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THE CENTRAL CONTENTION: ABOLITION OF CLERICAL SUPERVISION.
Passing by the relatively secondary debates on the arrangement of courses, the amount of time devoted to Religionsunterricht, its place in the eight-year course," and so on, attention may be directed to the central contention of the reformers—the abolition of clerical supervision.
Historically, the supervision of the teaching of religion by the clergy is a survival from the days when all education was under the church. It is therefore an integral part of the system. But little by little, in consequence of the gradual trend toward secularization, the visitorial rights of the clergy in the several German states have been modified or wholly abolished. And the present conflict in Saxony focuses particular attention on the matter. Early in 1908, the National Liberal and Freisinnige parties advocated in the Landtag the abolition of clerical supervision, but the Kultusminister did not favor the proposal. The most significant feature of the debate was the evidence it gave that apparently a majority of the Saxon clergy themselves would prefer to be relieved of supervisory duties, partly because of their ill-defined position under the law, and partly because of the opposition of the educational press..
Over against these facts must be set the official action of the Saxon Church. As already noted, early in the autumn of 1908 the teachers of Saxony, in the Zwickau meeting, declared definitely for the abolition of the clerical oversight. In response to this challenge, the Landessynode at Meissen, some months later, took an equally definite position for the retention of the clerical powers. The contention of
@ Much of the literature cited in this report deals with these topics in their proper connections.
> For summaries of recent discussions see Päd. Jahresschau I. 53–54, 63-67 ; II. 49. See also Christiani, Die Zwick. Thesen, etc., passim; Franke, Der Kampf um den RU. 25-30. As typical of the reform position may be cited the words of Reukauf (Rein, Stimmen I. 13) and of Rein (do. II. 55-56). The latter says: “ The supervision of the religious instruction in the schools by the Church is an unevangelical arrangement that Is full of menace for the religious education of our youth." The whole relation of Church and school is discussed thoughtfully by Tews, Schulkämpfe, chaps. II, IV, V.
e In general the smaller states have gone farther in restricting clerical oversight than the larger ones. In some form it still remains in the four great kingdoms of Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria, and Württemberg. Tews, Schulkämpfe, 81. In Prussia, however, the clerical right is limited. Tews, Schulkämpfe, 79-81 ; Päd. Jahresschau II. 54-55 ; III. 49-51. For recent discussions in Württemberg, see Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 16 Jahrg. 280-282.
. Päd. Jahresschau III. 53–54. For the testimony of pastors who favor the change see Rein, Stimmen II. 20–21 ; Sulze, Das rechte Verhältnis, 23-28; do., Staat und Schule, 12-16.
• Zwickau Theses, No. 3: “The course of study and method of instruction must conform to the nature of the child-mind, and the determination of these is exclusively the business of the school. The churchly oversight of religious instruction is to be abolished."
Meissner Resolutions, No. 2: “ Now as always, It does not oppose the establishment of a purely professional oversight of the State over the schools. But it maintains the duty and right of the Church to have oversight over the religious teaching of its adolescent members." See also the debate in the Sächsische Kirchliche Konferenz at Chemnitz, Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 16 Jahrg. 632-633.
the church, as thus set forth, is to the effect that, while the control of the teacher in the methods of instruction is to be respected, his right can not be allowed to cover the selection of teaching materials and can not exempt his instruction from necessary tests as to its conformity with church standards. The church looks upon the clerical supervision as the recognition of its historic and constitutional rights in the schools and as the guarantee for the legitimate exercise of those rights. The church rests its claim to supervision on the duty it has assumed, through contract with the state, to fit the youth of the land for good citizenship, so far as training in religion can accomplish that result.a
For the teachers, on the other hand, clerical supervision operates as a peculiarly heavy burden, because they see in it primarily an agency for testing their own conformity to orthodox standards. It becomes thus a matter of the creed and passes out of the sphere of legitimate pedagogy. The literature of the debate abounds in appeals from the teachers for the liberty of teaching, for the rights of conscience, and the like. As judged by their personal and collective utterances, this is the sorest grievance of the teachers of Germany in the matter of religious instruction. They feel they are set to do a task which calls for the highest exercise of discretion and conscience, but that they are not trusted to carry discretion and conscience into their work. They feel that with their responsibility they are not accorded the liberty which makes responsibility effective. Their demand for the abolition of clerical oversight rests on the conviction that thus alone can they come into the position of independence and freedom which of right belongs to them.
The tendency of events in Saxony and throughout Germany is toward a positive limitation of the clerical rights in the schools; but it may be questioned whether either logically or practically these powers can be wholly extinguished so long as the present close alliance between the nation and the national church continues in force.c
QUALIFICATIONS OF TEACHERS-FREEDOM OF TEACHING,
Closely connected with the problem of supervision are certain questions relating to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual qualifications of teachers, the nature and method of the teacher's preparation, and the actual quality of the religious instruction now given in the German schools.
