Crocker Snow Reports From Germany; Academic Freedom in the U.S. and Germany
Greetings from West Germany. This is Crocker said I was speaking from the studios of Radio Deutsch of our cologne in the city where the world famous Gothic cathedral. With. This week a discussion with two students and two professors about some significant differences between university study in West Germany and the United States. The American students have studied in universities in both countries. The professors one German one American have taught in both first Monteagle questions the students both Fulbright scholars now studying at Cologne University Anthony Dean and Peter Brown both graduated from Yale. Dean is now finishing his first year of study of West German law after completing Yale Law School in 1965. Brown is in his third year here working towards his Ph.D. in history. Now Bob Monteagle a former Fulbright scholar himself.
All right gentlemen. In what ways has your study been enriched by your experiences with the German Academy. First and Sonny Dean there's been an inevitable broadening process when you come in contact with a different culture different patterns of behavior and different ways of thinking about problems in the law it's it's particular and interesting because I find in discussions with my German colleagues that on particular points of law or particular cases German and American legal systems have worked out ways of dealing with problems often the same problems and coming to a very equivalent quibble and results. But often by very diverse processes of reasoning and I think it's very valuable to simply be exposed to different ways of thinking about the same problems which you encounter at home all the time. All right Peter what about the German university as a community. To what
extent do you feel yourself a part of it both academically and socially. Well one of the major things which should be pointed out about the differences between an American University and a German university is that the German university has not operated on a campus system. The American classical American college with dormitories on the campus with all of the facilities which the students need near to the university itself were essential here. You've got a self-contained inorganic separate community devoted to two academic pursuits is not found in Germany the German university is most similar to an American university in a large city for example. This is this University of New York or the University of the city of New York and perhaps the University of Chicago where essentially most of the students live either in the city itself far distant from the university or may commute from as far as 30
miles away every day. Consequently you don't have the the unity of spirit frankly that you find at most American universities. And. Consequently this puts of a much greater burden on the individual concerned to establish his own social contacts and develop his own life within the German academic community persay another thing which contributes to the major difference between a German university and American University is the lack of contact between the professor and his students. The German university has organized what's called a seminar basis. Every full professor or most full professors have their own institute devoted to a fairly narrow area within their field and the relationship between these institutes and the rest of the university is often very tenuous. You find that. The German university is a research institution to a far
greater degree than you find in American University and consequently the gulf between the student body and the teaching body is considerably greater Consequently this. This tends to lead to a greater separation between not only the student and the university but the students from each other because the student will work in a particular institution or institute and will develop his contacts within this narrow Institute rather than having a an easy opportunity to develop contacts throughout the full breadth of the university. Another question would you say that the American University is too paternalistic in comparison with the German. That is does the American college or university perhaps supervise its students to their detriment in that it does not allow them enough independence. I'm thinking in terms of diversification compulsory class attendance and the like. And I think in balance from what I've seen so far we would have to
say a good word in favor of the American system. The German system is based on what is called here the principle of academic freedom which means just that in its fullest sense there are. Practically no formal requirements as as far as course distribution goes such as most universities have in the states and there is a lack of structure of leading from introductory courses to middle level courses and finally into culminating with a specialization in a major field. And as a result students find themselves in particular at the beginning in a quandary just taking courses but having little idea of the particular direction they're also led into a specialized field much earlier without the benefit of a broad. Liberal education.
All right Peter what is your stand on this question about the paternalism in the American Academy as compared with that of the German university system. Well frankly this is a very difficult question to answer because it's a comparison between 19 universities in Germany and over 2500 educational establishments in the United States. Consequently you're going to find widely different standards and in the United States and see question of where you want to take your comparison. What I think I'd like to do is take make a comparison between the larger state universities in the United States and the better private institutions and compare them with the German institutions. Frankly the question of paternalism is something which I think is is disabused in the United States. There is a there is a difference between a paternalistic system which demands certain moral requirements of a student and a well-organized teaching institution which realizes that it has a certain obligation to the student to provide him with a cohesive education.
