The Thinking 

Teachers in T-Shirts and in Ties

November 4, 2012


P. SMITH writes:

Your recent articles on clothing piqued my interest. I’m an American who’s been living in Germany for many years. My wife and I have put four children through the excellent Bavarian school system.

I’m attaching two photographs which summarize the change in attitudes that has occurred in the West in the past century. The newer photo may be familiar from the recent strike in Chicago. The older photo, taken in 1925, is of the teaching staff at a Gymnasium (college prep high school) in Osnabrueck, in northwestern Germany. The painting behind the teachers, The Announcement of the Peace of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years’ War, was destroyed by a bombing raid in 1942. On the wall at the right are the names of the school’s teachers and pupils who had been killed in the First World War.

No doubt the men in the photo seem to be from another world: Teutonic, uptight and outdated. Bear in mind however that even today it is not uncommon for the teaching staff at a Gymnasium to be more learned than the faculty at many U.S. colleges, and its teenage graduates seem to me to be better educated than most US liberal arts graduates. According to recent numbers, for a Gymnasium the total cost per pupil — for teachers, administration, service personnel, building maintenance and supplies — is EUR 6900 per year, or about $9,000, so it’s not as if they’re pampering the children. Today’s staff is not as dignified as the gentlemen in the photo, but it does have a professional demeanor, expressed in clothing, competence and behavior, that perhaps is not always found at a modern Chicago high school.

Teachers on strike in Chicago


—– Comments —–

Kevin M. writes:

When I was working in the Middle East, I knew a number of English expatriates. One couple told me they spent quite a lot of money to have their two daughters educated in Scotland. Much as the English still harbor a bias against the Scots, they said, few English would hesitate to have their children educated in Scotland. The Scots public school system has a reputation for excellence, whereas the English public school system is as worthless as our own. It is rife with feminists, left-wing liberal ideologues and, basically, stupid teachers. Children educated in Scotland far outperform their English-educated peers.

When I asked what the big difference was, they told me the Scots do not tolerate nonsense. Discipline is always maintained, and frivolous PC lessons are almost unheard of.

Terry Morris writes:

“Teachers on Strike in Chicago” looks more like “Insane Escaped from Asylum that is the Chicago Public School System.”

Charlie K. writes:

Those Gymnasium teachers look like they mean business. I don’t think I would have come to class unprepared.

Jessica writes:

All of the teachers in the foreground of the Chicago picture are visibly overweight.

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