Educational path

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In the German-speaking world, a wide range of people understand educational path to be an individual career with the acquisition of certain skills and abilities for a certain attitude (individual educational path). This path forms the intellectual abilities of the human being towards an ideal (being human, humanity) ( Wilhelm von Humboldt or the neo-humanistic concept of education in classical German philology ). The term educational path refers to the process (the procedure, “being educated”) which serves to achieve a certain status (the state of being “educated”) in order to then organize and self-determined “further” education throughout life .

Whether there is individual education and whether one can get there by a certain route is scientifically fiercely controversial. The dictionaries also have different interpretations available (education: development and shaping of the mental and spiritual capacities of people, education or educational path: synonymous with educational path , there: course of (intellectual) education (DWDS)). But: The term is used in official publications (e.g. Federal Employment Agency). The Prussian reformers in the education and school system already assumed that the individual path would have to be promoted by permanent institutions (institutionally) (schools, universities, further education institutions).

Education through education

The educational path ("After the course of study , academic and seminar-based, grammar school and secondary school education etc.") to this autonomous status of "being educated" has been regularly regulated by the state since the beginning of the 19th century at the latest, or even only after having passed through state (or state-bound) institutions (and usually after a final exam, 1834 leaving, Abitur, Absolutorial, Dimissorial, discharge, maturity , etc. designated exams) to complete (= release or acquit from one " Special relationship of violence ", the student relationship ).

The term “course of education” can no longer be freely interpreted or determined without further ado, because in the first decade of the 21st century it became a legal term used in school law, e.g. For example, the upper level course , the vocational grammar school and the evening grammar school and adult schools (e.g. Bremen adult school , Hessenkolleg ).

The general higher education entrance qualification can also be obtained without (the above-mentioned) educational programs ( non-school leaving examination ).

Education of the heart through the family - education of the mind through pedagogy

The pioneers of the new humanist ideal of education also admitted that adults can also achieve the state of being educated through unusual individual life paths. Characterized by “naturalistic” ideas, it is still predominantly assumed that the toddler is in a tabula rasa situation, that is, a blank slate, so that it is both the development of the heart (by mother and family) and the development of the mind (by teachers and school ) in order to be able to provide fruitful activities in and for the state and society (19th century). This requires organized and systematic preparation, maturation to adulthood (through educational efforts).

Historical development of the "higher" schools

The “humanistic” grammar school as a preliminary stage to the university

The systematic preparation for maturity can also be acquired outside of schools (private lessons, private teachers), but this represents a waste of resources, because at the time of the emergence of the new humanist ideal it was first necessary to compensate for the physical losses (= losses of “good and Blood ”in the Napoleonic wars at the beginning of the 19th century ) through intellectual achievements. This goal required both "gymnastic lessons" (i.e. physical education), but also "aesthetic lessons" (i.e. music, art) and "didactic lessons" (i.e. German, Greek, Latin, mathematics, history "with a little natural history"). This can only be achieved through schools ( grammar schools ) as a preliminary stage to academic education (the crowning glory of maturity development). However, access to academic education in the territories of the old German Empire was dependent on the university - not on the school leaving certificate. Since it was founded in the Middle Ages, the university has made independent (“autonomous”) decisions about access to its facilities. Access was not a problem for the sons of the (civil servant and military) nobility, because the “fees”, accommodation and meals were supported by the father or guardian of the sovereign (or his foundations) (“a self-supplement of the state Ruling apparatus ”). In the second half of the 18th century, the sovereigns made the granting of their services ( scholarships : mainly free meals and other support) dependent on a certificate from the school they had previously attended. Those who did not want to claim any “state benefits” could do without the Matura certificate (later called the maturity certificate in German ). Therefore, the post- Napoleonic states of the German Confederation in 1834 could not make the Matura certificate a prerequisite for university entrance, nor for university exams, but it was a prerequisite for participation in the state examinations (theology-pastor, law judge, medicine-doctor, Philosophy teacher: "so that no inept subjects sneak into the civil service"). As a result, there was no “complete link between university entrance and the Abitur”, as some whitewashed claims are made.

Basically, Humboldt's new humanist concept had already failed with the examination regulations of June 4, 1834 ( Hans-Georg Herrlitz ). The regulations say: "The purpose of this test is to determine whether the high school graduate has attained the level of school education that is required to be able to dedicate himself to the study of a particular scientific subject with benefit and success."