* Franke, Der Kampf um den RU. 30–37; Rietschel, Zur Reform des RU. 11-16.
For utterances of this type, see the current files of educational journals, and such representative collections as the debates at Zwickau (Die I'mgestaltung des RU, etc.), Gansberg, Religionsunterrichty and Rein, Stimmen. The question how far the protests of the teachers are due to a lack of harmony with the doctrinal standards of the Church will be considered later.
• Some comment on this aspect of things will be found in B, page 35.
Men of all opinions, excepting perhaps the outright dissenters from religion of every type, agree that the qualifications of the teacher must pass beyond the purely intellectual. Over and above the requirement of sound moral character and healthy moral ideals, there must be in him such personal religious life as will enable him to deal understandingly and sympathetically with the religious instincts of the children under his instruction. It is felt very generally that, more than anywhere else in the school, the personal touch is here decisive.
As a corollary to this position, it follows that the teacher must have freedom to give his instruction in his own way, by the most effective use of his own personality. “The teacher is the method.” The exponents of the teachers' rights urge this consideration with great earnestness. As a further corollary to the situation, both reformers and conservatives agree that teachers who find themselves out of sympathy with the prevalent Religionsunterricht ought not to be allowed or required to teach the subject. In this conviction all parties are at one, although differing in wide degree as to the proper application of remedies.
The discussions also give considerable place to the need of better training for the teachers of religion, in the men's and the women's normal schools and through other agencies. The desirability of opening university courses more freely to the teachers in this field is also drawing attention. It is thus evident that with the demand for
. The literature of the subject is full of utterances to this effect. As typical may be cited: Rein, stimmen, 3, 19, 24, 50; Franke, Der Kampf um den RU. 75–76.
Bang, Zur Ref. des RU, 3.
& Hamb. Lehrer-Union, Denkschrift, 5-6 ; Sorgen, etc., 12; Bang, Zur Ref. des RU. 29 ; Lederer, Zur Ref. des RU. 45-47 ; Rietschel, Zur Ref. des RU. 58. In many instances teachers must teach what they do not believe or must relinquish their places. For the ecclesiastical and legal obligations of teachers as to Religionsunterricht see Mulert, Die Lehrverpflichtung.
• The churchly party would keep the system intact and exclude the dissenting teacher from the class room or from the school; the reformers would modify the system to meet the religious ideas and convictions of the teachers. For the controversy between the Leipziger Lehrerverein and Professor Rietschel concerning the toleration of atheists" in religious instruction, see Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 16 Jahrg. passim ; Rietschel, Zur Ref. des RU., passim ; Leipz. Lehrerverein, Die Zwickau T'hesen, etc., passim ; Christiani, Die Zwick. Thesen, etc., 9-10.
I Thrändorf, in Rein, Stimmen II, 37-44 ; Arzt. Welche Mängel, 51 ; Franke, Der Kampf um den RU. 76-80; Päd. Jahresschau III. 108-128, 173-174; Denkschrift über die IV. Konf. ron Religionslehrerinnen zu Cassel, 1908, 55–70; Reukauf, Didaktik des ev. RU. 24-38. The Zwickau Theses called attention to this subject. No. 9: “Along with the reform of religious instruction in the Volksschule there is needed a corresponding transformation of religious instruction in the Seminar." See also Die Umgestaltung des RU. 39-42. The reformers complain that the RU. in normal schools is almost wholly on antiquated lines. Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 3–5, 182.
• The address of Professor Adolf Harnack on this subject at the “ Versammlung deutscher Philologen und Schulmänner " at Basel, September 25, 1907, has been particularly influential in this direction. See the volume Universität und Schule containing the papers read at this congress ; also Päd. Jahresschau II. 133-135 ; III. 169–170. The University of Leipzig has for some years offered vacation courses for teachers of religion.
a higher type of teaching in religious truth there is a growing impulse to equip the teacher for his work, in order that in scholarship and intellectual outlook he may be in adequate touch with modern biblical science and theological thought."
In the background of these divers proposals stands the present system of religious training, with its strength and its weakness. On all sides it seems to be agreed that the instruction as now conducted is highly unsatisfactory, that it does not produce the desired results. In part the failure is attributed to the faulty selection and arrangement of materials, in part to the heavy load of memory work, but by common consent the cardinal fault is placed in the lack of a true relation between the teacher and the subject. Grounding one's judgment on the expressions of conviction by men of all parties, it must be concluded that the teaching of religion in the public schools of Germany at the present time is so pedantic, unsympathetic, and unspiritual as to constitute a serious condemnation of the system. The system seems to produce fruits diametrically opposed to its intent and purpose. Where it was designed to beget faith and vital religious purpose,
it seems to produce unfaith or religious indifference. It is the general recognition of these conditions which has aroused the widespread demand for reform.
