Walter Panknin (1898 -1977) and His Family CH6 Part 18

Biene’s High School Curriculum

Biene wrote this post.

We read works of world literature, first in German and then in English and French, and in the last three years, a few excerpts in Latin. We would discuss, debate and talk about the great themes which moved and influenced man’s quest for the meaning and purpose of life. I loved our philosophical discussions and would always actively participate.  Although our teachers were authoritarian in many respects, they encouraged free thinking.  We were expected and allowed to have our ideas and opinions as long as we could back them up with solid arguments to prove their validity. We were fortunate to have “Mecki” as our classroom teacher.  He eloquently expressed deep thoughts and guided us through difficult discussions.   He was a great model.

Our school emphasized language arts, while science-related subjects were neglected.  Our physics teacher did not expect much of us.  He would spend most of his lessons telling us interesting and entertaining anecdotes about his life and war experiences.  Maybe he did not want to waste his efforts teaching science to girls who would never pursue a career in that field.  This was still the pervasive opinion at that time.  Although I was not scientifically inclined, I once delivered an amazing technical drawing of a Wankel motor.  That was my only success in science, and I earned the respect of my teacher. I have to admit remorsefully that my brother had helped me with it.

Biology was another neglected subject.  Our squeamish elderly teacher was supposed to provide sex education.  She would show us a film of a pregnant mare who miraculously suddenly had a newborn foal beside her.  The actual birthing scenes were left out.  We were left in the dark. Another substitute teacher took over the topic by telling us a Greek legend of a pot that eventually finds its matching lid.  It sounded all Greek to us, and we were quite bewildered. Finally, we searched for answers in real life, not at school.

6 Replies to “Walter Panknin (1898 -1977) and His Family CH6 Part 18”

  1. I am pleasantly surprised that free thinking was supported by your teachers.
    A pity though that physics where neglected, it has so much use in daily life.
    We had good biology teachers, but sex education was not part of it until grade 12, by when we all knew it from somewhere else. I must say, I would have preferred to learn about that topic from my mother. At least I knew what was happening, when I got my first period, whereas my mother didn’t and thought she was fatally ill, poor mom.

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  2. Hallo Peter, ein interessanter Bericht. Ab und zu sieht man bei uns im Straßenverkehr auch noch ein Auto mit Wankelmotor. Im Audi NSU Ro 80 ist so einer verbaut. Irgendwie schade, dass sich dieser Motor nicht durchgesetzt hat. Liebe Grüße und ein schönes Wochenende nach Kanada. Wolfgang

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  3. The literature curriculum sounds amazing! Reading books in three or four different languages must have reinforced understanding not only the languages, but also the books. I’d have loved that. Instead we had a truly terrible language curriculum and read only in English. Our discussions were not very deep even in English.

    The lack of a science curriculum is disappointing, but likely typical of those sexist times every where in the world.

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  4. A rich education in many ways, but it is a great pity about the views of women and science, especially for girls who would have had a keen interest or aptitude. Your last paragraph made me laugh.

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  5. Haha! I can imagine. Hindi movies a few decades back were squeamish about displays of love between two adults, and would cut to scenes of flowers and bees humming around them as soon as the temperature started building up. Quite a let down for teenagers 🙂

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