? Education policy is more than a question of instruction, specialized technical training, of small skills; rather, it concerns how we, as world-historical individuals, intervene in history.
translated by Anita Gallagher
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