I find myself, more often than not, thinking about education and what it truly means. I realize that I want something more to come from the education my students receive. I often feel there is a slight misconception on what the purpose of education is. Some believe education should provide children with the necessary skills in math and reading and that education is about only making good grades and getting the highest test scores. Those grades and test scores will get you into the most prestigious college and universities. Those colleges and universities will then guarantee a life that everyone around you would love to receive. Good grades and test scores are in important, but when we talk about the purpose, should that be it?
When I look at education, I think about the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Seventy-two years ago Dr. King’s believed that education played a role in the social living of people in our community. My purpose for education is that we do not teach our children how to think and how to live. They must understand the importance of thinking for themselves. They need to know they must be capable of making their own decisions. When they make their own choices, they then control the direction of their life.
Dr. King understood the importance that education played in teaching people how to think on their own. He wrote, “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.” Those words were spoken in 1947 and ring true today in 2019. With everything going on in our country, our children can be quickly swept up in the chaos, have their minds corrupted, and make decisions that are not in their best interest. We live in a society surrounded half-truths and false ideas that come off as truths. We live in a society that will stretch the truth to fit certain agendas. Education allows you to understand fact from fiction. How to think is an important component of education.
I have always said as an educator in addition to going to college, graduating, and getting a job, I always wanted my students to grow to be productive citizens in society. The purpose of education is to teach us how to live. In education, we learn how to develop relationships that will allow us to work with others. What type of citizens is our education system producing? We have to think about the people we are sending into the world. We have to consider the future. In education, you learn how to work and live around people that are different from you. This is important in the social development of people. How to live is an important component of education. When you think about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let’s also think about his purpose and believes about a quality education.