The "realistic" schools

Shortly after Wilhelm von Humboldt's school plans were presented (the grammar school as the only secondary school type), the ideas of an educational counter-movement came into the public eye ( ... in contrast to the purely linguistic and logical (formal) education of grammar schools, real education through acquaintance the objects and processes of nature as well as of real life ) in the establishment of Realschulen (1817), mostly as urban institutions, in which “the mathematical-scientific element came to the fore against the philological-historical element of the grammar schools and at the same time the newer ones Languages ​​were given greater consideration. As these institutions gradually expanded their goals, the Realgymnasien finally no longer stood behind the Gymnasiums in the measure of their scientific achievements; only the direction of the training remained different. In addition, upper secondary schools emerged from the reorganization of the earlier trade schools, which pursued higher goals in the newer languages, in mathematics and in the natural sciences, completely excluding the old languages. "

The new school paths between the two world wars in the 20th century

Even before the First World War , the qualifications of the three full schools (Gymnasium, Realgymnasium and Oberrealschule, with nine grades) were recognized as equivalent (non- full schools were Progymnasium, Realprogymnasium and Realschulen, with six grades, with their school leaving certificate (= "intermediate maturity") for one year of voluntary military service and an officer career was possible). In the mid-1920s, the German Oberschule (curriculum focus on history and civics and natural sciences and mathematics and a foreign language) and the advanced school ( particularly talented pupils from elementary school straight to university ) were added. The first evening schools ( evening grammar schools ) emerged and the gifted test (for those “educated” outside of school) was introduced in 1924.

Overcrowding and recruitment problems in the early 1930s

During and as a result of the First World War, the number of births had decreased considerably; In 1917/18 it was half below the pre-war level. The low-birth cohorts between 1934 and 1936 led to a significant reduction in the number of high school graduates (from over 40,000 to just under 26,000). In addition, there was their declining inclination to study, which can be explained by the uncertainty about the prospects of using an academic degree, by economic reasons that made it impossible to finance the degree and by new career opportunities in the expanding economy and - for male high school graduates - especially in technology-oriented ones Branches of the armed forces. It turned out that hasty state measures that had been implemented in response to the “overcrowding crisis” were reversed: In February 1933, the education ministers of the federal states had reached an agreement according to which high school graduates with “poor grades” advised against studying should be. Anyone who nevertheless studied against this advice was excluded from study funding. The " Law against the Overcrowding of German Schools and Universities " of April 25, 1933, which was passed in April 1933, also pursued the goal of aligning access to university studies with professional needs and energetically restricting it. In December 1933, a general numerus clausus was introduced: of the more than 40,000 high school graduates born in 1934, only 15,000 were to receive permission to study in a university entrance qualification. After the transfer of higher education policy competencies from the Reich Ministry of the Interior to the Reich Ministry of Education (REM), which was newly founded in May 1934 , this strategy was questioned with reference to the risk of a future shortage of young talent in academic professions, which was already becoming apparent at that time. As early as February 1935, the higher education entrance qualification was waived again (even those students who were not granted it in 1934 could subsequently start studying, provided they were classified as "politically reliable").

First educational path: Upper secondary school

This path is a regulated path, structured and organized (elementary school - high school - university): It is the path through school for children and young people ; it is determined by others, because other than the pupils decide on the type (curriculum and material, lesson table ), the duration ( G8 or G9), the location ( school districts , school locations) of the lessons, the subjects and the exams.

The criticism of the schools and especially of those for children and young people is varied (school consists of: "teaching", "evaluating" and "determining", according to "happiness teacher" Ernst Fritz-Schubert ; the students are "object of a measure" in the “pea sorting system” school, talent is confused with “good grades”, according to neurobiologist Gerald Hüther or “schools kill creativity”, according to art professor Sir Ken Robinson ); Pediatrician Remo H. Largo compares the often devastating effect of grades in school lessons with a hunt in which the students are the hares to be hunted, driven by the dogs (the grades) in front of the guns with which the hunters (the teachers) Being able to spare or kill individuals. Proponents, on the other hand, consider the first educational path to be the “straight path from school to college” or for “regular school”, from elementary school to grammar school (or comprehensive school to university; but also through vocational grammar school or earlier Specialized high schools ).

Secondary education: schools for adults

Adult schools with a general university entrance qualification

This second route is also a regulated route, structured and organized (vocational qualification - evening grammar school / college - college, the "race track for late developers"): It is the route via the school for adults (SfE) ; it is also determined by others, because other than the adult students decide on the relevant questions. Since the educational emergency of the early 1960s, teaching and learning have been organized in the same way as in schools for young people; the exams are no different from those in the institutions euphemistically calledmainstream schools ”; it is the exams that lead to secondary school diplomas . According to the resolutions of the KMK, the adult schools include, in particular, the evening grammar schools (also known as evening secondary schools) and institutes for obtaining university entrance qualifications, also known as colleges .

