Between Elite and Mass Education
Education in the Federal Republic of Germany
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Major changes in education have taken place in West Germany over the past three decades. The experience of the Federal Republic differs from that of its European neighbors, since it was conditioned by postwar efforts of the occupying powers to impose a new model of education: the American comprehensive secondary school. Yet the traditional American educational system is at the extreme of what could be called "mass education," whereas that of West Germany is more nearly "class education" that is, more structurally differentiated and keeping a much smaller proportion of pupils in school until age 18. Moreover, as in every developed country, West Germany has experienced increased consumer demand from an expanding middle class for more extended secondary education that does not foreclose post- secondary options.
This study shows the structure that has emerged from this unique experiment with elite and mass education. Discussed at length are the four secondary routes: the Gymnasium, the Realschule, the Hauptschule, and the Volksschule. Also featured are the German answers to questions that have occupied the center of attention in American education for some years: education of ethnic minorities, education- ally disadvantaged, and handicapped children.
Prepared by a team of researchers associated with the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Education, the study provides the only comprehensive and up-to-date picture of the pre- sent educational system in the Federal Republic of Germany. Its abundance of statistical data make it a valuable resource for the educator, political scientist, and European Studies specialist. Its clarity renders it accessible to the non-specialist as well.
The panoramic and yet detailed view that this book gives of German education goes a long way toward providing the base upon which comparison of education in the United States and the Federal Republic can begin.