Home »

Gymnasium (school)

The meaning of «gymnasium (school)»

Gymnasium (or gymnázium, gimnazija, gimnazjum, etc.) is a term in various European languages for a secondary school that prepares students for higher education at a university. It is comparable to the British English terms grammar school and sixth form college, and to US English preparatory high school. Before the 20th century, the gymnasium system was a widespread feature of educational systems throughout many European countries.

The word γυμνάσιον (gumnásion), from Greek γυμνός (gumnós) 'naked', was first used in Ancient Greece, in the sense of a place for both physical and intellectual education of young men. The latter meaning of a place of intellectual education persisted in many European languages (including Albanian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Greek, German, Hungarian, the Nordic languages, Dutch, Polish, Czech, Serbian, Macedonian, Slovak, Slovenian, and Russian); whereas in English and Spanish, instead, the former meaning of a place for physical education was retained, in the colloquial, abbreviated form "gym".

Because gymnasiums prepare students for university study, they are thus meant for the more academically minded students, who are sifted out between the ages of 10–13. In addition to the usual curriculum, students of a gymnasium often study Latin and Ancient Greek.

Some gymnasiums provide general education, while others have a specific focus. (This also differs from country to country.) The four traditional branches are:

Curricula differ from school to school but generally include literature, mathematics, informatics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, art (as well as crafts and design), music, history, philosophy, civics/citizenship,[note 1] social sciences, and several foreign languages.

Schools concentrate not only on academic subjects, but also on producing well-rounded individuals, so physical education and religion or ethics are compulsory, even in non-denominational schools which are prevalent. For example, the German constitution guarantees the separation of church and state, so although religion or ethics classes are compulsory, students may choose to study a specific religion or none at all.

Today, a number of other areas of specialization exist, such as gymnasiums specializing in economics, technology or domestic sciences. In some countries, there is a notion of .mw-parser-output .vanchor>:target~.vanchor-text{background-color:#b1d2ff}progymnasium, which is equivalent to beginning classes of the full gymnasium, with the rights to continue education in a gymnasium. Here, the prefix pro- is equivalent to pre-, indicating that this curriculum precedes normal gymnasium studies.

In Central European, Nordic, Benelux and Baltic countries, this meaning for "gymnasium" (that is a secondary school preparing the student for higher education at a university) has been the same at least since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. The term was derived from the classical Greek word "γυμνάσιον" (gymnasion), which was originally applied to an exercising ground in ancient Athens. Here teachers gathered and gave instruction between the hours devoted to physical exercises and sports, and thus the term became associated with and came to mean an institution of learning.[1]

Related Searches

contact us full version