This is by way of a codicil to my post of last week, “A well-meant Wake-Up Call to Britain — which failed” (7 January) in which I came to realize that, in engineering, Germany was always ahead of Britain even though the industrial revolution happened to have occurred here due to a fortuitous set of circumstances.
I’ve subsequently learned that, in fact, Germany already had free state schools for children in the 1780s, 100 years before we did in England. And they weren’t biased against science as our were. Strictly speaking these German schools were only in Prussia — just one of the many independent principalities that amalgamated during the following century into Germany. But also I learned, most of those states already had universities — so Germany was much better endowed than England was, with two only at the beginning of the industrial revolution.
This probably also accounts for Germany’s ‘perennial student’. Scholars moving fairly frequently between universities and studying different subjects before choosing their vocation and final degree in their late 20s ir early 30s. I don’t know how much this still applies these days. Perhaps a German reader will enlighten us.