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PROPOSALS OF NEW SCHOOL LAWS.
Most of all, the Saxon teachers have labored through the year
for the enactment of new legislation based on the Zwickau doctrines. Early in 1909 a committee of the Lower Chamber in the Saxon Landtag reported a comprehensive plan for the revision of the school laws in which the subject of religious instruction received special consideration, and the proposals were substantially approved by the Chamber. The recommended laws maintain the confessional character of the school and the clerical oversight, but provide for a reduction of the memory work, urge less dependence on the letter of scripture and of the catechism, and advise the preparation of a special bible reading book for the Volksschule. These proposals of the Landtag therefore show a disposition to accept the minor features of the Zwickau programme, but not to concur in the main questions involved.
Final action on these proposals was postponed to the next Landtag in order to give time for public discussion. This movement for a revised school law has thus given the teachers a chance to get a hearing for the reform principles, and they have made diligent use of it. During the summer of 1909 the board of directors (Vorstand) of the national Lehrerverein submitted to the several Bezirksvereine the proposed legislation, asking them to consider it and report. This work has been done, and all phases of the contemplated laws have been maturely debated, especially the provisions concerning Religionsunterricht. Underlying this activity has been the purpose to bring the new law as fully as possible into conformity with the principles of the Zwickau Theses.
Four problems have received chief consideration:
3. The preparation of a Biblisches Lesebuch or book of Bible readings;
4. The shaping of a new system of Schulaufsicht or school supervision.
THE SELECTION OF MATERIALS FOR MEMORIZING.
Ainong the distinctively pedagogical problems involved, the selection of the materials for memorizing has perhaps caused most debate among the teachers. As must be shown later, the excessive amount of memory work required is one of the crying defects of the old system of religious instruction and the reformers are resolute both to diminish the amount and to improve the quality of it. The discussions in Saxony in the last months have centered about the “ Chemnitzer Vorschläge," a comprehensive outline of materials for memorizing compiled by the Bezirksverein of Chemnitz.a The Chemnitz outline comprises 137 Bible verses and 95 stanzas of church hymns, In general the other Bezirksvereine have found the Chemnitz plan too full and have proposed considerable reductions. The draft finally agreed upon comprises a memory requirement of 80 Bible verses, 41 stanzas of church hymns, and a few secular poems.c At its annual meeting January 3 and 4, 1910, the Representative Assembly (Vertreterversammlung) of the Saxon Lehrerverein approved this plan. If these proposals of the teachers are enacted into law they will greatly reduce the quantity and improve the quality of the Lernstoff.e
* The draft of laws is printed in Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 16 Jahrg. 300–313.
The new law will be in the nature of a general revision covering many other matters. The present school law has been in force since 1873, although amended in parts from time to time.
OUTLINE OF NEW COURSE OF STUDY.
Through a similar process of debate in the district unions, the teachers have worked out a course of study in religion for the eight years
of the Volksschule. In this matter the original Vorschläge came from the Bezirksverein of Pirna. The Pirna Vorschläge would keep Religionsunterricht evangelical but not narrowly confessional, laying emphasis on the life and teaching of Christ. Systematic religious instruction is to comprise two hours a week in the third and fourth years, three hours a week in the last four years. The course of study is to include, in the third year, simple stories from the life of Christ; in the fourth year, Old Testament narratives and the Ten Commandments; in the fifth and sixth years, an intensive study of the life and teaching of Christ; in the seventh and eighth years, the prophets and Psalms, the history of the apostles, select character-studies from church history, with special reference to the leaders and benefactors of Germany. The Catechism and the leading church hymns are to be introduced in their proper ings as parts of the history. Throughout the last years the main endeavor is to be to secure a deeper comprehension of the life and teachings of Jesus.
a Text in full in Leipz. Lehrerzait. 17 Jahrg. 19-22. For a careful criticism, see the article by K. Wehner, Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 124-128. He condemns the Chemnitz selections as too numerous, too theological, and as lacking in practical precepts. Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 137. 217.
Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 185, 242. The latter reference contains the outline in full. See also do. 271-273, 276-277.
& Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 313-314. The assembly, however, adopted resolutions urging the district unions to prepare much fuller collections from which the teachers might choose the materials best adapted to their pupils, and also recommending more selections from secular literature.
• The church party naturally opposes the changes. Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 305, 327. The old law required a much larger amount of Lernstoff. Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 398.
1 Text in Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 22, The dependence of these proposals on the Zwickau Theses is obvious throughout.
In the ensuing discussions the Pirna plan was subjected to a severe examination. It was criticised for upholding the confessional school, taking too much time, requiring too much memorizing, and keeping the Catechism. The Leipzig teachers' union indorsed resolutions of a much more radical nature, restricting systematic religious instruction to two hours a week for the last four years, laying more stress on modern, nonbiblical literature, omitting the Catechism, and greatly reducing the memory work. The Pirna plan and the Leipzig plan thus represent divergent ideals among the teachers. At their meeting November 16 and 17, 1909, the board of directors of the national union gave their sanction to a mediating plano which restricts the instruction to two hours weekly for the last four years, but carefully safeguards the biblical character of the instruction. It is thus an endeavor to reconcile the conflicting views. The debate reached its conclusion in the Vertreterversammlung of the national union at Dresden, January 3 and 4, 1910, when resolutions were adopted in substantial agreement with the Leipzig programme. The resolutions are as follows:
1. Religious instruction has the task of making the mind of Jesus to live in the children.
2. Systematic religious instruction is to be given two hours a week from the fifth to the eighth school year. In the first four years only occasional moral and religious teachings are to find place.
3. As the subject-matter in systematic Religionsunterricht are to be used pictures from the religious and moral life of pre-Christian times, the life of Jesus, the life and work of the apostles, and pictures from the religious and moral life of our people, with special reference to modern times. As equally justified subject-matter for all the school years may be used the experiences of the children and suitable productions of literature and art. The imparting of this subject matter is to be governed by the moral-religious ideas and the learning capacity of the several grades. Religious instruction must take account of the main results of biblical research and biblical history, must not come into conflict with our knowledge of the world from other sources, and must stand in harmony with the enlightened moral sentiment of our times.
4. A limited number of religious passages and songs are to be impressed on the memory. Compulsory memorizing is to be handled in a considerate manner.
In this outline of a course of study the teachers of Saxony have given practical expression to the ideals embodied in the Zwickau Theses. If this plan is enacted into law it will be possible for the teacher to make his instruction closely evangelical and confessional,
* A. Billhardt in Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 103-105.
# For the attitude of other district unions see Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 217, 303. Some plans proposed were even more conservative than that of Pirna,
Text in Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jabrg. 313. See do., 313, and Beilage zu Nr. 16. 19-20 for debates. Resolutions 1 and 3 and were adopted unanimously. A few objected to No. 2, as not beginning soon enough, and a few others to No. 4.
or to make it more general and liberal in scope. But in any event it must be kept within the terms of a broadly Christian body of truth.
BIBLICAL READING BOOK- -CLERICAL SUPERVISION.
The third line of activity indicated above, the preparation of a “ Biblisches Lesebuch ” or “ Schulbibel” has not gone so far. Such books of scripture selections are already in use in some of the schools, apparently with satisfactory results. As already indicated, the proposals of law in the Landtag of 1908–9 recommended the preparation of such a volume for the use of the Volksschulen. The recommendation was approved by the Vorstand of the national teachers' union and was included in the Pirna Vorschläge. While the subject has been taken up by various district unions, the information at hand does not indicate that anything decisive has yet been accomplished. At any rate the Leipziger Lehrerverein has seriously set its hand to the task.
