The New International Encyclopædia/Gymnasia

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The New International Encyclopædia
Gymnasia
Edition of 1905. Written by Paul MonroeSee also Gymnasium (school) on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

GYMNASIA (gĭm-nä'zĭ-ȧ) AND REALGYMNASIA, rắ-äl'gĭm-nä'zĭ-ȧ (Lat. nom. pl., from Gk. γυμνάσιον, gymnasion, from γυμνάζειν, gymnazein, to train, from γυμνὀς, gymnos, naked). The classical higher or secondary schools of Germany, graduation from which, until recently, necessarily preceded the university course and all professional careers. The Gymnasia arose in Germany out of the humanistic movement during the sixteenth century. The existing schools were monastic and cathedral under the control of the Church, and guild schools controlled by the guilds or municipalities, but yet taught and dominated by the clergy. Such schools were devoted almost exclusively to the study of Latin, organized into the traditional curriculum, consisting of the trivium (q.v.) grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic, and the quadrivium (q.v.) arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, and music. The study of the quadrivium was of a most superficial character, while that of the trivium was formal, with no appreciation of the spirit of the Latin literature and no devotion to classical ideas. The humanistic movement reached the German States during the last quarter of the fifteenth century, and soon modified not only the culture of the universities, but also the work of the secondary schools. Probably the first schools to respond to the new influences were those of Nuremberg, which were modified in 1485 and again in 1496. It was not till 1521, however, that this movement was complete, and instruction in Greek and Hebrew added, thus constituting a true humanistic school. Meanwhile the Protestant Reformation had begun, and for the time being coincided in its educational aspects with the earlier Renaissance movement. In addition to instruction in classical Latin and Greek, the Reformation influence favored the consolidation of existing schools into stronger centralized ones, or even into complete systems extending over an entire State, and also the placing of these under secular control.

The first Protestant school of the humanistic type was that of Magdeburg, established in 1524. About the same time Melanchthon formulated his ‘school plan’ providing for both Greek and Hebrew, at least for the favored few, and this plan became the basis of most of the Protestant schools of Germany. The first general system of schools which provided for the Gymnasia was that of Saxony, formulated in 1528, but without providing for Greek in such schools until a later date. The Gymnasium most influential as a type was that of Strassburg, founded (or modified) in 1538, under the headship of Johannes Sturm (q.v.). Only of slightly less importance were the Gymnasium of Goldberg under Trotzendorf and that of Ilfeld under Neander. The Protestant movement for the establishment of Gymnasia may be said to have culminated in 1580 with the establishment of the revised school plan of Saxony. From 1540 on, the Jesuit Order established numerous schools that were similar to the Gymnasia in all respects save in their religious instead of secular control. The rivalry between these types of schools, together with the change in the character of the Reformation movement, which eliminated the earlier sympathy shown with humanism, was responsible for the decline in the character of the Gymnasia. Instruction became most formal, little interest was shown in the content of ancient literature, scholasticism was rehabilitated, and the sympathies of the masses were alienated. Such remained the condition throughout the seventeenth century. During the last decade of that century and the earlier part of the eighteenth, the Pietistic movement put new life into education. This change in spirit and motive of education, and the substitution of a more vital interest in the study of classics in place of the existing formalism, culminated in the formation of a new type of school — the Realschule (q.v.), for those who were not destined for the learned professions. The Prussian monarchy exerted throughout the eighteenth century, especially under Frederick the Great, a quickening influence on education. But it was not till the latter part of that century, under the leadership of such men as Herder, Kant, Lessing, Goethe, and Schiller, that there was infused the new humanistic spirit that has characterized the German Gymnasia from that day to this. During the past century, particularly, the needs of an age devoted more to the material than to the ideal, as well as the rapid rise to importance of mathematical and natural science, could not fail of influence or be left without due provision. Yet even now the chief subject of gymnasial teaching is the pursuit of the humanities — i.e. the study of classical antiquity, the two languages of which, Latin and Greek, form the foundation of the teaching and study of the Gymnasia. Still, while retaining this foundation, the strongest efforts are no longer directed, as in former times, toward the most exact familiarity possible with the languages per se, but the introduction of the students into the spirit of antiquity is made of prime importance; and hence the ancient writers are treated not so much with reference to their grammar and style as to their general human, moral, and æsthetic significance. In the lower classes, naturally, a certain formal strictness is indispensable for strengthening the linguistic foundation, for sharpening the perception, and developing a clear, logical method of thought, for which nothing else is so well adapted, according to the German view, as the structure of Latin grammar.

