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Other German Secondary School Textbooks

  1. Jan 14, 2017 #1
    I would like to know what are the most famous German secondary school textbooks for physics, electronics, or mathematics, during the post WW2 era. In other words, these are textbooks that were used in the Gymnasium, Realschule, or Hauptschule, from c. 1950-1990. Thank you.

    Although my question is about textbooks in Bundesrepublik Deutschland, it would also be good to know which ones were used in the DDR.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 15, 2017 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    I seriously doubt someone can answer this. Teaching plans and with them textbooks are in the responsibility of the states, i.e. the parts that built the F in Federal Republic of Germany. Adding GDR we get 12. Electronics can be excluded for it had been part of physics, maybe not in the GDR. Now we are at 24 with maths and physics, maybe 25. Now school politics and fashion, but mainly politics, caused textbooks to change. I would say at least every decade, probably every five years. This gives us in four decades roughly 8 changes a state. So worst case we are at 200 books. As this has been a conservative upper bound, I estimate the lower bound to be at least 50. Now one could object that different states might have used the same books, even with changing politics. But this is more than compensated by the fact, that at latest every two years students used books with different content, according to their grade - again a factor up to five. And you will have to multiply all this by three, at it certainly differs among the three types of schools you've listed.

    The shortest way to get near an answer would probably be the address of a schoolbook publisher. Unfortunately, the one I know of (and there might have been others) has no English homepage. If you want to write them a letter or give them a call:

    Ernst Klett Verlag GmbH
    Rotebühlstraße 77
    D - 70178 Stuttgart
    Tel. +49 (0)7 11 / 66 72-0
  4. Jan 15, 2017 #3
    Thanks very much for your reply. I had no idea this was so complicated.

    One book I am looking for in particular was, I think, a physics textbook which was used in Baden-Württemberg. The author's name begins with a K and sounds something like Krimsler. I have been unable to track this one down.

    Vielen Dank!
  5. Jan 15, 2017 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    In this case the chances are high that I named the correct publisher, if it was a schoolbook. But that they are connected to single authors is new to me.
  6. Jan 15, 2017 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    Here's what I've found and which is more than a schoolbook for a year or two, rather some kind of encyclopedia.

    - Höfling, Physik (two volumes), Dümmler Verlag (i.e. publisher)
    - Kleine Enzyklopädie Mathematik (no authors, only publishers, but printed in GDR, so maybe used there as well)

    and a book about geometry and vectors by Köhler, Höwelmann, Krämer published by Diesterweg Salle (another publisher one could write to). Usually we didn't keep our books, because they had been borrowed from the school library.

    The first might be a good guess, since the two contain basically all about school physics. And the author (Höfling) as well as the publisher (Dümmler) are written on the front with equally sized letters. In addition Dümmler sounds close to your suggestion Krimsler. (If it helps: my versions are these: https://www.amazon.com/Physik-Bd-1-...id=1484487945&sr=1-8&keywords=Physik,+Höfling and https://www.amazon.com/Physik-Bd-2-...id=1484487945&sr=1-7&keywords=Physik,+Höfling, which is far thicker.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  7. Jan 16, 2017 #6


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    2016 Award

    In our days at high school (Abitur 1990) we had the physics textbooks by Kuhn and Metzler. However, I was lucky enough to have relatives in the GDR, who sent very good math and physics books for reviewing the material for the preparation for the Abitur exam. These books were much better written than their FDR counter parts and highly appreciated also by all my class mates. We circulated copies of them. I don't remember the authors' names of these books.
  8. Jan 17, 2017 #7
    It turns out the author I asked about specifically is Professor Ernst Grimsehl. He wrote Lehrbuch der Physik.

    Thanks again for all the replies. This subject interests me very much, not only because I like to read German, but because I admire the German educational system.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
  9. Jan 17, 2017 #8


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    2016 Award

    Well, yes, the German educational system has been pretty good. However, I think it's in severe decline. On the high-school level the standards of education in math and the natural sciences has been lowered, and the discrepancy between what's called "mathematics" in high school has very little in common with what you understand as "mathematics" at the university level. The tendency in physics didactics is making me worry very much: The idea that one should make the STEM subjects more attractive to more students (which is of course a good attempt) has lead to the idea that one should cut even more mathematics from the high-school teaching of physics is, in my opinion, a clear step backward, and it won't help to attract more successful STEM students at the universities. To the contrary, already now, all German universities are strengthening their offers for students to help with mathematics, starting from introductory summary courses before the freshman semester in the natural and engineering sciences starts to regular "math help desks" to help students with struggeling with the lack of mathematical foundational skills needed to solve the problems given in their major subjects.

