Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thesis on Education

Thesis on Education

Education during the Nazi period in Germany displays some similarities to the modern western education system despite having different long term goals. While Germany was trying to create barbaric conformists the modern education system tries to create submissive conformists to serve the purposes of society. Both education systems manage to do this from trying to mould children from a young age to turn them into “human puppets, not independent thinkers” (Kjos, 2001). In doing this many people can feel alienated from society at a young age that could have lead to imprisonment or execution within the Germany population where now it can lead to a life of poverty or imprisonment.

Education is the modern method by which a society hands down characteristics of one generation to the next including its knowledge, culture and values while each individual child develops physically, mentally, emotionally, morally, and socially. “Women and men of color, white women, and the working class and underclass have been absent from the "center" of analysis, research, theory, and the curriculum” (Flick, 2000) meaning that the modern curriculum is intended mainly for the white middle class, especially males. With the modern educations standards a similar curriculum is given to children through out the western world resulting in very little flexibility for the individual student. This results in nations of children being educated with the same knowledge, culture and values because the success of a student is often measured by their ability to accept these common qualities because “the more enthusiastic they get, the easier are the exams” (Kjos, 2001).


Education played a very important part in Nazi Germany in trying to cultivate a loyal following for Hitler and the Nazis. “The Nazis were aware that education would create loyal Nazis by the time they reached adulthood” Unknown, 2002, Nazi Germany…). The Hitler Youth had been created for after school activities and schools were to play a critical part in developing a loyal following for Hitler with “indoctrination and the use of propaganda were to be a common practice in Nazi schools and the education system” (Unknown, 2002, Nazi Germany…). Propaganda and indoctrination being the two foundations of Nazi education is no secret. Hitler's goal was National Socialism, a fascist state that would subdue and rule the world. “Jewish children were banned from the schools.” (Unknown, 1999, Nazis and…) Since Jewish children were banned from attending school it further isolated them from society and many of them eventually ended up in prison camps or executed.

The Nazi education during World War 2 had completely different motives to those of the current education system. The Nazi regime wanted its youth to continue on the ideologies and beliefs to further its battle for a superior race while the modern education still does the same except the modern society now has different values. The Nazis shaped children’s minds to be “brutal, domineering, fearless and cruel” (Hitler, 1933) whereas the modern education system teaches the adolescence of today to be materialistic, conforming and submissive. The reason for the differences is the variation in belief of utopia, Nazis believed the key to a superior society was through wiping out so called weaker races while modern society believes the key to a superior society is through wiping out so called weaker ideologies. The dominant ideology in western society closely reflects the values of white, middle class because this is the class that makes up a large percentage of the western world. The common ideology that is enforced today is that a person’s success can be measured by comparing themselves to another often comparing the amount of money and power of an individual. “Most advanced industrial societies today are extremely capitalist.” (Bottomore, 1991)

With Hitler learning his lessons from Soviet revolutionaries, he knew that only “cloaked promises and misleading visions could win the support of the unsuspecting masses and build a compliant army of young radicals” (Kjos, 2001). Although modern society’s educational and political leaders still stoop to the same low standard but this time it has remained hidden from the general public. In the Nazis establishment fight for what they believed would be a perfect race they used a number of strategies including propaganda, controlling information, creating the Jews as a scapegoat and crushing all the opposition not just physically but mentally. The same methods are still being used today as children at school “are subjected to relentless political propaganda, develop the habit of deferring to government authority and are alienated from the adult world.”(Rockwell, 2001) Instead of using a race as a scapegoat the education system now uses poverty, refugees and welfare recipients and this is achieved by associating refugees and welfare with poverty and then in turn associating poverty with crime, violence, drugs and depression.

Although the techniques used for discrediting the opposition’s beliefs might not be as obvious as it was during the Nazi regime they are still there. During the Nazi period all teachers had to be inspected by local Nazi officials. Any teacher considered disloyal was sacked immediately. All teachers had to be careful about what they said as children were encouraged to inform the authorities if a teacher said something that did not fit in with the Nazi's curriculum for schools. Teachers in the modern education system are still told they are not allowed to articulate their personal opinions in a classroom and “opposing the school system’s official moral or political stance is almost the only thing a teacher can do to get fired” (Edmonds, 2001, Public Educators…). Despite many teachers being able to see the problems with modern education the only option they have is to quit or to conform. “I taught in a government school for 5 years. I've since asked forgiveness from many friends and neighbors and promise never to do it again” (Perry, 2001). Suppressing teachers is the first step in controlling the education of young children because with out teachers support the task of imposing common values to the masses would be almost impossible.

