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Teacher's Comment :

Hong Ja Bin - J.G.A. Galletti's Lehrbuch für den Schulunterricht in der Geschichtskunde - a German history school textbook printed in 1810



Jabin is the twin sister of Sang Bin, whose paper is also posted here. The twins have lived in a German-speaking environment for c. 4 years and are fluent speakers of German, as well as of English and Korean. I provided Ja Bin with a German history textbook of 1810 to describe and analyse. I have to add, being a German and having studied history, I could, of course, have written such an analysis in a couple of hours; so I had to restrain myself from volunteering information to her, in order not to defeat the purpose. I answered her questions, but left it up to her to organize the paper; and she worked rather independently.
While she had a clearly defined, manageable primary source to deal with, Jabin faced obstacles on several levels. For one, she had lived in Germany/she went to the German school in Poland when she was young, so now she had to get used to academic German, and the German of 1810 differs slightly in orthography from that of today. Then, as in the case of her sister's research project, German history textbooks are much more detailed on German history than my AP European History class can ever be; in order to judge the quality of history education in 1810 she had to find detailed accounts to detect omissions etc. Modern history books place greater emphasis on social and economic history; in the days of Galletti history was diplomatic and military history. Ja Bin's research was made more delicate by the fact that Galletti is, in Germany, regarded the inventor of "Kathederblüten" - academic howlers.
Ja Bin established that history instruction in 1810 was mainly an iteration of dates in political and military history. Galletti meant well; his book was widely used, although he was criticized by contemporary scholars such as novelist Friedrich Schiller. Ja Bin established how historical instruction, since Galletti, has progressed, as modern books cover chapters based on archeological findings made after Galletti's time and use terminology coined after him, such as "Renaissance" etc. She observes that, despite the book having been published in 1810 - an early climax of German cultural nationalism, at a time when Napoleon Bonaparte was still in control of Central Europe - the book does in no way inspire patriotic sentiment. It s neither critical nor supportive of the French Revolution and sticks strictly to facts.
Ja Bin dealt with a topic which had a clear object of research, but was otherwise ill-defined. It was her task to come up with questions, with an organization of her paper. This having been the first time for her to face such a task independently, it took her time. She had more than a year for the project (a time during which, of course, she had to deal with numerous other tasks), and she wrote a satisfactory paper which, as a study based on a primary source, goes beyond the level of a university seminar presentation. The project provided Ja Bin with a valuable experience; the next time she faces such a situation, she will be able to attack the project in a more time- and energy-efficient way. The paper is of value for non-German historians; its purpose was to provide Ja Bin with an opportunity to both experience academic research in the field of history and to make use of her German language skills.


December 23rd 2005

Alexander Ganse



Hong Ja Bin J.G.A. Galletti's Lehrbuch für den Schulunterricht in der Geschichtskunde - a German history school textbook printed in 1810