In the past, individual authors also counted the educational efforts with the help of the Funkkolleg and Telekolleg with the corresponding accompanying seminars by the adult education centers as the second of the three ( "canonized" ) educational paths. The definition is difficult for the educational and sociological sciences (“not always very clear”). "A definition that was accepted by all sides" (Renke Suhren) was apparently not yet available in 1980 either. If, before the “discovery” of the third educational path, everything and anything that did not belong to the first educational path was interpreted into the second (“ subsequent completion of an educational offer ”), etc., today it is mostly only understood as adult schools .

Adult schools with subject-specific university entrance qualifications

The transition from certain higher technical schools to the subject- specific higher education entrance qualification (formerly sometimes called “faculty entrance qualification”) can most likely be counted as part of this educational path . In 1964 the Zeit- Hochschulführer wrote: It was suitable for graduates from certain women's technical schools , business schools , higher agricultural schools and, in particular, engineering schools. In general, it was required that the applicant had studied his subject with at least a good overall grade, that he had successfully participated in general subjects and that he was able to submit a positive opinion from the examination board. According to a KMK resolution of July 5, 1962, which lays down general guidelines for the transition from engineering schools to technical universities, particularly recommended graduates from engineering schools can also acquire the full university entrance qualification after an examination (written exam and colloquium). In a Zeit article from 1965, the opinion is even expressed that the 53,000 engineering students could easily replace the missing young people with academic training in the educational emergency. The transition from college graduates to higher education, which has been possible since 1937, especially that of engineering school graduates, is currently still one of the most important forms of second education.

Criticism of the adult schools: No education and no way!

Some authors have already criticized the term “educational path” for completing courses in schools for adults. The number of graduates is so small that the name is euphemistic . In the discussion about the reorganization of the exams for the second (and also the third) educational path, the following figures were determined for 1972: 48 evening grammar schools and 43 colleges would have "produced" 3,240 high school graduates (1.7% of the total number of high school graduates) . It is more of a bottleneck than an educational path, because the numerical importance of the second educational path is in inverse proportion to the jumble of providers, examination opportunities and training courses in this area and to the onslaught and interest in this path. The second education path is clearly not an alternative.

Third educational path: “purpose-free” education, individual preparation

The third educational path “can” also be a regulated path, but then the regulation does not originate from a third party, but from the individual who is trying to obtain education (non-institutionalized, self-determined learning ). This structures and organizes the path in its own way, according to its standards, its own schedule and under its own direction (responsibility). Those striving for education should no longer be an object, but a subject (“ private scholar ”). The only restrictions of this private autonomy are the requirements of the examination regulations (from 1924 to 1984 on the gifted examination for access to universities in general; for individual types of universities also subject-specific e.g. the immaturity examinations or Z-examination (= admission examination) in some countries, especially in Lower Saxony; for the period after 1984, the focus was no longer on determining aptitude, but rather on professional qualifications or promotion of the promotion of professionally qualified people through a university entrance examination ).

After the economic miracle - the educational emergency

Ralf Dahrendorf (1959) in his paper on the second educational path still assumed four educational pathways, the third educational path should be further professional qualifications and the fourth educational path an education "beyond purposes". The discussion that took place in the early 1960s in the area of ​​adult education centers accepted Dahrendorfs third as a commission from the VHS , but saw difficulties with the “purpose-free” education, and after years of disputes finally accepted this path.

Paul Mikat (CDU), Minister of Culture of North Rhine-Westphalia from 1962 to 1966, proposed the creation of a third educational path as part of the political discussion about the "educational catastrophe" ( Georg Picht ) and asked the adult education centers to take this new "path of advancement" to take care of (annual general meeting of the North Rhine-Westphalian adult education centers in 1965). That was very hesitant at first. The basic study programs of the adult education centers in Kassel and Munich should become the basis of an “adult education pathway”. The adult education centers in Duisburg, Hanau, Lauterbach, Nuremberg and Wiesbaden followed. However, the compatibility of preparation for the gifted examination with the tasks of the adult education center was questioned. Nevertheless, there were numerous preparatory courses from 1968 onwards: private schools, a school for adult education in Berlin, the Hessischer Rundfunk radio college , later the Quadriga radio college with some southern German public broadcasters (and support groups from numerous adult education centers and other adult education providers), telekolleg etc. Since the third educational path had no school-based or comparable structured preparation, the gifted test was the only way to prove the degree qualification.