The character of the Gymnasium is best seen through a statement of the entire system of higher schools in Prussia. The Gymnasia include a nine-year course, with both Greek and Latin; the Progymnasia are similar schools of six or seven-year courses; the Realgymnasia give a nine-year course, with Latin, but no Greek; the Realprogymnasia, similar courses of six or seven years' length; the Oberrealschulen offer a nine-year course, with neither Latin nor Greek; the Realschulen or burgher schools (Bürgerschulen) are similar schools, with six-year courses only. The burgher school in many of the German States is simply a common school with a continuation school (Fortbilduugsschule) course attached. The organization and curriculum of the Gymnasium in the various States of Germany present many points of difference, but in essential characteristics there is unity throughout, so that students can be transferred from one to another without interruption of their work. The Gymnasium embraces nine classes or one-year courses: Sexta, Quinta, Quarta, lower and upper Tertia, lower and upper Secunda, lower and upper Prima. Pupils are admitted to Sexta at nine or ten years of age, and are required to have a knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Latin is the basis of instruction from the beginning. In the Prussian schools eight hours a week is given to it for the first two years, seven for the next four, and six for the last three. The emphasis on Latin is much greater in the other States than in Prussia, where the entire course calls for sixty-two week hours in this subject, while in Württemberg it is eighty-one. The official programme of 1901 expresses the aim of Latin instruction thus: “On the sure basis of grammatical training to enable boys to understand the more important writers of Rome, and thus to introduce them to the intellectual life and culture of the ancient world.” In the Realgymnasium the purpose is stated to be the comprehension, based on accurate grammatical knowledge, of the easier works of Roman literature. Latin essays are no longer required. Reading begins in the Quarta with Cornelius Nepos and Phædrus; in the Tertia, Cæsar and Ovid; in the Secunda, Cicero, Livy, Sallust, and Vergil; in the Prima, Cicero, Tacitus, and Horace; sometimes extracts from Catullus, Tibullus, and Propertius, and, exceptionally, Terence or Plautus. Greek in the fourth year (Lower Tertia) occupies six hours a week in each class. The grammar is finished in the fourth year; the authors read are the following: First, Xenophon; then, in the Secunda, Homer's Odyssey, Xenophon, Herodotus, and Lysias; in the Prima, Homer's Iliad, Demosthenes, Thucydides, and Plato, extracts from the lyric poets; of the tragic poets, Sophocles and Euripides, rarely Æschylus. Besides the authors named various others are not excluded, as Isocrates, Plutarch, Arrian, Curtius, Quintilian.

A change, revolutionary in character, which to a great degree breaks down the distinction between the Gymnasia and the Realgymnasia, was introduced in 1901 and 1902, as a result of the conflict begun some ten years previously, under the leadership of the present Emperor, and waged for the modernization of the higher curriculum. This change is the introduction of English into the gymnasial course and making Greek elective. This is the most far-reaching change made since the introduction of the Realschulen. In 1901 the higher professions, save that of the ministry, were opened to those who had no knowledge of the Greek language, but who possessed in its stead a corresponding knowledge of modern languages. A strong tendency away from the Greek immediately made itself felt. The school which gave the necessary languages, Latin, French, English, was the Realgymnasium. But there were in Prussia (in 1898) 277 Gymnasia and only 67 Realgymnasia, and hence such a shifting of clientage would have been injurious to both schools, Moreover, the character and amount of the instruction in Latin in the Realgymnasia is inferior to that of the Gymnasia. Hence some modification of the gymnasial curriculum was necessary. Then followed the introduction of English and the placing of Greek on an elective basis.

The great difference existing between the Gymnasia and the Realgymnasia is still that of the respective emphasis on the classics. A much greater time is given to the study of Latin in the Gymnasia and to science in the Realgymnasia. Both French and mathematics receive greater attention in the Realgymnasia. In the Gymnasia French begins in the third year (Quarta) with four hours a week; later, three; then only two. Little time can be spared for practice in speaking; grammar and reading form the chief parts of the instruction. The reading embraces the classical and the most important of other poets and prose writers. German is given four to three hours with the following course: In the lower classes, mythology, grammar, and explanation of poetical works; in the middle classes, rhetoric, poetics, and the reading of easy plays and larger poems; in the Prima, the history of German literature, reading of the Nibelungenlied and Walther von der Vogelweide, with the most important works of the classical period, especially Lessing, Schiller, and Goethe, and some introduction of Shakespeare. Hebrew and English are elective and are given two hours a week. The recent change has given much more time to English. Mathematics has four hours throughout, except in Tertia, where it has only three, and includes geometry, mensuration, plane and spherical trigonometry, stereometry, and the elements of analytical geometry; in arithmetic, the fundamental operations, equations of the first and second degree, arithmetical and geometrical computations, compound interest and stocks, combinations, the theory of probability, and the binomial theorem. The natural sciences have throughout two hours, and embrace descriptive natural history, zoölogy and anthropology, botany and mineralogy, physics, mathematical geography, and an introduction to astronomy and chemistry. History receives two hours in the lower middle classes, and three in the upper. The matter is so divided that the whole passes twice before the pupil; in the Quarta, ancient history; in the Tertia, mediæval and modern; in the Secunda, the history of Greece and Rome for the second time; and in the Prima, general history, from the migrations of the nations to the present time, with special reference to German history. Geography has two hours in each of the lower classes, one in the Tertia, with a review of the subject in the upper classes in connection with history. The Sexta has two hours of penmanship. Religion (separately, according to creed) has four hours. Gymnastics, singing, and drawing have each two hours; the last branch is not pursued in the four upper classes.