And would you like to elaborate on that. The major roles that we had to obey while we were at our particular institution Yale was that we had to obey the state and municipal laws. We had to. Well behaved as reasonable individuals and freshmen were not allowed to have kegs of beer in their room. The paternalism of an American university frankly is is an advantage because when it's intelligently applied it reflects the the knowledge and wisdom of people who have already gained their education. Applying this to the problem of teaching students and this is frankly something that the German university does not do. You are responsible for frankly for filling the gaps in the gaps can be very large. There is no concept of providing a a really cohesive plan of study of providing for example the core courses which are necessary for your training in any particular field and you will find that for example for the
first time. To my knowledge since the Second World War. Reasonably broad Corson say the history of the United States is being taught at the University of Cologne. Prior to that time historians were responsible for their education in this particular field of history on their own. And you found an institution which is grown up in the German university system which you really don't find in American universities. That is something which is called the repartee Tauren the repartee tour as a private tutor who runs a cram course outside of the university. Normally of almost every movie theater in Cologne is rented by one or another of these private tutors to run courses to fill the gaps to provide the comprehensive academic training which is necessary to pass the examinations. And this frankly reflects in my opinion the fact that the German university has not faced its responsibility of being a teaching teaching institution rather than being a primarily a
research institution. Anthony Dean do you have anything to add to that. I think perhaps we should put in a good word for what we often dislike at home which is the practice of having the students take exams after every semester in the courses they've been taking here in Germany of course the practice is that you take one normal enormous exam in your major field when you feel you've completed your studies Normally after a minimum of four years. The exam system that we have has the advantage of forcing you to attend classes fairly regularly and as a minimum reading the required material for the course here. There is no such compulsion until the last couple of years when you face the prospect of the large exam and often this is filled in by the repartee tour. You have been listening to Anthony Dean and Peter Brown American Fulbright scholars now studying in Germany. Both received their bachelor of arts degrees at
Yale previously. The two students discussed some fundamental differences between university life in Germany and America. Now the same subject as seen by two experienced university professors Dr. Owen a Koenig a German is the dean of the sociology department at Cologne University in one thousand fifty nine sixty and 64 65. He was a Fulbright professor at the University of California Berkeley. Arthur never caught an American professor of English literature is now the Fulbright professor at Cowen University. After many years teaching at Northwestern Monteagle opens the discussion with the two professors. Professor Koenig you have just heard Anthony Dean and Peter Brown two American Fulbright scholars now studying here in Germany. Both men were somewhat critical of the degree of academic freedom in Germany. What are your thoughts on this. I mean a very bad position because I'm in full agreement with the two gentlemen's I've
just been in. Think the difference between the American university system and the German university system is that the mag universe is take much more care for their students personal relations between the professor and the student of the one hand and between students on the other hand is the most essential fact that the universities in the United States. In your you see especially in Germany the professors are more or less of a coward so they don't have direct contacts with the students anymore. All they have is a contact with a student through the help of an assistant. But you know as this is you always get direct news and there was a direct touch with them and therefore I personally like very much in the United States. It's always an extremely stimulating experience because I feel that the teacher learns at least as
much while teaching another student zines a student with a new man you meet you meet a new world and these contacts I guess to be useful for the development of the blood vessel. Like so much of the students. All of this is missing and I think it was missed by our new maids implying that the German university is much more concerned with research than was teaching at a university in Germany is also much more concerned with the elite and not so much with every student. And he I think imag universities have a better way of dealing even with big masses. Because if you succeed in getting them into personal contact with professors then you can give them what has been called a cohesive education and that only and has an education.
