A community of practitioners of Torah Im Derech Eretz
I'd like someone who believes Rav Hirsch didn't believe in Torah im Derech Eretz to explain the amazing curriculum he assigned to Graetz (page 90-91). It's unbelievable. A 12-hour schedule with six hours devoted to Greek, Latin, Physics, Math, History, and Geography. Wow.
I suppose they could argue that he did this to appease the community. But R' Hirsch says explicitly that TIDE is not an emergency measure. I don't know if he believed it was ideal to spent 6 hours on those subjects. Could be, could not be. But certainly he believe in TIDE as an ideal.
But this was his personal student! He didn't have to please anyone. Graetz said, "Please, teach me, I want to be under your wing." Rav Hirsch could have set up any schedule he wanted. And he chose this one. I think this tells you what Rav Hirsch thought an ideal education was for someone of Graetz' age.
I didn't even think about that. That's a really good point. I have to say that most of my secular studies seem to have edified me, even the literature, but particularly the older stuff like 19th century. Some of the 20th century material was unhealthy though.
Yes, being a Torah im Derech eretz Jew in the 21st century is a bit trickier considering the state of the culture. This is a key point, which I know you're interested in -- how to be part of society and culture while rejecting large swaths of it. Torah im Derech Eretz does not mean watching TV just because your father watched TV in the 1950s. TV was largley kosher in the 1950s and largley treif today. It would be nice if more Jews cared about shaping culture in line with G-d's values rather than either imbibing it all without distinction (most Modern Orthodox Jews) or isolating oneself from it all and living in a monastery (most yeshivish Jews).
It takes tremendous mental discipline, something Germans have more of than Americans. So that's part of the problem too. As R' Schwab said, TIDE is a chumrah not a kulah. It could be that people today are not up to the task. The problem is that they call hiding from the world the higher level when it's the lower one.