Well-known non-state-controlled ways to prepare for university entrance

For well-known, non-governmental ways to prepare for university entrance, see:

Educational paths in the GDR

Within the German Democratic Republic , which was also founded in 1949, a broad network of training and further education opportunities developed, which led to the Abitur or higher education entrance qualification on the 1st or 2nd educational path or made it possible to study directly or indirectly. From 1946 onwards, pre-vocational training institutions were set up, most of which were transferred to workers 'and farmers' faculties around 1949. Skilled high school students or skilled workers could acquire higher education entrance qualifications at these institutions. In addition to the direct route to university entrance via the Abitur, a number of options have developed over the course of time to study direct, distance learning or evening studies (e.g. special women's studies for working mothers). Here, too, the educational paths were open.

From 1983 onwards there were so-called preliminary courses that prepared skilled workers for university studies. Up until now it was only possible to complete a university degree within the framework of the 2nd educational path if a technical college degree (today Bachelor) was successfully completed in direct or distance learning. The completion of the university studies qualifies for a doctorate (A) and a habilitation (doctorate B). A doctorate could also be carried out alongside the job. Not infrequently there was a scholarship within a scientific aspiration .

Skilled students, mostly top students, were able to go straight to the doctoral phase via a research course after successfully completing their university degree, i.e. without taking a diploma examination .


  • Karl Wagner: evening school, foreign diploma and test for gifted students . In: Ralf Dahrendorf , Heinz-Dietrich Ortlieb (Hrsg.): The second educational path in the social and cultural life of the present . (Quelle & Meyer), Heidelberg 1959, pp. 208–222
  • Karin Storch: The Second Education Path - Opportunity or Illusion . (Fischer Taschenbuch-Verlag), Frankfurt am Main 1974, ISBN 3-436-01709-4
  • Klaus R. Schroeter: Studying without a high school diploma - course and academic success of students without a higher education entrance qualification . (Christian Albrechts University), Kiel 1998
  • Walburga Katharina Freitag: Second and third educational path to university . ( Hans Böckler Foundation ), Working Paper 253, Düsseldorf April 2012 (detailed overview of current or future research projects), (PDF)