The number of hours of teaching averages 30 to 34 per week. The instruction is given from 8 to 12 A.M. (intermission at 10 o'clock), and from 2 to 4 or 5 P.M.; the afternoons of Wednesday and Saturday are free. For home preparation one to two hours are required from the lower classes, two to three hours from the upper. Vacations occur at Christmas, Easter, sometimes at Whitsuntide, and the longest in the autumn, altogether eleven weeks. At the end of the school year (generally at Easter) formal public closing exercises are held, with the announcement of promotions and distribution of prizes to the best scholars. A pupil who has in no report the note ‘unsatisfactory’ is transferred to the next higher class. If two branches are unsatisfactory he is required to pass through the same class again, in Prussia even with one ‘unsatisfactory.’ In Southern Germany in such a case a reëxamination in the study after vacation determines his remaining or advancement.

As the Gymnasia are only very seldom boarding schools (Internata), the maintenance of discipline outside of school is accomplished by certain regulations, which, however, allow scholars of the Prima somewhat greater freedom. The punishment for transgressions is arrest, imprisonment, or the consilium abcundi, which is followed at the next offense by expulsion. Each class is in general limited to forty students, and when that number is exceeded parallel divisions are formed. Since many Gynmasia have 700-800 pupils, all their classes contain two, sometimes even three, divisions. Each class is under the special supervision of a class teacher or ‘ordinarius,’ who teaches the chief branches in that class. At the head of the Gymnasium is a ‘director.’ The directors are themselves responsible to an ‘Oberschulrat’ or ‘Oberstudienrat’ (Board of Education), in Prussia the ‘Provinzialschulkollegium,’ and the latter to the Ministry of Religion and Instruction. Conferences of the directors and higher school officials act on questions of instruction, and determine changes in method, conditional upon the Imperial sanction.

The higher schools are primarily State institutions; some are also municipal. The State supervises the schools by inspections, appoints and pays the teachers, who bear in the south the title of ‘professor,’ in the north that of ‘Oberlehrer’; but specially deserving teachers in Prussia also receive the title of professor. Younger teachers, from their State examinations to their definite appointment, bear the title of ‘Lehramtspraktikant’ or ‘Probecandidat’ (probationary instructor). Teachers without academic education are employed only for arithmetic, natural history, penmanship, and the special branches, drawing and gymnastics. The instruction is not free; the State receives a tuition fee of 60-120 marks, according to the class. At the completion of the gymnasial course the examination for graduation (Arbiturienten- or Maturitätsprüfung) is held under the direction of a State commissioner and is judged very severely. The successful candidates receive the certificate of fitness for the university. The privilege of granting this certificate belonged formerly to the Gymnasium alone, but graduates of the Realgymnasium may now enter law, medicine, and all studies of the philosophical faculty, save classical languages. The certificates of the Oberrealschule admit to university study of mathematics and natural sciences. The other higher schools fit for the great technical schools. A privilege quite as highly prized as that of fitness for the university, and one that is to a great degree responsible for the large attendance and public support of the Gymnasia, is the exemption from one year of the required two years' military service on successful completion of the six-year gymnasial course. Nearly one-half of all secondary pupils in Prussia leave school at the end of six years after securing this privilege. This privilege also explains the formation of the Progymnasium, which offers simply the first six years of the gymnasial course. The Realgymnasium differs from the Gymnasium in the stronger emphasis on the non-classical subjects, as is seen in the greater number of hours given to mathematics and the sciences, and the fewer hours given to Latin, in the omission of Greek, and in the requirement of English as well as French. The Realschulen (q.v.) and the Oberrealschulen are altogether non-classical. Every higher school has a well-endowed school library and a teachers' library, and publishes at the end of each school year a ‘Program,’ which is, first, a handbook of school information records, vacations, and lists of students, and, second, contains a scientific treatise written by a teacher of the school.

In essential unity of method and in the equal supervision of the State, the higher schools as a whole stand on the same plane of excellence, although one or another institution may occasionally enjoy a position of preëminence through the influence of a specially gifted director, or a happily constituted faculty. So in Prussia the ‘Landes- und Fürstenschule’ Pforta (Foundation school), in Saxony the ‘Landes- und Fürstenschule’ at Meissen, all founded previous to the middle of the sixteenth century, in Württemberg the ‘elite’ schools of the upper Gymnasia (without lower classes), in which only pupils of marked excellence are received — e.g. at Maulbronn. Some of these most noted institutions are boarding-schools. At the present time there are in all Germany more than 1200 approved higher schools, of which about 450 are Gymnasia. Consult: Matthew Arnold, Higher Schools and Universities in Germany (2d ed., London, 1882); Schrader, Erziehungs- und Unterrichtslehre für Gymnasien und Realschulen (5th ed., Berlin, 1893); Paulsen, Geschichte des gelehrten Unterrichts auf den deutschen Schulen und Universitäten (2d ed., Leipzig, 1895-97); Russell, German Higher Schools (New York, 1899); Bolton, Secondary School System of Germany (New York, 1900); Special Reports on Educational Subjects by the Board of Education of Great Britain, vols, i., iii., and ix. See National Education, Systems of; Realschulen.