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Propaedeutics (“pre-education”, preparatory lesson , from the Greek  προ pró 'before' and παιδεύω paideuō 'form') serves as an introduction to the language and methodology of a science . Logic is seen as a general propaedeutic . Derived from this, advanced courses for the upper school level are understood as propaedeutics for academic studies. A propaedeutic seminar at the university provides important basic knowledge for further courses.

Propaedeutics in antiquity, in the Middle Ages and in today's high schools

In ancient times it is understood as a preparation for philosophy. So Plato wants to free the adolescent from “wrong opinions” and “attachments to appearances”. In the Middle Ages, science propaedeutics consisted of teaching the “ seven liberal arts ” ( septem artes liberales ) before studying at a university . Right from the start, grammar schools were schools that lead to university studies. In neo-humanism , grammar school education should transition into research-based learning at the university when the university entrance qualification has been reached. The various reforms of the West German Gymnasiale school from 1972 were expressly and specifically marked by a better ability to study and performed specifically for this purpose the advanced courses a. However, it was precisely under this aspect that considerable deficits in the existing course system were criticized, which led to further changes.

Propaedeutics in Philosophy Today

Propaedeutics in today's philosophy is to be understood as an introduction to philosophical thinking.

Science propaedeutics

Science propaedeutics is the introduction to scientific ways of thinking and working, to methods of gaining knowledge and, in general, to epistemology and theories of science .

Science propaedeutics in class

Science propaedeutics, understood as the initiation of scientific procedures, is a compulsory component of teaching, especially in upper secondary level at all schools that lead to higher education entrance qualification. It does not necessarily mean that schoolchildren should already do science independently (for example, as in the ideal form of “ Jugend forscht ”), but that they only get an initial, exemplary insight into scientific working methods. At the same time, this includes dealing with the limits of a certain methodological approach or general scientific work.

Science propaedeutic is also not to be confused with the scientific orientation of the teaching content, which of course must reflect the state of knowledge of the sciences, but not in the comprehensive and differentiated way that occurs in university lectures. There is also a misunderstanding when advanced courses aim to anticipate the course content of the basic course as thoroughly as possible. B. History courses devote six months exclusively to the Punic Wars.

From the current perspective, various competencies belong to the ability to study:

  • content-related: professional knowledge of all kinds (which exactly is discussed extremely controversially in society)
  • methodical-formal: science-related media and methodological skills as well as working techniques, differentiation skills, etc.
  • social: responsibility, ability to cooperate and communicate, etc.
  • Personal: expressiveness, commitment to rationality, dispositions such as work discipline, willingness to learn, independence, perseverance, accuracy, etc.

Education in the secondary level , these skills must be systematically developed. How this should be done in the task fields, subjects and learning areas is the task of general didactics and specialist didactics .


Lessons should be oriented towards science propaedeutic (in all secondary areas) because

  • the Abitur entitles the holder to attend a university where scientific working methods are applied and expanded;
  • it should give the students the opportunity to orientate themselves in our world shaped by the sciences (contribution to personal development, help in determining one's own position);
  • This shows the working methods with which the different sciences work and gain knowledge (correct citation, source selection and analysis, hypothesis formation, problem-solving methods, methods of data acquisition and evaluation, observing, measuring, comparing, experimenting, questioning, interpreting, etc. );
  • the students so the methodology z. B. the scientific gain in knowledge with other methods of knowledge gain (e.g. humanities, mathematical, philosophical but also the naive gain in knowledge "I perceive it that way, so it is so ...") should compare;
  • the students should also be able to understand the limitations of scientific statements and working methods (e.g. "Electron microscopy could not explain the phenomenon of selectively permeable membranes"), d. H. we are only able to approach the “truth”, but can never reach it completely (cf. falsification in Karl Popper ). Concepts, methods and theories are like spotlights that illuminate reality in a section and an angle, but not fully grasp it.

Science stagings

Science stagings (Beilecke, Messner, Weskamp 2014) are a way of implementing propaedeutic science learning in upper secondary school. Pupils immerse themselves in the culture of science, in its forms of communication and work. The concept takes up the two basic concerns of the university, namely research and teaching. Schools that stage science enable learners to become researchers themselves and to get to know or design academic forms of communication themselves. Examples:

  • Two teachers publish the anthology bioethical case studies with students .
  • The German and Art conferences develop lectures for schoolchildren so that there is more time for creative work.
  • A team of colleagues conducts scientific colloquia with students on Hans Staden, a traveler to Brazil, and the reformer Philipp Melanchthon.
  • A teacher founds a research club for chemistry and cooperates with the North Hessian student research center.
  • A cross-school team of teachers and professors from the University of Kassel have set themselves the task of working with students on the topic of “Local Politics and Participation in Media Democracy” both in school and on one afternoon a week at the university.
  • A team of teachers develops the so-called “competence subject” for the introductory phase of the upper secondary school, in which, linked to interdisciplinary content, scientific research, reading, writing and rhetoric are learned.
  • Teachers work with their students on the past of their place of residence in historical archives.

See also


  • Wolfgang Griese : Science propaedeutics in upper secondary school . M-1-Verlag, Oldenburg 1983, ISBN 3-921904-10-2 (Dissertation University of Oldenburg 1983, 306 pages).
  • Werner Habel : Science Propaedeutics. Studies on grammar school education theory of the 19th and 20th centuries. Böhlau, Cologne et al. 1990, ISBN 3-412-19589-8 (habilitation thesis Universität Dortmund 1990, 237 pages).
  • Friedrich Rost : Propaedeutics. In: Dieter Lenzen (Ed.): Basic pedagogical concepts. Volume 2: Youth Certificate (= Rowohlt's Encyclopedia. Volume 488). 6th edition. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2001, ISBN 3-499-55488-7 , pp. 1281-1285.
  • François Beilecke, Rudolf Messner, Ralf Weskamp (eds.). Stage science. Perspectives of scientific learning for upper secondary school. Klinkhardt, Bad Heilbrunn 2014, ISBN 978-3-7815-1963-3 .

Web links

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