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The Educational Process in Prussian Poland

The main idea of the government was to "Germanize" the Polish community and education was one of the means used. In Prussia, for instance, the most advanced of the German states in this respect, the village schools seem to have remained wretched in most cases until after the end of the century. From official report of an inspection made in 1802 and 1803 in Cleve, a Prussian province where conditions were favorable, it appears that Frederick the Great's admirable General-Landschul-Reglement of 1763 had remained a dead letter. Theoretically, attendance at school for six hours a day was compulsory for all children between the ages of five or six and thirteen. For the poor no fee was charged. The qualifications necessary for a teacher were defined, classes were to be duly graded and uniform textbooks to be used. But at their inspection it was found that forty-three teachers out of sixty-seven were incompetent. Hardly any had attended the training school set up for Cleve in 1784, they had usually been appointed without being examined and once in office they had neither the leisure nor the books they required to improve themselves. They were so wretchedly paid that all had some other occupation. Many were organists or vergers or both, some were tailors or exercised some other craft, some sold brandy or collected tolls. The school buildings, where regular buildings existed, were almost always in bad repair. Often a room had to be hired for the purpose in a house, and sometimes the teacher slept in the schoolroom. There were often no separate classes. Each child came up book in hand and said its lesson. The curriculum was extremely narrow, reading, writing and perhaps a little arithmetic, and a good deal of religion. Little was read beyond the Bible and catechism. Attendance was extremely irregular. In summer the schools were empty. If these were the conditions in an enlightened state, it can be imagined what they were like in the average small state. But in the second half of the century a considerable number of peasants could at least read and write, as is indicated by the large sales of the calendars and so forth that were written for them.


From "Germany In The XVIII Century", by W. H. Bruford, Cambridge Press 1935

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