Why should we see 3 idiots

The hour of idiots

1. The purpose of education

There really are a lot of boring things in this world, like political talk shows and the European Community, but even those things are a thriller against what's coming now: education.

People who have not accidentally become parents, teachers or educational politicians switch to this topic. People who engage in educational debates like to talk about themselves and what they think are problems - another purpose seldom emerges. Education debates are a little bit like school and university studies themselves. Or has visiting these facilities really helped you? Just.

Yes, if we had learned something decent, we could put the lid on and talk about something funny. But unfortunately that is not possible, not only because of the Pisa study and the constant OECD alarm in matters of education, but also because the question of what education should actually bring has not been clarified. What do we waste at least a fifth of our lifetime on? Is it all for free?

To answer this question, let's turn to a subject that, according to the Pisa study, is not doing well: physics, the thing with the laws of nature, whole numbers and funny experiments. Today we are learning the law of buoyancy.

On the one hand, there is the law of dynamic lift, which is practical because, among other things, you can use it to make airplanes fly. That’s spectacular. But we don't want to take off. It's enough for us if we don't drown. That's why we're looking at the law of static buoyancy, which also fits better with the culture and the country. Statics, that means something like stationary, constant, unmoved. What is this law useful for? It explains how to stay afloat. Whoever masters this law can even swim on its basis. This need not be. Something floats - or floats - on top of a liquid when it is lighter than the liquid it is displacing. We have already learned an important thing with this, and there is also the first donkey bridge so that we can remember that. If you don't want to drown, you shouldn't make yourself too difficult. That's easy to say, for sure. Isn't that information and education ballast everywhere? How can you not go down there? Quite simply: The law of static buoyancy also teaches us that a body whose specific weight is greater than that of water cannot swim, whereas a body that forms a sufficiently large cavity remains on top.

We now remember the cavity. The cavity keeps afloat. The cave swims at the top. That doesn't happen by itself. For years you have to fill your cavity with things that are light enough, for example gaseous substances such as hot air. It's easy to make and doesn't cost a lot. The production of this hot air is the job of the education system. It carries hollow heads upwards. It ensures that hollow heads get buoyancy.

2. Why we are getting more and more stupid (and why)

With hot air it goes all the way to the top. Buoyancy and education - thinkers have long been concerned with this. Good old Theodor W. Adorno, for example, wrote a book with the beautiful title "Theory of Half-Education" more than 50 years ago. The work can be roughly summarized as follows: In industrial society, many rise, and through training that fulfills a very specific purpose. Education and training are still persistently confused today. But what if the well-trained, the climber, now also has to prove himself socially? You are an expert. But are you also socially acceptable? Half-education is what Adorno finds in most of this new class: additional equipment that is added to specialist knowledge. A specialist idiot with a little education, more precisely someone who has mastered the so-called educational canon.

Educational canon, that sounds great, but it's not much. In fact, it means nothing more and nothing less than what is absolutely necessary for social survival in a culture without being seen as a complete idiot. This half-education is never critically questioned. You do what everyone does. How far things stand can be seen everywhere: What TV presenters, models and actors wear, you want to have; chic is what those you know have. You can read what is in the "Spiegel" bestseller list. None of this is much, it is imitation, reproduced taste, copied education that one appropriates. But at least: You at least pretend to be. A look at popular media culture shows that this is yesterday's news. Today, at the "Perfect Celebrity Dinner", the private television precarious does not even learn what cutlery could be useful for. And applause is guaranteed to all who publicly celebrate their narrowness.

Programs in which adults are questioned in front of an audience to determine whether they have mastered the basic school knowledge of children are very popular. A hit in this genre is the show hosted by Cordula Stratmann "Every child knows that!" The very first sentence the host said on the show was, "We're all getting stupid and stupid with each other." Hooray! - shouted the audience like crazy. The educated citizen dreads it. Admittedly: stupid, but authentic is a perspective that really doesn't have to inspire you. But it also shows what all those think of education who are considered to be particularly in need of education. The sociological German has developed the beautiful term "educationally distant layers" for this, people who also live far from knowledge. This class seems to be very comfortable. The real problems with the new uneducation are people who are permanently employed and look forward to a bleak future from their mid-40s. Are these fools supposed to pay my pension? Or maybe the little idiots with baseball caps and a Nintendo look that come after? Does the stupid triumph?

