Wolfgang Mitter - Short autobiography#


I was born on 14 September 1927 at Trautenau (Trutnov), Bohemia, a medium-sized town in the former German-speaking part of the Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic). After completing the five-year primary school I attended the gymnasium up to the 11th grade (related to the whole of primary and secondary education) at Zwittau (Svitavy), Moravia. After a short period of service in the German army and another year of war captivity (in Czechoslovakia) I was transferred to Germany (U.S. Zone) where I met my parents again. I finished the gymnasium and passed the abitur including the admission to university studies.

From 1948 to 1954 I completed my studies of history, English language and literature, Slav languages and literatures (mainly Russian) and philosophy and the University of Mainz where I passed the first state examination comprising the qualification of teaching at gymnasien. Then I enjoyed the privilege of a scholarship for completing my doctoral studies at the Free University of Berlin. There I acquired the doctoral degree (Dr. phil.) on the base of the thesis on "Karamzin's political ideas" in 1954 under the tutorship of Professor Werner Philipp. (M. N: Karamzin was a famous Russian historian who exercised, for some years, considerable influence on Tsar Alexander I.)

From 1954 to 1956 I completed the second (probational) phase of teacher education at Kassel where I passed the final examination qualifying for teaching at gymnasien. From 1956 to 1964 I was a teacher (studienrat) at the Friedrichsgymnasium at Kassel. During that period I devoted considerable time to studies in educational sciences, focussed on comparative education and curriculum development. Between 1961 and 1964 I was entrusted with the function of training teachers completing their probational phase (fachleiter).

From 1964 to 1972 I held the Chair of General and Comparative Education at the Paedagogische Hochschule (Teachers College) at Lueneburg, at the same time teaching comparative education at the University of Hamburg.

In 1972 I was appointed Head of the Department of General and Comparative Education at the German Institute for International Educational Research at Frankfurt am Main. In that function which I held until the end of 1998 I was responsible for research conducted by about 20 senior and junior researchers. I was also in charge of the whole Institute in the elective capacity of Director between 1978 and 1981 and between 1987 and 1995. In 1995 I was transferred to the status of Emeritus Professor. Definitively since the end of 1998 I have given up all my official functions at the Institute, while I am still provided with an office and continue to conduct research. Furthermore I fulfilled my teaching responsibilities at the University of Frankfurt am Main which I had begun in 1974 until 2007 (including the promotion of doctoral and mater students and the qualification of diploma students and teacher trainees).

Since the beginning of the sixties I have been conducting research in the field of comparative and international education as well as educational policy studies. My first projects were focussed on the education systems of the former Soviet Union and her neighbouring countries. As a concomitant of my responsibilities at the German Institute for International Educational Research my fields of research have been gradually extended, one the one hand into comparisons of European and non-European education systems, on the other hand into issues of educational politics and educational theory. While my systems-oriented studies have concentrated on upper secondary and teacher education (initial and in-service), my recent theoretical studies have comprised issues of globalisation, regionalisation and cultural pluralism in education. The outcomes of my research have become manifest in a considerable number of books, research reports, essays and reviews. Besides I was the editor of three series of educational studies and, between 1972 and 1981, one óf the editors of the "International Review of Education" (UNESCO-Institute for Education, Hamburg). Since 1971 I have been one of the editors (and between 1982 and 1997 Acting Editor) of the German journal "Bildung und Erziehung".

To illustrate my international contacts I want to mention my research, lecture and congress trips to a great number of countries: Western, Central and Eastern Europe; Soviet Union and Russia;. United States, Canada, Mexco, Brazil; Eastern and Southeast Asia (Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore); India; Israel; Kuwait and Lebanon; Australia. My international activities were underlined by various formal responsibilities: in particular President of the Comparative Education Society in Europe (CESE) 1981-85; President of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES) 1991-96; President of the World Association of Educational Research (WAER) 1997-2000; Chairman of the Educational Committee of the German Commission for UNESCO 1989-1998. In the course of the past thirty years I was engaged in various projects and missions in the framework of UESCO, OECD and the Council of Europe. I have been distinguished with the following awards: Chevalier de l'Ordre Léopold II (Belgium), Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Education of the Charles University (Prague), Medal of the 650th Anniversary and Silver Commemorative Medal, both of the Charles University (Prague); Goethe Plaquette of the Land Hessen (Germany); Honorary Memberships of the CESE and the German Commission for UNESCO. I have been also distinguished by conferred memberships of the Academia Europaea and the Russian Academy of Education. On November 27th, 2002 I was distinguished with an Honorary Doctorate (Dr. h.c.) by the Faculty of Education, Carl-von-Ossietzky University, Oldenburg. (Source: http://www.cese-europe.org)

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