Yes but certain couldn't to say that this notion of academician Freiheit is intended for the super student as it were for the elite and that he can follow through on this. The heat has as much freedom in his studies as he needs. I think he has this liberty but the elite is just a very small group. Mikey I would like to make another point. As you just remarked I've been teaching in both countries at the beginning I was sometimes shocked by their mag system because I thought it was too severe. The students reckon Tode for attendance is the reading requirements examination midterm examination and the final exam elation. To me at the beginning seemed to be a very hard job. On the other hand deal of being on the German system does not give enough examination and so I think something in-between should be followed between the very severe magnet system and the very loose German system or adopt another can I should like to address this question to
you. To what extent do you find that the notion of academe a surefire hike affects the work of the German students with whom you have been working. When I first arrived in Germany there was a conference of a Fulbright appointee is both the teaching appointee is and the research people that I go to is beg one of the first things that we were told by a German professor of English literature University of Bonn was that the term academic freedom. Was applicable somewhat different from what we were accustomed to in the United States that it did mean academic freedom for the professor because he could announce almost any course that he wanted to give without respect to the way in which it might integrate where the other course is being
given in the department were not respected. Vary the general preparation in the field but even more of it applied to the student who was completely free academically. Do you think that this notion of academia should Freiheit has turned into academia shofar with height academic academic laziness I'm afraid in some cases it happens. I have been giving two courses in the English seminar English department as we would say in the United States. One seminar on and the other a series of lectures and for later on. And I remember this experience very vividly I'll never forget it. In Germany most universities at least it is necessary for the students to prepare a list of the courses that they are taking
handed to have this list signed by their professors before the semester is over they can begin at almost any time and the end will be with The Last Lecture in the series. I was giving a series of lectures on the early American drama before the First World War and after the third lecture I think it was. I went out of the classroom and was waylaid by a young man who was waiting outside the door with a sheet of paper and a pen and he shoved it at me and I said What do you want. And he said I'd like you to sinus. And I looked down and I said ready a lot me to sign. He pointed to a certain course with a certain name but it wasn't mine. It wasn't my course. He hadn't been to the lecture. But during he wanted to get my signature urn testifying to the fact that he had
been attending lectures and scores. Where are rights an extreme case but jurors are very aware of this system can work I understand all that that is not going to be followed there next semester at the university can exert our faculty DRS system of thing yourselves. This German system does not work anymore as it used to work in the past as proved by one fact that all of Germany all universities all these different faculties are now discussing if we should not introduce new forms of examinations and new forms of composer. Here everything is still open. Decisions have been taken Yes but I am sure that in the next future a very important changes will occur in the German university especially with regard to the image of fiat. It's not only that we need more personnel because humans you know the United States you are in a favorite situation you have so many professors much more
then we will ever have here. On the other hand we also need a change of organization and I think that even with a few professors we could succeed in getting a better education. It Wead a new organization. So I should like to ask you another question namely what advantage is there to the German universities. So far the balance of the argument has been for the United States for the American system of education. Certainly there is traditionally methods of the pedagogic methods of learning in the German university that are very valuable and I still practiced. But I think that you can lead in a general way to this question because the situation is very different from one university to the other. If you take over a lot of famous universities in Germany like I did back all Bonn or other ones you will find the same parent as mentioned by one of the students.
Is it spirit of unity and by Disha but towards the new universities. And he I will not quote any names. You can say that I have no traditions of their own and that the situation in them is much worse than in the other ones. The big universities especially the economic faculties have to be reformed entirely. Doctor another Can't do you have any positive observations about your experiences with the German university so far. When I arrive I have found among the students that I have had a chance to get into fairly close contact with him very in my seminar. Me a desire. Do establish this closer relationship between faculty and student there at the same time the way I have found it a little difficult to overcome where
you are feeling about the barrier and have felt a certain distance and certain formality. But when I've been able to get them to come into my office to discuss what they've been reading and they have papers that they are going to write I have found at least in the majority of cases and a such a desire and such a gratitude to have the opportunity to talk on my man to man or girl demand basis it with a faculty member. I feel that this word paternalism may be applied in different ways. But OK I think there should be more of a fatherly attitudes way say who the faculty member turned the student to even though the student as now presumably reached maturity years most of them at the present time.
