Does school actually teach the children something

Ten things that are better in school today

Annoying compulsory schooling, far too much learning material and a rigid and strict system - there is a lot of ranting about school. But if you take a closer look at the school "from the past", you will see a lot with completely different eyes. We wrote down ten things that will definitely go better for you today

1. Compulsory schooling

"I don't know why you have to go to school anyway." - A sentence that likes to fall out of anger. Today, many perceive compulsory schooling primarily as an annoying compulsion. The introduction at the time was a real achievement that gave many children access to education in the first place. In earlier times it was by no means a matter of course to send one's own children to school; many parents lacked the financial means for this. Often the children were also permanently scheduled as workers - instead of going to school, they had to help their parents with the harvest or with the household, for example.

2. Reputation and support

Closely related to the first point: Many parents saw neither the need nor the point in sending their children to school. Or they lacked the means and knowledge to be able to support their children in the best possible way. If you have parents today who take your school education very seriously, keep reminding you to study and keep an eye on your homework, this may often be annoying for you - but of course there was and is not so much support.

3. Choice of subjects

Reading, writing, arithmetic, religion and also a lot of singing: for a long time the range of subjects at school was very limited. Later came, inter alia. Physical exercise and housekeeping added. However, this was still a long way from the broad educational opportunities available today - basic subjects and electives, AGs and Co., which are open to all students, were previously unimaginable.

4. Equipment

It is obvious that there were no laptops, tablets or whiteboards back then. But apart from modern technology, many things were uncomfortably Spartan at the time. Rigid wooden benches and tables, on which you had to sit upright and straight, with your feet parallel and your hands on the tables, created a much stricter atmosphere.
Around 100 years ago, instead of exercise books, there were initially small chalkboards that the students wiped out over and over again. Then later they wrote with quills and dipped it in ink. Instead of the heating that is common today, there was often only one stove that heated the large classroom - and whoever sat far away from the stove had to shiver.

5. Style of teaching

In general, the lessons were designed to impart knowledge to the students: the teacher lectured and explained that the students followed his explanations and commands. Today, on the other hand, you need to think and act much more independently: You can and should independently think and learn, try out and develop and test your own ideas.
It used to be less about individual learning and development than about diligence, obedience and discipline. Only those who were called were allowed to speak, and then the answer had to be given while standing. Whispering, whispering or calling in was immediately punished - so there would have been no chat with the person sitting next to you back then. Ideally, everything should be done in time and on command earlier. Anyone who found it difficult to do so suffered the consequences.

6. Penalties and sanctions

Perhaps your grandparents told you about their experiences: Back then, corporal punishment was still common. Up until the 20th century, "disobedient" students were hit on the fingers or on the palms of the hands with a cane or ruler. Quite a few students had bad stories to tell - for example, when they had to cut the sticks themselves before the punishment or the wounds had not healed at all when the next beating followed. In Bavaria, corporal punishment wasn't officially banned until the 1980s - so the infamous corporal punishment wasn't that long ago.

7. Class size

When we speak of "large classes" today, we usually mean classes with a little more than 30 students. In the past, there were often up to 100 students in a classroom - students of all ages. The age-group learning as we know it today was only introduced later. Before that, a teacher taught students of all ages at very different levels in a single room.

8. Teaching role

In the past, the teacher was primarily an authority figure who was supposed to "teach" the students knowledge. Today teachers do something completely different: They are (learning) advisors, educators and confidants. Instead of "setting up" learning material for you, they want to encourage you to find out as much as possible for yourself, to find your own (learning) path and to train all the necessary skills for your later (professional) life, from self-confidence to the ability to criticize.

9. Gender roles

Female teachers were not even allowed until the 1860s. For a long time there were also fixed gender roles for students. While the boys were practicing arithmetic and spatial studies, for example, and were supposed to get in shape for military service through physical training, the girls learned manual labor and home economics in order to be able to run the household.

10. Opportunities and perspectives

In the past, school education should primarily have a practical benefit and prepare students for their intended roles. The wide range of subjects available today may sometimes seem too comprehensive and not specific enough to you - but it also opens up a lot more possibilities for you. You can choose from a wide variety of areas, do vocational training or opt for an academic career. And you can have a completely different job than your parents - that was also less common in the past.

Sources: Based on:

"School then and now: A little journey through time - from whipping stick to cuddle education" by Ulrike Miriam Bausch, Unicum Abi, and today

"Lessons 100 years ago", Medienwerkstatt Wissenskarten,