©2001 NewFoundations

Karl Marx's Educational Theory

Analyst: M. L. Fulano de T.


edited 8/18/11

1. Theory of Value: What knowledge and skills are worthwhile learning? What are the goals of education?

Combination of education with industrial production (CM 75) We still had no idea how much education ... had yet to be done to make the proletariat capable of shattering the bourgeois world. (PCM vii) Transformation of labor into the primary means of self-realization rather than a curse borne grudgingly. (PCM 22) The same object appears quite different [and thus its value viewed differently as well] to members of different classes (PCM 29) The free development of each would be the condition for the free development of all (PCM 37) People would need a long period of reeducation under socialism to condition them away from the selfish orientation produced by capitalism and toward the wider perspective necessary to create communism. (SGCM 2) In order to live, people must secure food, shelter and clothing, typically by production (PHP 410) Education is to consist of a many-sided technical training of youth, so that a many-sided development of capacities might take place. (CME 190)

2. Theory of Knowledge: What is knowledge? How is it different from belief? What is a mistake? What is a lie?

Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man's ideas, views and conceptions ... in the condition of his material existence? (CM 73) Some knowledge does not change (i.e. 2+2 = 4), but ideologies or beliefs do. (PCM 29) Basic reality is material (PHP 410) Values can not be contemplated in isolation from their historical context. (RKM 3)

3. Theory of Human Nature: What is a human being? How does it differ from other species? What are the limits of human potential?

In my individual activity I would immediately confirmed and realized my true human and social nature. (PCM 23) Human existence is ftindamentally dependent upon the ways in which men and nature interact. (PCM 26) Men are conditioned by the material world into which they are born. (LKM 2) To Marx, materialism meant the sum of the natural environment, including social life and human consciousness (PHP 410) That human beings possess minds means only that organic matter has developed to the point where it is capable of the process of thought. (PHP 410) Mental activity is a by-product of matter. (PHP 4 10) The human mind is conditioned by the labor activity of human as social beings (PHP 410)

4. Theory of Learning: What is learning? How are skills and knowledge acquired?

The truth of thought must be demonstrated in practice (HWP 784) Both the knower and the thing known are in a continual process of mutual adaptation (HVvT 784)

5. Theory of Transmission: Who is to teach? By what methods? What will the curriculum be?

But, you will say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations when we replace home education with social. (CM 71) The species-character of the human being is free, conscious activity (PHP 415) They [The Communists] seek to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class. (CM 71) Combination of education with industrial production (CM 75) The ideology best expressing the interests of ruling class always prevails in a society's morality, legal system, education, politics and economic life. (PCM 30)

6. Theory of Society: What is society? What institutions are involved in the educational process?

Free education for all children in public schools. (CM 75) Society is understood in terms of its mode of production, especially its class structure (PCM 29) Class conflicts influence the prevailing political institutions (including schools) and ideologies (PCM 29) Society is the result of necessary causation and determinism. (PHP 409) Of importance is how people are related to each other in the process of production (PHP 411)

7. Theory of Opportunity: Who is to be educated? Who is to be schooled?

Free education for all children in public schools. (CM 75) Demand for universal and gratuitous education. (PCM 17)

8. Theory of Consensus: Why do people disagree? How is consensus achieved? Whose opinion takes precedence?

The history of hitherto existing society, is a history of class struggle (CM 55) A fight which ended each time ... either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes (CM 55)


CM Marx, K. (1988). The Communist Manifesto (A Norton Critical Edition). New York: W.W. Norton and Co.

PCM Bender, F. (1988). Preface to The Communist Manifesto (A Norton Critical Edition). New York: W.W. Norton and Co.

PHP Stumpf, S. (1994). Philosophy: History and Problems. New York: McGraw-Hill.

HWP Russell, B. (1945). A History of Western Philosophy. New York: Simon and Schuster.

LKM Kreis, S. (2000). The Age of Ideologies (2): Reflections on Karl Marx in Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History. HYPERLINK "http://www.pagesz.net/~stevek/intellect/lecture22a.html" www.pagesz.net/~stevek/intellect/lecture22a.html.

SGCM Brians, P. (1995). Study Guide for the Communist Manifesto. HYPERLINK "http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/hum_303/manifesto.html" www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/hum_303/manifesto.html.