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May 2002 - Nr. 5

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Letter from the Editor

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister  
Dear Reader

Just as we are raving about German Culture in Ontario the terrible news from Germany reached us about the tragedy in Erfurt. I cannot help but compare the news to similar problems in other countries and think what all these incidents have in common: unhappy students. The other thing that is less apparent, because it is never covered well in the reports, is the fact that most of these kids have been on drugs of some sort or another, often the legal variety, like Prozac or Ritalin; which means that they were in contact with professionals from the mental health industry. Problems at school, dismissal, and problems with parents are all part and parcel of such incidents.

At the same time we read in other reports that schools need an overhaul, that the kids do not learn enough anymore, that largely they are at best semi literate and have problems with other subjects as well. No wonder: if one does not understand ones language one cannot learn. And that is often where the problem really starts. Some educators can report that children that want to learn and who’s interest in learning can be kept alive are far less prone to trouble of all sorts.

I recall the advent of the arrival of the then so called American method in Germany. I also recall being utterly bored from then on in at school. But in our time we were still used to a certain amount of discipline even if we did protest, what child didn’t, we did realize nevertheless the wisdom of it. This discipline was soon after the end of my schooldays terminated with the American model, when the Doctor Spocks of the world took over. Well, have a good look what they created! Instead of a well balanced diet of love and discipline, minus sugar laden foods, children and youth were given large dosages of running rampant, freedom of choice, but never brought to understanding that freedom comes only and can only be enjoyed with a certain amount of discipline. The newfangled methods were championed and introduced through the Rockefeller Foundation in the USA and have an interesting connection to Leipzig. In fact there is a book called the Leipzig Connection about just this subject. Since it is a very good book it is probably out of print. I will find out and let you know as soon as I have the information.

In the meantime we cannot let the events of the world consume us to the degree that our responsibilities at hand are neglected. Life must go on and it might as well be as wonderful as possible for those of us that are not directly involved in the problem right now.

The Opening Ceremony cake prepared by Denninger, HamiltonIn Toronto and also Kitchener we are celebrating a program of German cultural events that were largely initiated through the tremendous efforts of the newest Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Toronto, Dr. Hochschild. Together with an already diverse cultural scene of the mainstream this makes for a very busy season. A season designed to uplift and resurrect our sore spirits. This issue will focus and report on those cultural events. Some of them, even in the German arena, have nothing to do with the festival, but did an equally marvellous job of touching us. Unfortunately we do not have the means to bring all of it to you, but we shall do our best. More information on the events is always available through the Goethe Institute,416-593-5257, which is putting on a lion share of the presentations with movies, and photo exhibits and such, and the consulate, 416-925-2813, Ext.23, has all the information you need. The festival was designed to bring German culture to Canadians, to create a better understanding of German culture for Canadians, who might have come to believe that Sauerkraut and beer are the major components. Fine wines, film, art and music and of cause sports are equally, if not more so the staple diet of the broad spectrum of German culture.

We have certainly known and promoted that and hope that this festival will add to the changing of perspectives about our culture and our homeland.

We hope to see you out there. And while we cannot be everywhere, we are participating actively at the German School day on May 11, Kinderfest Day. I shall read German Fairy Tales to small and big children during the course of the day. Call 416-922-6413 for more details.

Have a wonderful time!

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister 

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