Strasbourg Gymnasium

johannes_sturmJohannes Sturm (1507–89) was a German scholar and educator. He founded (1537) and directed for more than 40 years the Strasbourg Gymnasium. His system of graded readings and classes shaped the course of studies of European secondary schools. He wrote a number of Latin textbooks. The most important of his works on education was his Book on the Right Method of Founding Schools for Literary Education (1537).

The term was derived from the classical Greek word “gymnasium,” which was originally applied to an exercising ground in ancient Athens. Here teachers gathered and gave instruction between the hours devoted to physical exercises and sports, and thus the term became associated with and came to mean an institution of learning.

This use of the term did not prevail among the Romans, but was revived during the Renaissance in Italy, and from there passed into the Netherlands and Germany during the 15th century. In 1538, John Sturm founded at Strassburg the school which became the model of the modern German gymnasium. In 1812, a Prussian  regulation ordered that all schools which had the right to send their students to the university should bear the name of gymnasia. By the 20th century, this practice was followed in almost all German states, in Austria and in Russia.

In the U.S. early 1800s, teaching young students was not perceived as an end goal for educated people. Adults became teachers without any particular skill except sometimes in the topic they were teaching. The checking of credentials was left to the local school board, who were mainly interested in the efficient use of limited taxes. This started to change with the introduction of two-year normal schools starting in 1823. By the end of the century, most teachers of elementary schools were trained in this fashion.

Upon becoming the secretary of education in Massachusetts in 1837, Horace Mann (1796–1859) worked to create a statewide system of professional teachers, based on the Prussian model, of "common schools," which referred to the belief that everyone was entitled to the same content in education. Mann's early efforts focused primarily on elementary education and on preparing teachers. The common-school movement quickly gained strength across the North. Connecticut adopted a similar system in 1849, and Massachusetts passed a compulsory attendance law in 1852. By 1900, 34 states had compulsory schooling laws.

Arguing that universal public education was the best way to turn the nation's unruly children into disciplined, judicious republican citizens, Mann won widespread approval from modernizers, especially among fellow Whigs, for building public schools. Indeed, most states adopted one version or another of the system he established in Massachusetts. By 1910, 72 percent of American children attended school, and half the nation's children attended one-room schools. In 1918, every state required students to complete elementary school.

From the very beginning the public school system has been a pawn in a larger game. The system that was put in place was developed in Germany and refined by Otto von Bismarck, the "Iron Chancellor." These "Gymnasiums" were notable because they taught children in a graded formation. Previously, children had all been taught together and there was no age distinction, with older children helping the younger ones.

What is never addressed today is the reason for the reconfigured system: It had to do with military accommodations. The idea was that boys educated together from childhood, and sent into battle together as well, would result in far more cohesive units. Public education was basically a way of increasing the efficiency of the German war machine.

Inevitably, this system spread to Britain and Europe and then to the United States. It was further complicated in the US by famous educator John Dewey who imported the dysfunctional see-and-say system from Russia into the US. Dewey, like the Soviet-Russians of the day, believed that the function of education was mainly one of socializing in order to turn out compliant workers.

The system was further redefined in America and Russia as one that was intended to turn out obedient, regimented workers. Learning was a secondary to the goal of achieving submissive subjects who would willingly succumb to life-long mind control. Naturally, mainstream media  would be there to pick up the slack and further the "education process" when the public school days of a subject were completed.

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