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A Marxist thought

This post was originally published here on Labour Teachers on 29th October 2015.

Recently I read a book entitled “Socialist Mathematics Education”, you can read my thoughts on it here. The book looks at mathematics education in the socialist and communist states at the time. It was published in 1978.

In the last chapter the author comments on the Education system and how it deals with economic and political education. Stating that the schools in these regimes were geared up to propagate the ideology of the state. They then quoted Karl Marx, to show that these states were working in direct opposition to the ideals of Marx.

Marx said that religious, economic and political education should be kept away from children. Letting then grow into critical thinkers before allowing them, as adults, to learn about these things when they are in a better position to be able to make up their own minds. I can see why Marx proposed this, it would negate any propaganda and allow people to be fully informed before making a choice, rather than having this choice thrust upon them. However, I think it would be entirely impossible and impractical to even try to implement this in today’s society.

Firstly, on religion,  it would be impossible to keep this idea away from children. They are inquisitive, they ask questions. They wonder why some people have little statues of men nailed to crosses on their wall or as necklaces. They wonder why some people wear prayer caps, why some people wear Hijabs or Nicabs. The natural inquisitive nature of children means that you need to have these discussions. Even in mon-religous households like my own these discussions are commonplace, and some of the questions mentioned are in fact ones I have been asked.

Then there’s politics. That’s everywhere too, people talk about it on the television, people sing about it in their music, children listen to the conversations the adults gave around them. My daughter was approaching her third birthday when she asked my wife “Mum, what’s a Tory?”

If we shun away from these discussions we could build in an intolerance of everything that’s different, and we would no doubt be adding to the already too great feeling of apathy amongst voters.

It is my belief that schools should not be propagating a world view, a concept of “the right way” to run a country or the right religion to follow. But that they should be educating the next generation on the different views that are held by different people and creating the informed critical thinkers Marx hopes for who can make their own informed decision.

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