Web links

Wiktionary: Education  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ch. (= Christian) Palmer: Education . In: Pedagogical Dictionary , No. 9. In: Allgemeine Schulzeitung , February 9, 1854 (No. 17). (Leske), Darmstadt, column 143, urn : nbn: de: 0111-bbf-spo-2858164 - Textarchiv - Internet Archive
  2. Humanity . In: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon . 4th edition. Volume 8, Verlag des Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1885–1892, p. 785.
  3. Education. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . Retrieved February 10, 2020
  4. Education. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . Retrieved February 10, 2020
  5. Education . In: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon . 4th edition. Volume 2, Verlag des Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1885–1892, p. 947.
  6. E.g. § 42 of the Hessian OAVO (upper level and Abitur ordinance) of July 20, 2009, Official Gazette of the Ministry of Culture 2009, 408, Hessian OAVO 2009
  7. ^ CG (= Carl Georg) Firnhaber: Exams. Matura examination for Württemberg 1811. In: Karl Adolf Schmid: Encyclopedia of the entire education and teaching system . 6th volume. Rudolf Besser, Gotha 1867, pp. 453–504 (455) urn : nbn: de: 0111-bbf-spo-13562741
  8. but Andrä Wolter : From elite education to educational expansion: 200 years of high school diploma (1788–1988) . (BIS-Verlag), Oldenburg 1989, p. 4
  9. Hans-Peter Blossfeld a. a .: Joint core high school diploma - To ensure national educational standards and fair university access - expert opinion . Waxmann, Münster 2011, p. 31
  10. Hans-Georg Herrlitz: University entrance qualification - A problem-historical review of the 18th century . In: Law of Youth and Education (RdJB), (BWV – Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag) Berlin 1989, p. 374
  11. Ludwig von Rönne : The teaching essence of the Prussian state . 2nd volume. Veit & Comp., Berlin 1855, p. 259
  12. Hans Waldeyer: On the development of secondary schools in Prussia in the 18th century to the thirties of the 19th century . In: Klaus L. Hartmann, Friedhelm Nyssen, Hans Waldeyer (eds.): School and State in the 18th and 19th Century - On the Social History of Schools in Germany . (edition Suhrkamp), Frankfurt am Main 1979
  13. ^ Robert Graf Hue de Grais : Handbook of the constitution and administration in Prussia and the German Empire - 21st edition. (Julius Springer), Berlin 1912, § 303 (The higher schools), p. 483
  14. Recognition of the fundamental equivalence of higher educational establishments , decree of November 26, 1900. In: Zentralblatt für die Gesamts Studiumverwaltung [in Prussia] (Centralbl.), 1900 (Verlag von Wilhelm Hertz ) p. 854, Equivalence Decree, urn : nbn: de : 0111-bbf-spo-7482343
  15. Hans Richert : Guidelines for a curriculum of the German high school and the advanced schools . 3rd improved edition. (Weidmannsche Buchhandlung), Berlin 1925
  16. Agreement of the federal states regarding regulation of the access of high school graduates to the universities , Zentralblatt for the entire teaching administration in Prussia, 75th year, Berlin (Weidmannsche Buchhandlung) 1933, 77 urn: nbn: de: 0111-bbf-spo-7822573 KMK-agreement University entrance in 1933
  17. ^ Reichsgesetzblatt , RGBl. I 1933, 225 Overcrowding Act 1933
  18. school mirror. Spiegel Online , August 21, 2012
  19. TED seminar presentation: TED talk online
  20. Mikael Krogerus With timpani and trumpets . In: Bulletin , No. 4/2013 (of Credit Suisse AG) "School", p. 62 f.
  21. “Doppelkopf” talk on Hessischer Rundfunk (hr2-kultur), broadcast on June 13, 2014, podcast available from Hessischer Rundfunk hr2-kultur
  22. Remo H. Largo : Learning is different. Think about education and upbringing from the perspective of the child. Körber Foundation, Hamburg 2010; Piper, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-492-27411-1
  23. Dana Frohwieser, Mike Kühne, Karl Lenz, Andrä Wolter: The somewhat different educational elite : an empirical study on trade union student funding . Julius Klinkhardt, Bad Heilbrunn 2009, ISBN 978-3-7815-1696-0 , p. 97
  24. Evening grammar schools: Decision of 3./8. October 1970;
    Kollegs: Decision of 7./8. July 1965;
    Vocational schools: Decision of March 18, 1970
  25. Dana Frohwieser, Mike Kühne, Karl Lenz. Andrä Wolter: The somewhat different educational elite: an empirical study on trade union student funding . Verlag Julius Klinkhardt, Bad Heilbrunn 2009, ISBN 978-3-7815-1696-0 , p. 97
  26. Second education . In: Renke Suhren: Specialized lexicon of social work . German Association for Public and Private Welfare e. V., 1980, p. 840 f.
  27. Renke Suhren Secondary education? In: Education and Upbringing , 1963, pp. 194–197
  28. so in particular the paperback by Karin Storch , popular in the mid-1970s : The Second Educational Path - Chance or Illusion? Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1974, ISBN 3-436-01709-4
  29. Heinz Kieselack: You use what you have - the engineering schools and the educational emergency . In: Die Zeit , No. 21/1965
  30. Second education . In: Hochschulführer . DIE ZEIT-Bücher, Nannen-Verlag, Hamburg 1964, IV. Academic Dictionary, p. 443
  31. Karin Storch : The Second Education Path, Opportunity or Illusion? (Fischer-Taschenbuch) Frankfurt am Main 1974, p. 79, ISBN 3-436-01709-4
  32. Barbara Degen: Nadelöhr, second educational path . In: Democratic Education , 1975, No. 4, p. 80 ff.
  33. Heinz-Hermann Knostmann: Investigations into the conception of the second educational path and its realization within the framework of the West German educational system . European university publications, series 22, sociology, volume 86. Verlag Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1983, ISBN 3-8204-5303-2 , especially pp. 42–49
  34. ^ The four educational paths of modern society . In: Ralf Dahrendorf , Heinz-Dietrich Ortlieb (Hrsg.): The second educational path in the social and cultural life of the present . Quelle & Meyer, Heidelberg 1959, pp. 37-67
  35. Joachim H. Knoll reports on the initial difficulties : The horizon of the third educational path . In: Adult education at the turning point - The Bochumer Plan as a contribution to the third educational path . (Quelle & Meyer), Heidelberg 1967, p. 7 [9–11]
  36. Horst Siebert : Third educational path - A critical inventory . In: Adult education at the turning point - The Bochumer Plan as a contribution to the third educational path . (Quelle & Meyer), (Heidelberg) (1967), p. 41 f.
  37. Horst Siebert Third path of education - a critical inventory : Third path of education - a critical inventory . In: Adult education at the turning point - The Bochumer Plan as a contribution to the third educational path . (Quelle & Meyer), Heidelberg 1967, p. 41 [49]