• In so far as it affects the teaching in the schools, the tendency of current theology will be touched upon later.
The following personal narrative is fairly representative : “ When I was a boy twelve years old I had an older friend. One time I talked with him about religion, Then he said to me: 'How is it possible for you to believe in God ?' I tried to 'prove' it to him from the Bible, as I had learned to do in school. Then he smote me with my own weapon. God created the world. Adam and Eve were the first human beings. They had two children. Cain killed Abel. Then Cain married. Where did he get his wife?
“ I was dumfounded. I could not answer. So what was in the Bible was not true, and the whole religious structure which the school had built collapsed, because it was built on supports which criticism showed to be rotten. And my teacher ? He could not be so narrow that he did not discover what had occurred to a boy. Only one explanation was possible : he lied deliberately. From that time it was out with religion,' and I would probably still be an outsider, had not a later, better teacher restored that which the first had injured through his lack of criticism and of courage." Arzt, Welche Mängel, 6–7. The story at least makes it evident that there are teachers of the better sort.
After speaking of the typical class-room exercise, the same author says: “I am convinced that a recitation of that sort is a sin against the holy spirit of the child." For the lack of vitality and spirituality in Religionsunterricht see Rein, Stimmen 1. 37-38. The Päd. Jahresschau III. 75, reports an investigation in Kiel where, out of 500 children (250 boys, 250 girls) between the ages of nine and fourteen, only twelve named ге. ligion" as the favorite study, while with the large majority it stood far down the list of preferences; also a like investigation in Breslau where among 2,556 children about two and one-half per cent of the boys liked “religion " best, a very large majority expressing positive dislike of the subject, while among the girls likes and dislikes pretty nearly balanced one another. One writer in Gansberg, Religionsunterricht?, while expressing great love and reverence for the Bible says: The heartlessness of the customary religious instruction was a terror to me from childhood : from one day to the next, thirty to forty disconnected Bible passages and in addition a lot of trivial chorale to learn thoroughly was to me, in spite of my good memory, a horror." Fitger, in Gansberg, Religionsunterricht: 27. For general criticism of school training from the standpoint of results in character, see Päd. Jahrerschau II. 30-33. See also Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 234-236.
It seems evident that the fault lies not in any incapacity on the part of the teachers, but in the conditions which impose on them a kind of instruction contrary to their inclinations and their consciences. At the same time it must be recognized that many teachers in Saxony and the other German States do not find the existing system irksome and are able to use it for excellent results.a
B. --FUNDAMENTAL AND ULTIMATE PROBLEMS.
Thus far this report has confined itself to issues distinctively within the school. But, as implied at the beginning, the present controversy long since ceased to be merely a school question, and passed out into the larger field of general public interest. With some consideration of this aspect of the situation the report may close.
ATTITUDE OF VARIOUS RELIGIOUS GROUPS.
In general it may be said that, while the debate takes its form from the school, it gets its substance and its spirit from these wider relationships. In the last analysis the attitude of individual leaders and of coherent groups toward the specific question of religious instruction rests back on their attitude toward religion itself. Analyzing the field from this point of view, one may distinguish four groups as follows:
1. The orthodox confessional group;
4. The Romanist group. In the mutual attractions and repulsions of these divers parties is to be found the key to the situation; and without some knowledge of their relationships the seriousness and intensity of the school question can not be understood.
The orthodox confessional group.—The orthodox confessional party finds its strength in the powerful position of the Lutheran Church in nearly all German States. While not formally an “established " church, it enjoys so many privileges and prerogatives under the law as to be in a peculiarly strong and favored situation. In various German States there exists a real or implied contract between the state and the church by virtue of which the church assumes responsibility for the religious training of the young, thus giving the
* This appears in the debates at Zwickau and is evident in many ways. Numerous teachers' organizations in Germany are primarily devoted to upholding the present sys. tem of religious teaching. See the Handbuch des Verbandes deutscher erangelischer Schulund Lehrerrereine. Berlin, 1903. This volume affords impressive evidence as to the strength of the evangelical confession among the teachers of Germany and as to their activity for preserving its place in the schools. See also Päd. Jahresschau I. 164; II. 174-176; III. 150–151.
> While the ruling house in Saxony adheres to the Roman Church, the people are almost wbolly Lutheran. See Sulze, Das rechte Verhältn. 6.