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Cook, Alice Hanson / Bavarian trade union youth

Recommendation on educational program,   pp. 20-21 PDF (1.0 MB)

Page 20

- 20 -
The chief educational method in the clubs is the use of
lectures which are frequently followed by a question period or
occasionally by forums where different points of view are presented.
Although not unknown, panels, forums, and discussions are rather
infrequent because they are not considered of as sufficiently
dependable educational value as the lecture method. However, youth
shop chairmen and group chairmen criticize lectures for not
attracting the interest of their groups. If the factory assemblies
were not semi-compulsory, only an interested few would attend.
Educational work in the shops and clubs stands in greatest
need of program assistance. Approaches other than lectures, greater
variety in subject matter and in presentation, and more participation
of the groups should be developed. Specifically, shop chairmen
require some help in conducting their meetings and in planning a
varied two-hour program.
The discussion method as practiced in the United States would be
.of value not only in leadership meetings, where we used it with
considerable success, but also in the general trade union youth
groups. Since the discussion method in Germany is conceived in differe
terms, the introduction of a new method will necessarily require some
time until its nature is understood and some experience with it has
been acquired.  In Germany, discussion virtually amounts to a debate
of fully-developed positions rather than a give-and-take pooling of
ideas in a common search for a solution to a problem.
The German phrases for participating in a discussion suggest
this method (man nimmt Stellung zu einem Problem - one takes a
position on a problem). Consequently, those who are somewhat
uncertain as to which position to take hesitate to express themselves
for fear that they may not be right or may be unable to defend a
tentative position. This is particularly true in youth groups.
German youth is still in a negative stage where they have rejected
old standards without having yet formulated new ones. They have been
so isolated from developments outside of Germany, and find so little
in Germany which is praiseworthy that they feel very unsure and
tentative in all their judgements. Many of them are staying
consciously on the sidelines, observing but not participating.
The American-discussion method is made to order for this state of
mind and for the experience of German youth.
The trade union Correspondence School (Briefschule), with
headquarters in Frankfurt, is being promoted in a number of youth
groups as an educational program. It calls for discussion circles
as one method of using the material sent by correspondence. This

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