Monday, June 17, 2013

German Education Today

Some time ago I was notified of this article (in German) that bemoans the situation in German universities:
Universities today are a hostile environment for thinkers.
This is an arresting opening line, but the author, Klaus P. Hansen, bemoans the demise of thought in German universities because they are trying to imitate American universities through what is known as the Bologna process (which comes out of meetings held in Bologna that called for all European universities to adopt standards and programs based on American universities):
Previously, before Bologna and excellence initiatives, almost all professors were intellectuals. Today they are bureaucrats, mangers, international figures, competitors, and moderators, who woo the favor of the public.

Most of my European colleagues that I have spoken with abominate the Bologna process. Imitating American universities, whose methods are usually seen as second rate, includes imitating their vices, including competition, giving up learning something in depth, and an emphasis on empiricism.

Hansen notes the increase in anthologies, which he sees as problematic:
These anthologies in the meantime make up the lion's share of the academic book market, but real paradigm changes have never been encountered in specialized essays or anthologies, rather they are made through real books, and also through monographs, which are the work of individual intellectuals. Simply put: progress in knowledge is made only through book readers and book writers.
I might quibble with this or that in his article, but he has some interesting points worth considering. If you read German, you might find it worth your while to read the whole thing.