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.

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