The Teacher's Desk

Sharing The Passion. Sharpening The Tools. Promoting Life Long Learning.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.-The Purpose of Education

Dr.King Today celebrations took place all around the nation commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  So often, the message of Dr. King has been watered down and domesticated ; however , if you listen to his speeches and read his writings you will find that this man of non violence stood strong as an agitator of injustice and racism in all facets of American society.

Dr. King wrote an article while at More House College on the purpose of education in the Maroon Tiger, the campus newspaper.  In this day of testing, accountability, ranking, I believe that his words are extremely necessary and poignant.  He writes:

It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the ligitimate goals of his life.

Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.

The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.. . . .

I loved his closing argument in this article he says,

We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.

If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, “brethren!” Be careful, teachers!

PD. Maroon Tiger (January-February 1947): 10. Copy in GD.

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