Education has taken a new form in every civilization it has blessed. John Dewey, a famed philosopher of modern teaching, identifies education as a societal schooling of the populace, based on principles, “founded upon the intrinsic activities and needs (including original instincts and acquired habits) of the given individual to be educated.” Each unique civilization cultivates its personalized education system to protect itself and develop its intentions. The goal of education is to best prepare a nation’s populace to sustain that nation; each spectrum of education, ranging between the athleticism of ancient Sparta, the liberal intellectualism of America, and the specialization of Germany, synergizes a unique educational system based on the necessities of the environment and ethos of the population to meet this goal.
Spartans’ education emphasizes military supremacy. Rebellious territories and a weak agricultural sector allows King Lycurgus to create the first recognized educational system in the 9th century BC. His goal is to create indomitable warriors who would be unsurpassable in physical athleticism, unmatchable in military tenacity, and endlessly loyal to Sparta. In addition to Lycurgus’s objectives, Sparta place value on its fraternity with absolute obedience, valorous courage, and noble self sacrifice. This Spartan zeitgeist was immortalized by Tyrtseus’s principled thoughts, “It is a noble thing to be in the front of the battle and die bravely fighting for one’s country.” The diehard camaraderie of the nation is the most central aspect of the civilization and that lesson taught throughout the Spartan’s education. This nation of soldiers was unified by the threat of obliteration and was forged into an unstoppable regional power through its education.
The methods behind Spartan military supremacy are seen through their aggressive practices. The trials of war began at birth; prospective baby Spartans were analyzed by councils of soldiers. Babies with any imperfection were killed off or groomed for slavery, so they would not contaminate the race. Upon boys reaching the age of seven they were put in public barracks, where they would train continuously with other boys in the methods of war. This is the Spartan school. Obedience would be infused into the recruit through whips and beatings. Spartan fraternity was sculpted from the unified purpose of their shared education. Self sufficiency was impressed in young Spartans; food was deliberately made scarce so the youth would be encouraged to steal their own sustenance. As children matured into adults they would organize into military legions and receive education the use of heavy weapons. When the boys reach age twenty they are declared Irenes. They would be promoted to the status of soldiers and spend their careers training with regular raids on the Helots, enslaved farmers, and wars with conflicting city states. The children’s education straightforwardly trains them to be warriors. The indomitable warriors of Spartan education are the end product of Lycurgus’s dream. Future civilizations would learn from the Spartans original educational model.
In America, everyone is educated so they may achieve any lifestyle. Since its foundation America has been greatly concerned with maintaining equal rights for all valued citizens. As the country has modernized American unyielding desire for uniformly equal rights enabled education for the entire population. The American educational system builds on this characteristic with core belief that the United States is a meritocracy. Americans call this concept, “rugged individualism.” They believe people must succeed or fail based solely on their own merits. This belief is reflected in the liberal education model in America. Regardless of personal inclinations or future plans all students are legally required to be schooled equally in a middle-of the-road education that prepares students a wide variety of careers. Academic valedictorians and would-be dropouts sit side by side in the idealized American school.
The methodologies of America’s liberal education reflect its stone soup approach. There are several distinct levels of education, each with the objective of enforcing a broad education upon every citizen. In this manner every child is given equal opportunities. Children generally go to preprimary schools at age three where they are taught how to be educated. Subsequent tiers of education, elementary school and high school, build a foundation of skills which are applicable skills across a range of possible jobs. After high school students are given the option to continue schooling or start a career. The American ethos allows young adults to pursue whatever tract of life they want regardless of their action’s financial affordability. Each citizen has equal rights and therefore decides their own education. The merit of each student determines their success. The American education system is just framework which fosters student’s merit-based growth. While success or failure is in the hands of American students other modern countries give far fewer options to their residents.
The German educational model establishes a middle ground between the extremes of the Spartan athleticism and American liberalism. Since the Prussians dominated German culture nationalism has directed the German zeitgeist and it has become an underlying influence to German education. Learning revolves around the state; by building the best civility the German society is guarantees its own survival. Compulsory education forces children to become useful, they are not permitted from abstaining from their unwritten cultural duties, Germans feel, “one may choose among schools, but for most it is unthinkable that children do not go to school.” Everyone learns to maximize their utility. By having the best collective nation the Germans endeavor to have the best collective human capital.
German schools are more strict than their American counterparts, but they are less war oriented than the Spartans. German education begins at age six when kids are enrolled in Grundschule to learn basic language and math skills. During this level of their education secondary school options are compiled by overseeing adults and algorithms. Second tier of German schooling is branched into four separate paths; Hauptschule, Gesamtschule, Realschule, or Gymnasium. Each type of education unique; schools like the Hauptschule direct students towards manual labor, the Gesamtschule and the Realschule train students for more complex and intellectual jobs, and the Gymnasium educates the innovators, engineers, and scientists of Germany. In all of these specialized schools there is a strong emphasize on internships and on the job training to teach student life skills while preparing them for their careers. The end result of the German education system is a diverse work force full of specialized labors who collaborate to do what is best for the country. This model limits options, but maximizes potential.
The perceived needs and underlying values of these three societies were met by their respective educations. Sparta thought warriors were needed and prized fraternity, so soldiers were educated. America values equal rights and rugged individualism and gave its citizens an education that combines meritocracy with rugged individualism. The Germans wanted the best worker on the assembly line and best experts fostering the next generation; their multi-tier educational system is a manifestation of these ideals. Each of these systems of education made their countries powerful and respected by creating a more adaptable population. The immediate importance of an nationwide education is an empowered citizenry; however, the more significant reward comes from spreading that education at every opportunity to better lives of everyone on Earth. From this altruism comes joy and prosperity.