Ausgabe 1/2010, 106. Jahrgang
Fenster in die Schulkultur: Organisation und Gestaltung ritueller Übergänge
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We spend a good part of our childhood and youth in schools. Schools are thus co-repsonsible for marking passages within the biography of individuals. Cultural anthropology has studied life cycle rituals particularly within the family and professional life, using the formal structural and symbolic approaches of van Gennep and Turner respectively. The ethnographic study of the complex whole of educational institutions illustrates how ritual passages flow together with the organization of the school’s year cycle on the one hand and the needs of biographical transitions on the other. This articles presents the preliminary results of a comparative study of two gymnasia (secondary schools). Analysing the configuration of ritual events permits one to draw conclusions about the particularities of each school. The institutions are represented through the practices and interpretations of its own actors and each ritual event thus can be regarded as a window onto a given school culture. The paper focuses on the school entrance-phase of fifth graders who – in this German state – change from primary to secondary school after fourth grade. With this case study, the article hopes at once to deepen the understanding of the function of rituals in modern institutions and to foster further interest in the cultural anthropological study of schools and school culture.