Will teaching ever fall victim to automation?

Professions and trades through the ages

1.      The Middle Ages brought with it greater specialization for the first time

This desire for diversity became increasingly noticeable from the Middle Ages. This was the beginning of urban development and the blossoming of these cities, so that not only food was extremely important, but also craftsmen who had to specialize in their work became increasingly necessary. A blacksmith was no longer just a blacksmith who was responsible for a wide variety of productions, instead there were now big differences between, for example, armourers, goldsmiths and Blattner.

a. Guilds, guilds and guilds

In order to guarantee a certain quality within a city and to keep competition as low as possible, guilds were formed. In this, craftsmen from a trade came together to regulate working hours, prices and training conditions from now on; the guild also monitored compliance with the rules and the production of goods. This association of craftsmen was not called a guild everywhere, the terms guild and guild generally mean the same thing, whereby a guild can also mean an association of merchants who have basically come together for the same reasons as the craftsmen (price regulations, working hours, etc.).

i. Guild compulsory

From the Middle Ages onwards, membership in a guild was an obligation. Anyone who did not join a guild was not permitted to practice the trade in question. This served to keep the competition in a city in check and to prevent the immigration of too many craftsmen in one trade. However, this was particularly problematic for the next generation: a limitation for apprentices made them dependent on their masters, as it was not always possible for them to become masters themselves and thus to get into their own craft business.

ii. Freedom of trade

With the French Revolution, the freedom of trade slowly asserted itself, which made it possible for every craftsman to work freely with his desired trade without having to obey the requirements of a guild. In the second half of the 18th century, this freedom of trade was already a basic economic right in many countries, and from 1810 it was also introduced in Prussia with the Stein-Hardenberg reforms.

3.      Industrial revolution

Shortly afterwards, the industrial revolution was in full swing, which reached its peak in Germany between 1830 and 1873. With this industrial revolution, well-known professional groups such as farmers, blacksmiths and merchants have not lost their importance, but have been supplemented by newly created professions.

a. Rapidly growing automation

With the onset of the industrial revolution, the first sign was set that indicated where the future should go: automation came more and more to the fore. This phenomenon was noticeable in a wide variety of areas, for example in means of transport. Once the horse or the horse-drawn carriage was one of the few ways to move around without physical strength, the construction of railways suddenly made it much easier to cover long distances, as did the invention of the automobile. In professional terms, there have been clear advances in the manufacture of goods that could previously only be made by hand thanks to machines.

i. Textile industry as the engine of change

The textile industry is one of the oldest branches of industry. Even before the industrial revolution, textile production was seen as an important preliminary stage before the manufacture of clothing. Spinning and weaving has taken on an important, but also complex, point in the craft. With the invention of machines that have significantly simplified and accelerated the process of spinning and weaving, textile production has gained a completely new possibility. The spinning jenny, the first machine to spin wool into yarn, and the mechanical loom even laid the foundation for the following factory system and gave the impetus to the development of other branches of industry.

ii. The first unions were formed

While the guilds lost more and more importance at the time of the industrial revolution and had to give way to the freedom of trade, the first trade unions were formed at this time, which, like the guilds, were formed within certain professional groups. The phenomenon was found in professions such as metalworkers, miners, bakers and construction workers in particular in individual large cities. The first centrally organized union was the General German Cigar Workers' Association from Leipzig, which was co-founded by Friedrich Wilhelm Fritzsche.

4.      Today's world of work

The industrial revolution was the forerunner of today's working world, in which traditional handicrafts still play a role, but handicraft itself is less and less important. Rather, most products are produced industrially and computer technology has become indispensable in commercial professions, as it makes work enormously easier.

a. Complex occupational safety system

What used to be the rules of guilds is now a complex occupational health and safety system. Compared to then, however, the conditions for employees have improved significantly. While the compulsory guild in the Middle Ages enormously restricted young craftsmen and regulations were often difficult to meet, today's occupational safety is primarily geared towards the health safety of the employee, although working hours and protection against dismissal also play a major role. Due to many laws, commands and regulations, accidents in the workplace and consequential damage caused by inhumane working conditions should be avoided as much as possible. Many branches of industry have a law specifically tailored to their job description, for example when working with hazardous substances or on construction sites.

b. Unemployment as a problem