Who knows - what is certain is that when it comes to education, some are always worried about the other. It is true that there is social imbalance. The children of educated people are more likely to become educated people than children of uneducated Stratmann fans. But no social engineer has managed to change that so far, not even Karl Lauterbach, the active Rhinelander who previously went through talk shows as a health expert. He has replaced his favorite word "two-class medicine" with "two-class education". Anyone reading Lauterbach has the impression that a somehow capitalistic and sinister, deeply unpleasant force promotes the stupid.

Only one thing helps in the fight against the demon: You have to standardize the schools, adapt the material so that those who do not want to come along can also come. It is fair if the performance level goes down - then the high school diploma numbers are right again. A workers' education association ballet from the late 19th century dances can-can in Lauterbach's head. The struggle for fair access to education was a thing of the past - and it was right. But the great-great-grandchildren are no longer interested. They know better than the Lauterbachs that the old formula - more education is more prosperity - no longer works like this today. It was always just a promise of a chance, with no guarantee.

Are the so-called stupid people maybe not that stupid? Have you long since figured out that more school does not necessarily mean more career, money, prosperity, reputation and happiness? Who's going on with the hot air? Who is the hollow head?

3. Dead chickens

The basis of what we value about education is already a skewed construct. Almost exactly 500 years ago, there are no exact sources, the London politician and functionary Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of King James I, said the beautiful sentence "Knowledge is power". Francis Bacon, born in 1561, grew up in a milieu in which you wouldn't really say that. Following the example of the Hellenistic thinkers and philosophers, education was a vehicle for social validation that was reserved for the higher classes and the clergy. Education, that was not useful, that did not lead to anything, but was only useful, so to speak, for the user himself. This way of looking at education has been used since ancient times. That was the end of bacon. "Knowledge is power" - that was a pretty interesting sentence for those in power. In the 17th century, new, central planning regimes emerged: What we now call the modern state, including administration and laws, became increasingly clear. Society became predictable. The breeding ground for industrial capitalism was laid in the economy. Knowledge is power - that means above all one thing: Those who wanted to have influence and command over others had to acquire purpose-oriented knowledge. Education was no longer a personal matter, a tool that made it easier to face the vagaries of life, but a concrete, goal-oriented purpose. One had to commit to this one educational purpose. You had to become an expert, someone who focused on one thing.

That can be eye-catching. Sir Francis Bacon, for example, died of pneumonia a good three decades after his legendary sentence while trying to preserve dead chickens by stuffing them with snow. Purely purpose-oriented action without ifs and buts demands its price. On the one hand, it is right to stuff dead chickens with snow to keep them fresh longer. On the other hand, you should dress warmly and drink something hot every now and then. If you only focus on one thing because your plan is so great, it is easy to get cold.

4. The return of old Fritz

What does this have to do with the Bologna Process, the major European university reform project? A whole lot. The Bologna Process also focuses on one purpose, ostensibly more practical orientation in teaching and research at universities. And it's also about preserving, about making it durable. The old soup chicken that is supposed to be stuffed in the process is industrialism. Science managers, association officials, politicians and education experts - legions of theorists in the EU - have been creating clear and uniform rules for studies in the community since the late 1990s. Ironically, the people who only know economic and scientific practice from administration now claim that they are finally getting down to earth in education. This is not entirely free of humor.

From the point of view of behavioral researchers, there should be something to it. It is claimed, for example, that the Bologna Process - shorter studies, standardization of educational content and supposedly "uniform performance records" - would bring more qualified specialists to the economy. Really? That is interesting. In 1790, during the early phase of industrialization, one could have seen a certain sense in this project, whether one wanted to or not. But at a time when innovation and prosperity depend on the ability of an economy that does not rely on reproduction and mass, on unity and equality, but on diversity and brains? This is called a knowledge society, and this society is subject to the laws of dynamic lift. Three years of study instead of four - that means in this case: it goes backwards faster. The cavity is not filled with hot air, but with nitrous oxide. Bologna turns universities into educational factories in which hollow heads are manufactured with high manufacturing precision. Universities are now becoming what schools have long been. The world owes the school as a training facility to the famous Prussian King Friedrich I I, allegedly a great man who in the 18th century laid the foundations for a school in which a strict plan and a uniform educational goal were established. The promotion of the uniformity of knowledge takes precedence over the promotion of talent. The system became a big export hit.