The next step is to be able to turn the students into conformists, once the students have learnt to conform it is easier to enforce certain values and beliefs onto children. There are a number of methods that both the Nazi’s and the modern education system have used to encourage children to kowtow. For example both modern schools and Hitler Youth enforced children to wear uniforms to give students not just a feeling of fitting in but belonging to the system. “Encourages identification with the school and promotes school spirit” (Q.D.E, 2003, Moranbah…, p82). As well as controlling the clothes worn by children both education systems would restrict different aspects of personal appearance including jewelry, piercing’s, presentation and “hair should not be brightly dyed or coloured” (Q.D.E, 2003, Moranbah…, p82). The purpose for restricting children’s appearance is to enforce the children as conformists instead of giving them the opportunity to be individuals. Another method of turning children into conformists is to threaten them from a young age with punishments for rebelling against authority. The punishments of Nazi Germany would have been very physical compared to those of modern times, the superior members of Hitler Youth were known to bash those that disobeyed orders. If further disobedience occurred that child would be seen as traitor and be sent to juvenile detention centers were regular atrocities would occur. In the modern education system if a child disobeys an authority figure within the education system they are likely to face embarrassment among there peers, detention or if there is regular disobedience a suspension thus excluding and alienating them.

With so many children being forced to attend such a strict education system during both the Nazi period and today there was a large number of children who did not fit in and were eventually turned into the outcasts of society. Once these children have been alienated from society they soon lost all respect for the culture around them and no longer felt compelled to obey the rules or to fit in. In modern times these people often fall out of school and drop into a life of crime, drugs or isolation. While those already alienated from society for example Jewish, Gypsy or handicapped children were often executed “more than 1.2 million Jewish children, tens of thousands of Gypsy children and thousands of institutionalized handicapped children who were murdered under Nazi rule in Germany and occupied Europe.” (Bьlow, 2002) While the Aryan children alienated from the Nazi education system were lead to a life of crime and gangs. From 1938 the authorities became increasingly concerned about the attitudes and activities of gangs of working class youths who were collectively known as Edelweiss Pirates. “Although most Pirates had no explicit political principles, their everyday experience of encounters with National Socialist authority and regimented work and leisure led them into conflict with the Nazis and into anti-Nazi activity” (Selvaggio, 2001). They participated in a number of anti-Nazi activities including non-attendance from work and school, graffiti, illegal leaflets, arguing with authority figures, industrial sabotage and physical violence against the Nazi Youth. “With slogans such as ‘Down with Hitler’, ‘The OKW (military high command) is lying’, ‘medals for murder’ and ‘Down with Nazi brutality’ etc. However often these inscriptions are removed, within a few days new ones appear on the walls again.” (Selvaggio, 2001). Apart from the instigators the Nazis did not execute large numbers of German youths involved in or sympathetic to the Pirates in the way they executed Jews and Poles. This was partly because the Pirates were “potential workers in armament factories and future soldiers as well as National Socialist ideological concepts such as the healthy stock of German youth is likely to have also played a part in the state’s response” (Selvaggio, 2001). Although what must be remembered is that these people who failed to fit into the education system are not all criminals or loners. The education system has failed some of the greatest minds in the world for example Albert Einstein and Edgar Allen Poe were both expelled from school and Thomas Edison was the bottom of all his classes. Although for the majority of children the education achieved its goals.

The Nazi and modern education both reproduce model citizens for the different types of society. The main qualities that can be seen in both systems are the inability of students to question what is around them and their ability to just accept their surroundings. The main difference between the children of modern and Nazi education is loyalty, children of today display very little loyalty to their government or community around them while the German children displayed an extreme loyalty not only to its country but to its beliefs and values. “Children were exhorted in school to denounce even their own parents for derogatory remarks about Hitler or Nazi ideology,” (Wittenstein, 2002) The main reason for the difference in loyalty is that while the Nazis turned their children into passionately patriotic people the modern education system turns their students into cold, aphetic people that have trouble thinking independently. It is not viable to compare the resulting adults from both education systems because of the repute of the Nazi’s beliefs and values held in modern society. To truly determine the better education system we would have to ignore the beliefs and values of these children as the merit of an education should not be measured by the beliefs of the children but instead of how well they develop physically, mentally, emotionally, morally and socially.

The modern western education system uses similar techniques of those used in the Germany education system during the Nazi period. In both societies the education system has been used to pass down their knowledge, culture and values to the next generation. Using such techniques as propaganda, discrediting opposition, creating scapegoats and turning children into followers has come at the expense of many as thousands of people are eventually alienated from society. Despite using similar techniques the two education systems teach different values and culture to their children and it is these qualities of an education system that make it impossible to determine a superior education. Although in modern times it might be easier to stand up for what you believe in it does not mean that anyone will listen.

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