A Proper Understanding of the Liberal Education Now

What do I tell my two year old son if he does not want to fall asleep? How do I react when my five-year-old daughter refuses to eat vegetables? And what do I do if my thirteen-year-old scion absolutely needs a piercing? Parents are often at a loss to face such educational challenges and do not know how to behave. Because unlike in the past, there is no general consensus today about what is really proper education? The range of parenting styles is diverse, but above all the authoritarian, anti-authoritarian and democratic method with its varying varieties and hybrid forms has shaped our culture in the last hundred years. Now what is liberal education?

Education in Transition

Today’s youth loves luxury, has bad manners and despises authority, Socrates is said to have complained about unkempt children over 2000 years ago. Then as now, this sentence seems current. But the methods of education have changed. Until about a hundred years ago, hardly anyone thought about raising children, let alone about the possibilities to find other educational approaches. Above all, children had to adapt to the family hierarchy of which the father was the head. Obedience, duty fulfillment and discipline were already expected of the youngest and the exercise of corporal punishment against children was socially recognized and widespread.

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, under the collective name Reformpädagogik, there was a worldwide movement that represented new concepts and, above all, opposed the authoritarian Paukschulen. The most well-known representatives were Maria Montessori, who propagated more autonomy after the motto help me to do it myself.

Flood Educational Counselor

It is true that the reform pedagogy brought a lot of fresh air into the laxed educational apparatus. However, the wind initially reached only a few open-minded and elitist minds. There was little change in the rigid educational reality. In post-war Germany until the 1960s, there was still largely social agreement on educational goals, which relied primarily on authority and Prussian virtues. With the student movement and the associated social changes, eventually spread the ideas of anti-authoritarian education. A new pedagogical era began that emphasized values ​​such as independence, self-determination and self-realization, and spawned many new educational models.

Today, parents, educators and teachers are under a lot of pressure. Never before have you thought and discussed so much and publicly about education as at the moment. And never before has the longing for orientation and values ​​been so great. That is how else to explain that the market is booming with education counselors and television educational reality documentaries about nannies, swap mothers or strict lending parents’ boom.


If you ask the parents, they are aware that raising children has become more difficult today, but at the same time they also show you little uncertainty. This was proven by the study “Generations barometer” of the Allensbach Institute for Demo-scopy, which was commissioned in 2009 by the “Forum Familie Stark Machen”. After that, 90 percent of fathers and mothers wanted to educate their children to strong, self-confident and freedom-loving personalities. Eighty percent of respondents were convinced that they are actually doing a good job and achieving their goals through understanding, encouragement and love. Authoritarian education therefore rejects most respondents today. But until the 1960s, this style set the tone.