The American educator John Taylor Gatto has described the reasons for the triumphant advance of this model in industrialism as follows: The system aims to produce "mediocre sharpness of mind in order to cripple the inner life, to deny the students appreciable leadership qualities and to obedient and unfinished To guarantee citizens ", in short," to make the common people 'controllable' ". You can still see for yourself how successful the system was and is everywhere in the country.

But do we really have too little average, too little predictable adults? Is there a lack of standards or reproducible knowledge? Or maybe more innovative, creative solutions that bring new business and prosperity? Do we have too little static buoyancy? Or is there simply a lack of mental dynamism? And, very importantly, don't you have better chances on the job market with a Bologna degree?

We'll see. The curricula for the studies are no newer, fresher, more practice-oriented than their predecessors. You just pretend. The promise to be recognized more easily as a firm practitioner in companies with a Bologna degree is therefore often not fulfilled. And then? Well, it doesn't really matter. In terms of good industrialist mindset, the worst that can happen is that there is a lot of semi-skilled workforce - to choose from and who can easily be dictated their price. We already know the game. There are clear rules in this game, people who think and act independently are not allowed to play. Knowledge is power. There was no mention of freedom, progress, quality.

5. Education and mobility

So that should lead to the knowledge society? Prussian mania for equality, machine thinking? Prussia would not be a bad choice, provided you choose the right Prussia. We have a suggestion. For almost 200 years, the German education system has on the one hand brutally trained and malformed, produced technical idiots and cowardly subjects, but also, and precisely at the universities, cultivated an ideal that has nothing to do with Bologna. This ideal should benefit people for a lifetime. It does not follow the superstition that a human life can be planned in the same way as the making of loafers or bag soups. Education without a goal, but general education, a kind of all-wheel drive for the slopes of life. That sounds more like a knowledge society in which quick and intelligent decisions are needed, decisions that are original and precisely tailored instead of pre-assembled and reproducible by any idiot.

Wilhelm von Humboldt's ideal of education offers all of this. You have to defend this useful cause today, you have to justify the formula that makes it possible when you enter the knowledge society. That's how bizarre the present is. Humboldt's ideal of education consists in the end in itself of learning, i.e. in what we today would call learning for learning and learning for life. That is anything but l'art pour l'art. It makes you mobile, instead of one-way streets, the student learns to deal with intersections and curves. General education, that's behind it, is something different from a standardized educational canon. It is what modern business economists refer to as "management of uncertainty". People who do not allow themselves to be blown away by changes or - in the case of an unforeseen course of the road - stand stupid at the intersection without knowing where to go.

Wilhelm von Humboldt, who was born in Potsdam in 1767, brother of the famous natural scientist Alexander, wrote a remarkable draft in 1792 for what concerns us today: Do we want the same education for everyone, uniformity - or do we want knowledge that is useful to the individual ? Humboldt's work bears the meaningful name "Ideas for an attempt to determine the limits of the effectiveness of the state". He writes: "The real purpose of man, not that which the changing inclination, but which the eternally unchangeable reason prescribes for him - is the highest and most proportional formation of his forces into a whole. For this formation freedom is the first and indispensable condition. " Only that, writes Humboldt further, safeguards the "diversity" that we would call diversity today and which, for the father of education, is the "highest good" "which society gives (...)". "Uniform causes have uniform effects. The more the state contributes, the more similar is not only everything that works, but also everything that works." And those who support this, writes Humboldt, "are suspected, and not wrongly, of misunderstanding humanity and wanting to turn people into machines".

Education therefore serves the development and freedom of man, not his adaptation to the rapidly changing needs of the people who want to dispose of him. That was as clear as it is today 200 years ago. Humboldt lived on the threshold of that industrial society that wants to "turn people into machines". The unreasonable who want this are still not extinct. Unfortunately.

6. Education incest

Two years ago, the Viennese philosophy professor Konrad Paul Liessmann published a book that was written against this zeitgeist. It's called "Theory of Uneducation". Theodor W. Adorno was still half-educated 50 years earlier. We are already further, says Liessmann.

