Why don't you like public school

School then and now: A little journey through time

Compulsory schooling

The compulsory schooling required by the state is not that old. For the first time, the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I ordered compulsory schooling in an edict in 1717. Little by little, other rulers followed his example.

However, compulsory schooling was only properly implemented and observed in the course of the 19th century. Many parents did not see the need for regular classes, as they eventually lost their workforce. Also meant regular visits to the school a considerable financial burden for poorer sections of the population. But a lot has changed since compulsory schooling began.

Teachers then and now

Back then:

For a long time the financial situation and the social standing of the teachers were modest. Many had to work in addition to their school service in order to secure their livelihood. The situation of the profession only improved in the 20th century. Incidentally, the term "teachers" is used deliberately. There were a few female teachers, but it was not until the 1860s that the state granted them access to the teaching profession. However, they were not allowed to teach all school subjects and had to give up their jobs as soon as they got married. This "teacher celibacy" was deleted from the constitution in 1919.


Today the field of activity of teachers is much larger than before. In addition to the pedagogical teaching assignment is advisory competence in the professional and Study choice the student asked. A teacher is no longer just a person of respect, but should also help his students in difficult situations support as a confidant.

According to a survey by the Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy in 2012, the psychological stress for teachers is higher today than it was almost 15 years ago. They must too Take on parenting responsibilities, whereby dealing with these is experienced as much more difficult. Nevertheless, 63 percent of the teachers surveyed said that the joy of their job outweighs them.

Change in the educational ideal

Back then:

Discipline, obedience, diligence and order were the decisive educational goals in the German Empire (1871-1918). The students moved in time at the teacher's command. Talking and whispering was immediately punished severely. The instruction "Sit up straight, prick up your ears. Fold your hands, hold your beak." should describe the atmosphere at that time very well.


Today against it independent thinking, creativity, own ideas and critical ability to be developed. Group work, educational games and digital programs ensure a varied class. Critics see a turning away from the concept of performance and discipline and label this as "cozy education".

"Get paws"

Corporal punishment for lack of discipline and poor performance were on the agenda well into the 20th century. The expression "getting paws" - this refers to blows with a cane or ruler on the palm of the hand - should still be known to your grandparents. Students sometimes had to cut the willow pieces themselves with which they were beaten. Why nobody complained? Corporal punishment was also common at home.

From the 1960s onwards, all federal states increasingly banned corporal punishment in schools, the bottom of the list was Bavaria in 1983.

Long-running favorite: smoking ban

Who would have thought that smoking among children and adolescents was regulated by the state as early as 1856? Smoking was considered a bad habit at the time. Also From 1839 teachers were no longer allowed to consume tobacco during lessonsto serve as a role model. Today the ban applies mainly for health reasons and less for social reasons. What hasn't changed: Smoking simply cannot be banned through prohibitions. If schools prohibit the glow sticks on the school premises, the smokers look for another meeting place.

Between spittoon and portrait of the emperor

In addition to the lectern, the blackboard and the multi-seated school desks with tables, a large cupboard for teaching materials was part of the basic equipment of an imperial classroom. Slates, pens and ink were stored here. Pointing stick and baton, a water jug ​​for the table sponge, a card stand, a portrait of the emperor and a bowl-like vessel on the floor completed the furnishings. Coughing pupils should spit into this so-called "spittoon"in order to keep the risk of infection such as tuberculosis as low as possible.

In one classroom, a teacher taught several years with up to 100 students. The students sat on the benches according to age group. The term "stay seated" has its origin here: a student with poor performance was not allowed to change banks in the new school year.

School subjects through the ages

Back then:

Formed in the 18th century Religion, reading, writing, singing, and increasingly arithmetic too the canon of subjects. The timetable looked different depending on the gender. Boys had "arithmetic and spatial theory", girls "female handicraft". Physical education was only given to male students: The school subject "physical education" should prepare them for military service.


Today there is a wide range of subjects with compulsory electives and working groups. Computer-based subjects that prepare for a life in the digital age are increasingly new. In public schools, no distinction is made according to gender, ethnicity or other criteria. With the help of inclusive pedagogy, physically and mentally handicapped children and young people should also be integrated into everyday school life.


With the introduction of compulsory schooling, too School reports issued. They initially only served as Proof of compulsory school attendance, only later as proof of qualification. Over time, many questions were linked to the exhibition: Which evaluation categories should there be? How often are grades awarded? For whom are the certificates actually issued?

Today's teachers' associations, politicians and educators are controversial about whether school grades and certificates in their current form should not be abolished and replaced by a more individualized evaluation system. One thing is certain: Testimonials are the key to success much more than they used to be. They essentially determine our individual and social opportunities.