Letters to the editor

Jürgen Rose and his “Trio infernale”

When you hear the last message about the election of a new German Federal President with the name of F. W. Steinmeier mentioned, we have to think of Jürgen Rose’s wording of the “Trio Infernale”, namely that Mrs von der Leyen, Mr Gauck and Mr Steinmeier are striving for the lead in Europe and for a “military-fed new German power policy”. That would mean that the German Armed Forces, a purely defensive army according to the “Grundgesetz” (Basic Law), is to be deployed everywhere in the guise of security policy and also to wage war?
It is fitting that Mr Steinmeier reports that he will not let somebody to order him to be quiet in this office, which should be a purely representative one, so he doesn’t want to be a “figurehead” but will continue to contribute his political views.

Gisela und Ingo Kersten

(Translation Current Concerns)

Family in the German Democratic Republic, GDR

In Current Concerns No 26/27 (5 December 2016, page 16), I found a very nice and stimulating article, but I was also somewhat irritated by it. I found it nice because value and importance of the family for education and life in general were described here, irritating because the impression was created that the German Democratic Republic (GDR), unlike Western Germany then and now, was a true family shelter.
This impression, if it is not based on a misunderstanding on my part, can only be a part of truth. And it would certainly be a mistake, if somebody would have even thought that the protection of the family was a real concern of the GDR policy. It was more a power-political concession.
I am writing as a person who has passed his first 9 years in the GDR and who, for the following 30 years until the end of this state, has been in constant contact with the kinship, and who often went to see them. It is true that the family in the GDR was not exposed to the breaches existing in the West in the sixties and seventies, and finally, to this day. But there were other breaches, the great desire of the state to exert influence on the children, even on the babies, and to deprive them as early as possible from the influence of the family; this is not just a prejudice.
For my father, it was one of the reasons to leave the GDR when he saw his little son proudly tying the blue pioneer necktie around his neck [a sign of the future socialist].
A 68-generation movement like in the West was not needed, socialism was already in power, and it did not tolerate any opposition. It is certainly true that in the GDR man was understood as a social being from birth, but a declared committment to the family cannot be deducted from that fact; seen through the glasses of the GDR leaders, one must rather understand that the child is to be educated by the broad socialist community, and not by the bourgeois family, which Karl Marx has already mocked about in the Communist Manifesto, not to mention his own way of life.
The fact that the family survived better in the GDR than in the West was not only due to the mostly opposition-free political climate, but above all to the fact that the GDR leadership, despite its own ideology, had not completely lost its mind: different from the student movement in the West, it had to take responsibility for the supply of the population, otherwise it simply would have lost its power base. For this reason, apart from the extensively existing anti-family socialist educational measures, the family also had to be preserved in a certain framework because of its productive social function. The Chinese cultural revolutionaries have shown what can happen otherwise: the economic decline.This preservation of the family was above all a basis for the then developing opposition movement, which – irony of the history – finally led to the end of the GDR. If the quoted co-founder of the “Neeues Forum” and Minister in the Transitional Government, Modrow, expressed his apprehension about the anti-authoritarian ideas of the Frankfurt School and its followers, it was no longer an expression of “the GDR”. But it was exactly this citizens‘ movement which – by the help of the family and ecclesiastical backbone – finally buried the GDR socialism.
In my experience, the solid survival of the family in the GDR is the expression of the natural opposition of the people to the socialist practice. I find this supplement important, in order that an historically wrong impression would not be created.

Christian Fischer, Cologne

(Translation Current Concerns)

Editor’s note: The above letter to the editor is an important addition to the contributions in the issue No 27 of our newspaper, because neither the editors nor the authors share the opinion that the problems on which the author of the letter to the editor is writing, did not exist. On the other hand, in the so-called West, we have to ask ourselves how the sometimes violent criticism of the family policy in the former GDR matches with the fact that in today’s “West” we ignore the importance of family to such an extent that it equals a negation of human nature.

 “Competence orientation” and decline of education systems in OECD countries

According to the “Foundations for Curriculum 21”, the proven Swiss education system is to be shifted to OECD’s “competence orientation” (definition Wei­nert) (www.lehrplan.ch/sites/default/files/Grundlagenbericht.pdf).
Established in 1961, the OECD is seeking to open up the global education market with the “competence orientation/-control” and the “self-guided learning”. This global market will lead to a reduction of national sovereignty of the states and by 2017 generate more than 6,000 billion US dollars in sales (computers, tablets, software, ready-to-use teaching units, test batteries, etc.) for the global education companies.
The US reforms and new curricula in the mid-1960s led to a decline in education, which affected in particular the weaker pupils. In the 1970s, the world’s largest educational experiment with 100,000 pupils and 1 billion dollars was conducted to find the best way to promote the weaker pupils. Although all the elite universities were involved, only “direct teaching” (class teaching) through a praxis-teacher fulfilled the specified improvement goals in all subjects. Nonetheless, the failed educational methods were financially preferred. This is why the low US education level has never recovered.
The introduction of “individualised”, “self-controlled” learning methods with “learning companions” and the comprehensive school led to declining achievements in Great Britain in the 1980s. In 1993, the Labour Party’s Guru held his own party responsible for decades of failure in school education and the mediation of moral values as well as the abandoning of the weaker pupils.
In 1990, a national curriculum including “competence orientation” and “comprehensive school” was introduced in Finland. It was intended to move away from the existing high-performance school system to become “more contemporary”. Thanks to the aftermath of the old school system, Finland had top positions in the Pisa results until 2006. However, when the majority of the qualified teachers had been replaced by newly trained “learning companions”, the “model country” literally fell behind with Pisa in 2009 and lost more than 25 points, which corresponds to an entire academic year. In the meantime, Finland has turned away from the comprehensive school reforms and runs special needs schools again.
In 2000, New Zealand introduced a new curriculum with “competence orientation” based on the model of Great Britain. Since 2002 the Pisa results of New Zealand are in free fall. While 47 per cent of the 12-year-olds were still capable of performing simple multiplications in 2001, the figure was only 37 per cent in 2009!
The tried and tested Swiss educational system is not to be buried past the people!

Peter Aebersold, Zurich

(Translation Current Concerns)