Knowledge society? Where, please, he asks.Purpose-Oriented Education Leads to a Better Life? Let's see, he suggests: "Education was the utopia of the petty bourgeoisie (...), the hope of the working class (...), the vehicle with which the lower classes, women, outsiders, the disabled and oppressed minorities are emancipated and integrated Education is a sought-after resource in the struggle for the location of the information society, education is the means by which prejudice, discrimination, unemployment, hunger, AIDS, inhumanity and genocide are prevented, the challenges of the future are met and, at the same time, children are made happy Precisely because none of this is possible, there is hardly any other area that has been and is so much lied to as in education policy. " As always, when there is a public lie today, the liars practice self-deception with statistics, numbers, comparisons and studies. This is what intimidates most people. The trick still works with the miracle drug education, which produces social advancement and prosperity as a side effect - in the insecure middle class, in which every debate in the country takes place. The so-called educational distant, on the other hand, leaves this story cold anyway. Because they have long since passed away from the illusion of the majority of society that good participation and parrying actually lead to reward. You know better.

The real stupid people are those who haven't learned this yet. It is the army of the average for whom such mechanistic worldviews are as if made. You need such illusions. Bachelor, master, point system - that stands for the Bologna Process, but with Liessmann you can say it even more briefly. "It stands for machine thinking, for the idea that what works with a machine must also work in your head. This is the great final battle of industrialism: Education as a whole is industrialized, standardized. There we have modularization of studies', which obey the pattern of functionally differentiated production halls. The introduction of the so-called ECTS points (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System), which are supposed to measure the performance of a student. A norm that is derived in detail from industrial norms. Nothing interferes as much as the individual deviation. That is classic machine thinking. Anyone who has a mind of their own has lost nothing. "

But the thing seems to have real advantages for the average person. Existing knowledge can be reproduced more quickly and easily in such a system. You just distribute what you know more efficiently, more industrially. It's just stupid, says Liessmann, that you can't assess new knowledge with existing standards and norms. "So wherever there are real deficits today, in innovation, with new problem solutions, such a system has to fail. Such a system knows no change, no progress. It only recognizes what is there. What does not exist, in the sense of the word von: neu - that doesn't work. It's very simple. That is the hour of the technical idiot, "says Liessmann. The future should therefore belong to these special hollow bodies. To put it in a positive light, they form a large, closed family in which the brothers and sisters do it spiritually with one another - and only with one another. Educational incest. This leads to debility. Is that what we want It's what we get if we stay what we are.

So maybe Cordula Stratmann is right after all. We are all getting dumber and dumber. Applause? The consequences of these developments reach far beyond the university. It can hardly be doubted that social leaders will be recruited from these ranks. The educational incest will have consequences for everyone, Liessmann fears: "That leads to the opposite of an open society. We need it, not because it is nice, but because it sharpens the ability to differentiate. That is the ability with which one can Innovations and better solutions. "

Synchronization, on the other hand, has nothing in mind. Wanting to know means wanting to understand. For Liessmann, ignorance does not mean stupidity or a lack of information. It is the renunciation of "even wanting to understand". Looks familiar to us. That brings us to the most important main subjects of the knowledge society, the core of the reform, if there is one: trust and confidence. Want to understand others and other things. It's difficult and not easy, but it prevents you from becoming a mere floating debris.

7. Sham education

Anyone who stops understanding is actually already at the end. Now, however, after 200 years of educational drama on German soil, this does not only apply to those who seek their salvation on the average and in the norm of knowledge. But also for those who think that one just has to preserve the traditions very well. Which one? The tradition of Persil notes? Testimonials that say something about a person's abilities - for a lifetime? Something like that leads to what we love in Germany: bogus education.

Let's talk about graduation. This beautiful facility has been understood as general access to higher educational consecrations since the beginning of the 19th century. It is well known that those who "only" have a high school diploma actually have nothing. So what's the point? The Dresden education researcher Andrae Wolter gives the reasons: "The Abitur was based on the old corporate ideal of education - and it is not about training. It was an enclave, and it has become smaller and smaller. Whoever says education today actually means education.

The acquisition of knowledge is there for the job. "Of course, it makes sense to ask: for lifelong learning? Everyone uses this catchphrase today, a sure sign that hardly anyone takes it seriously. What could it mean? Ideally that the desire to understand never stops. Normally, that the acquisition of knowledge does not end with the Abitur or the diploma examination at the university. Logical, we say. Really? But why is every form of educational policy concentrated on the young? Why stand Education policy only focuses on people aged up to 25? An interesting contradiction.

