Purpose Of Education
by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
Morehouse College Student Paper, The Maroon Tiger, in 1947
I engage in the so-called "bull sessions" around and about
the school, I too often find that most college men have a misconception
of the purpose of education. Most of the "brethren" think
that education should equip them with the proper instruments of exploitation
so that they can forever trample over the masses. Still others think
that education should furnish them with noble ends rather than means
to an end.
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
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.
The late Eugene Talmadge, in my opinion, possessed one of the better
minds of Georgia, or even America. Moreover, he wore the Phi Beta Kappa
key. By all measuring rods, Mr. Talmadge could think critically and
intensively; yet he contends that I am an inferior being. Are those
the types of men we call educated?
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!
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