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Showing posts from November, 2008

Who is Goethe?

We are living in the land of Goethe and Schiller and more recently Heinrich Böll and Günter Grass – both worthy Nobel Laureates in Literature. But there is no official body saying that a child should have been introduced to certain authors by a certain stage.

Recently an Irish mother told me how her daughter's German class full of 17-year olds, was asked who Goethe was and 75% of them have never heard of him. I am not even shocked anymore by the ignorance of pupils who selected German as their main subject.

After ten years at school, my daughter had read one poem by Goethe and one play by Schiller. Pandering to the needs of the youth, some teachers try to read modern German texts that in many cases disappear again after a few years. A nation of ignoramuses is waiting to be let loose on the world.

When I was getting worked up about the ignorance about Goethe – my daughter was in the tenth grade and sixty percent of young people never get beyond that grade, my husband admitted that he …