Humanistic high school

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Melanchthon Gymnasium, founded in Nuremberg in 1526, is one of the oldest humanistic gymnasiums in the German-speaking area.

The humanistic grammar school is a grammar school in which the classical languages Latin and ancient Greek are taught as the basis of European culture as part of a comprehensive education . The humanistic grammar schools in Germany are often traditional schools with roots in Renaissance humanism . In addition to traditional language lessons , they usually also offer modern foreign languages and often different branches of school.


The humanistic grammar school derives its name from the educational idea of the new humanistic educational reformers around Wilhelm von Humboldt in the course of the Prussian reforms . In Bavaria , Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer developed similar reform concepts, in Austria the university professor for ancient languages Hermann Bonitz and the philosopher Franz Serafin Exner initiated a corresponding educational reform in 1848/1849 . The ancient languages Latin and Greek dominated the lesson table as “humaniora” , alongside mathematics and “historical” subjects, German with only two to three hours per week. There was also a little French and physics / natural history . In public opinion, graduates of the humanistic grammar school have long been part of the educational elite .

Development in Germany

Before World War II

In Prussia, only the humanistic grammar school led to an Abitur until 1900 , which entitles graduates to all fields of study , while the Abitur at Realgymnasien (modern language, partly with Latin) and Oberrealschulen ( mathematical - scientific ) only granted restricted access. The criticism of this came from two directions, the representatives of the technical and natural sciences as well as the advocates of a stronger patriotic education. Until the December conference in 1890 there was long controversy about sticking to the Latin essay, for which translation into Latin and exercises in style were necessary.

In the humanistic grammar schools of the 20th century, the number of ancient languages ​​was noticeably reduced (by a quarter as early as 1890/1892, especially in favor of German), but the high reputation of this elitist orientation remained, even if its share decreased . Shortly before the Second World War , only about twelve percent of all high schools were humanistic.

Federal Republic of Germany until 1990

After the end of the war in 1945, the humanistic grammar schools in West Germany experienced a new boom, among other things to counter the National Socialist educational ideology. For example, ancient language branches were set up at grammar schools , offering English as a second or even first foreign language, but Latin and ancient Greek as the first to third foreign language. Nevertheless, the subject of Ancient Greek soon had to show a sharp decline. Since the reform of the upper school in 1972, the pupils were largely able to choose their subjects themselves after the 10th grade, which caused the old languages ​​to suffer greatly.

German Democratic Republic (GDR)

Contrary to the situation in West Germany, the humanistic grammar school had no place in the socialist educational system of the GDR . The term “humanistic” was used for an all-round education of all people, that is, also literarily oriented, but without reference to ancient languages. Of course there were also Latin classes. Alternatively, there was the Ecclesiastical Proseminar Naumburg (Saale) , the Ecclesiastical Oberseminar Potsdam-Hermannswerder and the Norbertinum Magdeburg , where an old-language-humanistic Abitur could be taken.

Since 1990

Although the conventional grammar school types have been obsolete since the reform of the upper level (from 1972) , the term “humanistic” is used for grammar schools that offer a fifth grade with Latin lessons and ancient Greek as a third foreign language. In this context, there is also talk of the “old-language grammar school”.

In 2014, the press reported on the trend of declining student numbers.


The humanistic grammar school is offered as a humanistic branch in some grammar schools and aims to provide a general humanistic education, which is not to be understood as a basic education in all directions. The focus is on ancient languages ​​such as Latin, which is usually offered from the 3rd grade (7th grade), and Ancient Greek, which is offered from the 5th grade (9th grade). This grammar school prepares for a degree in archeology or theology, for example.


In the education system in Switzerland there are many canton schools or grammar schools that teach the classical languages Latin and ancient Greek . According to the statistics of the Swiss Association of Philologists from 2012/13, around 13,900 or 18.5% of pupils receive lessons in the classical languages.

“Humanistic” is often understood to mean an expanded understanding of education in which general education is relevant to personality and in which experiences, insights and values ​​are incorporated.

Gymnasium on Münsterplatz (Basel)

The grammar school on Münsterplatz in Basel was built in 1589 from the former church Latin school of the 11th century. It is the oldest grammar school in the city of Basel. From 1930 to 1997 it was called the Humanistic Gymnasium (HG) and is still committed to the humanistic tradition today:

In addition to the focus subject Philosophy, Education and Psychology (PPP), the school offers the language focus subjects Latin, Greek, Spanish and now also English (only in combination with the International Baccalaureate Program).

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: humanistic grammar school  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Start page at, accessed on November 12, 2018
  2. "There is also humanistic education without Latin and Greek" on, published on April 18, 2017, accessed on November 12, 2018
  3. ^ Franziska Bolz: School education: why learn Latin and ancient Greek at all? In: THE WORLD . April 1, 2014 ( [accessed July 29, 2018]).
  4. ^ Theo Wirth: Who is learning Latin or ancient Greek in Switzerland? The first nationwide survey. In: Swiss Association of Philologists SAV / ASPC / ASFC, March 2013, accessed on July 29, 2018 .
  5. Almost every fifth person learns Latin in high school . Latin and ancient Greek are much more popular among high school students than previously thought. However, there is a large discrepancy between the cantons. In: Tamedia AG (Ed.): 20 minutes . Zurich September 21, 2014 ( [accessed July 29, 2018]).
  6. ^ High school on Münsterplatz: A humanistic high school - a wide range of offers. Education Department of the Canton of Basel-Stadt, accessed on July 29, 2018 .
  7. Gymnasium on Münsterplatz. Committed to the humanistic tradition. Basel-Stadt Education Department, accessed on July 29, 2018 .