    At the university level some years ago the "Bologna reform" was enforced on the before successful German Diploma system. The problem I see with this is not so much the scientific standards in the BSc/MS curriculum (which for physics is more or less fixed by the fundamental subjects any physicist has to learn in any case, mechanics, relativity, E&M, QM, Stat. Phys.) but the way the students are motivated to learn. Nowadays the main motivation is to pass exams and collect credit points instead of just studying for the interest and fun of the subject. When I was an undergraduate student at the unversity of Darmstadt (Dipl. Phys. in 1997), there were very few formal mandatory achievements to be collected. After 2 years we had pretty tough exams in the four subjects (math, exp. physics, theo. physics, chemistry), each 4-5 hours time, examining the entire content of the four semesters of study (and BTW we had to attend the lectures about mathematics, i.e., calculus and linear algebra together with the math majors; there was no extra math lecture for physicists!). After this "Vordiplom" you studied on towards the Diplom, which included 6 more semesters of studies with oral examanations, again in four subjects (exp.+theo. phys, math, one subject not taught at the physics department; in my case we could choose hydrodynamics from the mechanics department). In addition the Diplom included a Diploma Thesis, which took about 1 year of research to be summarized in the thesis. This system was very good when I look back, because we were forced to recapitulate all of standard physics at the end of our studies to pass the examinations. In addition the work towards the Diploma Thesis opened the door to real scientific research.

    Nowadays you have very formalized credit-point systems, collecting credit points towards the BSc and then MSc, usually writing an exam or have an oral examanation in each single lecture you have to attend. Were we could choose our lectures by interest and quality, nowadays the poor students have to listen to any "mandatory" course, and there's nothing that leads to gaining insight into the "big picture", i.e., you never are forced to learn all of physics from a more general point of view, which is only possible when you have already learnt the single subjects in some detail.

    It's not that at the end the students know less than we did at the time, and after getting a PhD you clearly are at the same level as we were finishing our PhDs, but I think there's a lot lacking in the formalized BSc/MSc system compared to the Diploma system, where we had much more academic freedom and self-responsibility for our education. Compared to high school for me attending the university was also the feeling to "break free" from the burden to learn what's enforced on me by teachers (many of them, I was not very keen on) but to learn what I really wanted to know, choosing the way how to learn (attending lectures, talking to other students, the tutors, and professors, reading books; the internet was in its infancies) ourselves, and last but not least that was a lot of fun. I feel particularly sorry for the students about the lack of this kind of fun academic freedom can bring!
  10. Jan 17, 2017 #9
    Thanks very much for your long answer. Your explanation is very informative.

    It seems many things in our world are in severe decline, nicht wahr?

    I am not qualified to judge the so-called Bologna reform or the European Higher Education Area, but I know about the traditional freedom of German students and I'm very sorry this is going away.

    I won't ask you any questions that may seem political. But I wish Germany and also France and the other most advanced European nations would not modify their programs in the name of standardization. I think each nation has developed a system that suits its own character. It makes no sense to me that France, Germany, Turkey, and Russia should all have the same system.

    I am curious about those tough exams such as the Abitur or those exams for the Vordiplom. How does one prepare for an exam that covers so much? Do they more or less tell you what types of questions will be on the exam? Are there practice exams?

    What if you felt sick or simply froze up during the exam, and did not do very well? Do you have the opportunity to take it again later on?

    I know in France the Bac is a big deal for the whole nation, and they even go over the questions on TV. Is the Abitur something like that?

    One other question I have is on German grading. Do you ever use a bell curve system like we do here in the USA, where your grade is based on your deviation above or below the average for the class?
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
  11. Jan 29, 2017 #10
    Regarding being sick etc, first of all the exams were somewhat stretched out, so you would have to have been exceptionally sick. As they are during summer, people don't really have colds or flus either. There is however a chance of doing it a week or so later I think, but it takes exceptional permission. And if you miss too many of them, you have to repeat the year. Quite a few people do anyway because they don't pass the exams.
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