Dealing with education in all age groups, social classes and regardless of "previous education" says a lot about the statics of a social system. Eight years ago, says Wolter, a global study was carried out on the subject of the mobility of educational programs. How open is an education system? Can everyone learn what they want? Do the systems exchange? Do you learn for life, so to speak? "Germany, Austria and Japan were at the bottom of the table," says Wolter. So no surprise. "But it is precisely by looking at the question of the permeability of the education system that you can clearly see whether education politicians are really serious about the issue," says the education researcher.

Why should an adult who has been earning his own bread and butter for years but doesn't have a high school diploma should not be allowed to study properly? Nothing would be given to these people - they would have to take their exams just like their 20-year-old fellow students. But they are not allowed because they are not allowed to - in the land of educational panics and, after all, order must prevail. Otherwise there would be nothing.

The Abitur is actually nothing. Or does someone really believe that countries or cities with high numbers of high school graduates have, as it were, the most educated population? Then why do prosperity and innovative capacity not correlate with these numbers? Wolter knows about the conceit. For years he has been supporting educated and willing adults without a high school diploma in the absurd and time-consuming bureaucratic process of attaining their personal university entrance qualification.

In Germany this is a matter of the country - and therefore doubly difficult. Berlin is considered progressive because adults are allowed to study on probation, even without a high school diploma. They are under observation, who take all the exams like other students. Bavaria is building massive walls against lifelong learning for everyone. In 2005, the attempt by the former Baden-Württemberg Prime Minister Erwin Teufel to take up a philosophy degree in Munich even without a high school diploma came to the farce. Months passed in which the Ludwig Maximilians University, otherwise in love with the elite, tested the qualifications of the long-term head of the state until the university management agreed to the act of grace of admission - and put it that way. Teufel had already found a place at the Jesuit college. There they stand now, the legions of the educational battle, here the extremely conservative Persil certificate keepers, there the Bologna bureaucrats. Together they form a seemingly impenetrable felt. Under these conditions, Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan (CDU) has the theoretical merit of at least thinking out loud about opening up universities. After all, at the end of March this year, the former Teufel employee ensured that a total of 25 million euros would be distributed for up to 3,000 "young people who have proven themselves in their careers". Scholarships for people who want to study without a high school diploma. Three thousand - that's not even one percent of new students a year. With small change for small mind - it is obvious that nothing should come of it.

Most universities don't want to either. No matter what Humboldt, demographic development, they prefer to talk about themselves. "The fact is that the admission capacities of German universities and colleges have practically been reached. We are working hard at the limit of what is possible. And the peak has not yet been reached," Andrae reckons Wolter forward. In the land of poets and thinkers there is no more than a meager share for education in the OECD comparison of 5.2 percent of the gross domestic product (2004). Just hot air.

8. Free swimmers

That is not enough for everyone. Christoph Markschies is a theologian and church historian, but he knows the laws of buoyancy well. The President of the Humboldt University in Berlin, when he took over his office some time ago, made himself unpopular with some representatives of the classic Abitur education because he thinks "that the Abitur alone cannot determine whether someone is for a Studies are suitable. For me, it's about experience and interest. " Lifelong learning is still a phrase, he says. But that can be changed: "Not only study up to 25 or senior studies, but also in between. Continuing education is the central topic. Let's finally start looking at the experienced." In 2010 the Hum-boldt University celebrates its 200th anniversary. It was once considered a major reform university, at which social origin played no role. Markschies: "For us today that means: Everyone is welcome. We don't want any age restrictions. We don't want young students or senior students, we only want people who want to know something. People with quality."

His chances of getting the stench out of his robes are good. "Let's put it soberly: The figures on the educational misery have been around for a long time. But now, for the first time, there is really an awareness of the dramatic backwardness of the German education system because you can see how other countries are doing it," says Markschies. The key words are independence and personal responsibility: "Today, politics allocates students to us. In other countries, the principle has long been that learners and teachers choose each other. Professors must also have the right to choose their students. And nobody will ask: How Was that your Abitur? But: What talents are there, what interests, what drive? "

In physics, it is not far from drive to lift. Fly and swim or drift and fall. These are the questions that are at stake. To do this, you have to want to change something after you have understood something. How beautiful is the staircase that Christoph Markschies climbs to his office every day? "The philosophers have always interpreted the world in different ways. But what matters is to change it."

Bravo, Marx, sit down. One. Let the hollow heads drift.
In the meantime we are doing the free swimmer. -