©2000 NewFoundations

The Educational Theory of Martin Luther

M.L. Fulano de T.


edited 8/18/11

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

L.H.L. 77: The power of acting on ideas through being literate causes thought arousal which stimulates the appetite and causes the will to become active.

G.P.T. 303: Enable the general population to become literate in the scriptures.

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

R.R.T. 211: Forgiveness and justification can come only through faith. Scriptures must be read. Man cannot save himself.

R.S. 57: Allowing one to be led by the Church through blind faith. Man-made morality through indulgences.

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

L.H.L. 71: Until the age of five, humans are untainted and innocent; at the age of six and on, they look for idleness and pleasure, but shun discipline, and hate all virtues.

R.R.T. 212: Social and spiritual equality of all men in the sight of God.

IV. Theory of knowledge

Learning:What is learning? How are skills and acquired?

L.H.L. 82: Learning is a natural activity, and as long as appropriate instructional techniques are used, not much of a burden to a normally endowed human being. Three ways for effective learning : natural endowment, instruction, practice.

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

L.H.L. 71: Reassurance is needed above all in their approaches to the young as learners. The elders are the teachers.

163: The Lutheran Catechism is broadened and establishes the right order for all estates in society.

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

U.S. 329: "Priesthood of All Believers". 330: No change in the political or economic status.

L.H.L. 268: Village elders are responsible for looking for evildoers, not in the spirit of vengeance but to encourage them to become better Christians.

U.S. 330: Secular leaders; government has a responsibility to support proposals. (for education)

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

L.H.L. 71: All who could be reached by instruction.

U.S. 330: Compulsory education; one or two hours a day.

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

People are unable to read, therefore unable to interpret scripture. Consensus is achieved through education.

L.R. 110: The main goal of reformers is to arm the simple layman with scripture.


G.P.T. Great Political Thinkers, William Ebenstein, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1969.

L.H.L. Luther's House of Learning, Introduction of the Young in the German Reformation, Gerald Strauss, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978.

L.R. Life in the Renaissance, Marzieh Gail, Random House, no copyright date.

R.R.T. Renaissance and Reformation Times, Dorothy Mills, Putnam, 1939.

R.S. Reformation and Society in Sixteenth-Century Europe, A.G. Dickens, Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., 1966.

U.S. Understanding Schools: The Foundations of Education, Gary K. Clabaugh and Edward G. Rozycki, Harper and Row, 1990.