As viewed by both parties to the debate, possibly the most vital issue involved in the present controversy is the matter of Schulaufsicht or school supervision. The teachers are directing their agitation not merely against the clerical supervision of the Religionsunterricht, but against the entire system which excludes them from what they regard as a due share in the oversight of the schools. With increasing earnestness, as the controversy has progressed, they have moved for larger control and more self-direction in their work.e Their urgent appeal for the abolition of clerical oversight in religious instruction must consequently be viewed as the specific application of the general demand at the point in school management where the pressure is most keenly felt. In consequence of these conditions the subject of clerical supervision has not in the Saxon debate assumed quite the prominence and particular importance which might be expected. The discussions among the teachers show a marked tendency to approach the matter through its larger relations.
« This liberty of choice is clearly indicated in No. 4 of the above articles.
For an appraisal of their value in the schools of Leipzig, see Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 388.
° Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 22, 363.
The propaganda of the reforming teachers has brought them into sharp collision with the Schuldirektoren, the chief organs of local inspection. For the general question see Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 16 Jahrg. 57–59, 411-416, 435-438, 575-579, 650–652, 702-703, 843-849, 877-878, 985-986; do. 17 Jahrg. 10-11, 111-113, 131-132, 138-140, 184-185, 215–217, 291-296, 314-315, 337-339.
! It is difficult to say whether the campaign against clerical supervision gains or loses by this policy. While the emancipation of Religionsunterricht from church control is, from the standpoint of the teachers, the greatest desideratum in relation to that subject, yet clearly they are more concerned to get a better system of general school supervision.
Nevertheless the reform movement stands positively for the abolition of clerical supervision in any part of school work. The Zwickau Theses spoke clearly on the matter, and through that utterance perhaps more than any other directed church opposition against them. For reasons not wholly obvious, the proposals of law approved by the Landtag of 1908-9 « indorsed this item in the Zwickau programme, and this sanction of the measure on the part of the national legislature so early in the conflict undoubtedly accounts for the small amount of public discussion during the year. The new school law will probably abolish the clerical supervision, but will retain the .church oversight in some more limited form.c
ATTITUDE OF THE PUBLIC AUTHORITIES.
Throughout Saxony the teachers took a very active interest in the fall elections of members of the Landtag now sitting in Dresden, the body which is to have the decisive rôle in shaping the new school law. In the campaign the question of revision became a leading issue, the subject of Religionsunterricht being especially to the front. A number of teachers stood as candidates for the Landtag, but nearly all were defeated.e
In the way of official action nothing final and decisive has yet been done with reference to the questions at issue. The attitude of the Kultusminister toward the reform measures is cautious and conservative. As noted above, the outlook for the new proposals of the teachers depends chiefly on the position of the lower chamber of the present legislature. In a membership of 91, the Conservatives count but 29 votes, while the Social Democrats and Freisinnigen together number 33.9 The balance of power lies with the National Liberal group, numbering about 30 votes, and its policy is uncertain.” In all probability the new school law will incorporate most of the pedagogical reforms for which the teachers ask and will at least lessen the clerical supervision, but it is not likely to change the essentially con
a Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 16 Jahrg. 301-307, 370.
Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 16 Jahrg. 649, 702. But the issue can not be regarded as yet settled. Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 16 Jahrg. 945 ; do. 17 Jahrg. 89. The subject is further discussed in Part II. See p. 26.
For example, the clergy may be excluded from the class room in any official capacity, but keep the right to examine the children in religion. Leipz. Lehrerzeit, 16 Jahrg. 301,
& Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 35–37. The elections were held October 21.
• Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 88, 129, 163–164. The opposition attributes the defeat to too much "free thinking” among the teachers. 1 Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 238–239; Sulze, Das rechte Verhältnis, 13.
Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 129. The debates to date (end of January, 1910) show a conservative disposition on the school question. Leipz, Lehrerseit. 17 Jahrg, 238,240, 372-378,