That is in the new situation in German universities and has developed since the war with an invasion of thousands and thousands of students. That there are many of them who are not sufficiently mature to go ahead on their own and they feel that way. They want more direction and more advice. If I may speak as a geologist you have to just touch the very important point and perhaps the most important point of the situation in Germany this is a class problem. Simply was situation you could say as a general rule. They had students who were coming from the upper middle classes in the post about situation. This is change the essential we get now students of Lyme's lower middle classes. And if the students in the upper middle classes get enough maturity to know you're
a you cannot say the same for the students from the lower middle classes. They have no experience with like a demi can situations at all and therefore they need a more personal apology I'm completely of your opinion. Unfortunately I think that this problem is not appreciated yet at the real importance in Germany. Aside from paternalism in academic pursuits how do you regard the difference in social athletic structural differences. Is the old college try something only typical of the United States. Dr. Kearney I think Zednik college system is very big for the United States and cannot be repeated for Germany because German universities have started a completely different way. By this does not mean that we could not read some of the chief commands of the imag universities by changing our own and he I think that mutual exchange of professors and students may be very important for the
future. However this is not enough. We should study the question deeper then it has been done so far. For the time being we are trying to change our teaching institutions but we don't know exactly what we are doing and I think we should study it further. The functions of the social functions of the academic institutions then seem purely academic point and is a purely scholarly bind in this field. In Germany people have thought too much on how to teach things they have never thought of how to get people organized to get Matua files studies and this is a question we will have to study in the next years to come. What about the University of Bohun. I suppose both you gentlemen are familiar with their efforts there. This is the newest institution of its kind in Germany a departmental system. Do you think this is going to alleviate the problem Dr never caught.
Right I am not as familiar with the university booking as I would like to be I've read about it in a general way but it does seem to me that it is attempting to make use of some of the principles of the American system that might lead to a desirable result. I might say however that the thing works in both directions I read an article in Time magazine just a few weeks ago on a rather lengthy article on what is happening in several well-established and highly reputed American universities and they are attempting to put much less stress on. Examinations. Class attendance though I think most American universities don't actually take the role or they
check on class attendance and through examinations things eventually. But these universities are attempting to give more independence to the individual student. They are establishing and more independent study courses which are adapted to the individual student. So each country has its contribution to make to the other it seems. Dr. Connie one more question. How would you compare the American and the German student bodies equally Are they equally broad based on not here you can say that you would find good students among the imag students and among the German students. Let's not support the Bible in my eyes as small as a education's ever received. Believe you sleep. That was a moment when they joined the university. And you doctor never got made that remark a little before when you spoke of are do you
experience a sea and glowing when you say that the students are inhibited and Maggs students are never inhibited as you know they don't just walk into your office and keep you busy for hours and hours. But I like it in some way because here you feel that as a professor you have a leader you are a human being you are respected as a human being and you are needed in some way because people ask you questions. Whereas German student he may be excellent but he will as he tends to ask you a personal question. He will never ask you a question for answers regarding his personal life. This never happened to me through about 30 years of academic teaching. Whereas in the United States you will find the students very often asking personal questions and sometimes very delicate questions. I have had Germans didn't ask me such questions already and I've been on only one semester. Busy so they need it and they are ready to accept advice. When you are ready to give it to them very often I am teaching in the United States and calls on family
and marriage for instance. And this of course brings us to Woods in asking should I marry this or that gun here. Of course I'll do instead them I am not the consul. Please go next door. I'm not the guy list. I love so go into another one but the point is the human relations the thousand relations not so much paternalistic relations would look more or less like a stats but purely fully human relations between a grown up man and a young man or girl of the other side. We who can disguise their human problems together with problems of science. You have been listening to a general discussion of some significant differences between university life in Germany and the United States. First to American Fulbright scholars who have studied in universities in both countries and just now Professor online a Koenig a German and Professor Arthur never caught an American. Both of whom have an experience teaching in both countries. This is Crocker
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- APA: Crocker Snow Reports From Germany; Academic Freedom in the U.S. and Germany. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-87pnwd9z