The King himself: On education

What is the worth of your education? Exceeding the sum of the tuition fee ever paid in your lifetime, your education is worth what you are worth. It is undoubtedly the ultimate key to success which surpasses color, creed or religion. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, a great American humanitarian, “Education must enable one to be efficient.” Dr. King’s philosophy is deemed to be one of the most powerful on this topic, and questions how some view, value and verbalize their opportunity of having an education. Through his essay, “The Purpose of Education,” written in 1947, we are able to examine his perspective on the functions of education, the forces which oppose it and methods of negating these forces in order to be ‘well educated’. We are reminded that if we are not careful, we could be at risk of becoming “close minded” individuals who may be unprepared for the world.

According to Dr. King, education has solely two functions, “utility” and “culture.” The “utility” aspect is associated with education enabling individuals to gain jobs or careers while the cultural aspect is associated with the amount of morals and values we possess. Dr. King applies a thought provoking statement which says, “The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason but no morals,” so as to tell us that utility and morals must go hand in hand. Another major function of education is that it should give individuals the ability “to think intensively and critically.” It equips individuals with skills to cooperate, communicate and carry out procedures effectively in the world of work, society and life as a whole. Fundamentally, an education “helps us to discern the real from the unreal and the true from the false” in many situations. It provides one with sufficient deductive reasoning they need to not be deceived.

However, where there is progress, opposition is also likely to be. Dr. King comments that the river of education is likely to become stagnant if we engage ourselves in “half-truths, prejudices and propaganda”. These forces are misleading and may even come from places such as the ‘press’, ‘platform’ and ‘pulpit.’ They hinder effectiveness and efficiency. These forces may also come from the so called ‘educated people,’ who, however, are unable to think logically and scientifically. Dr. King gives an example of Eugene Talmadge, a politician, who notes that Dr. King is an “inferior being”. Mr. Talmadge was being prejudiced even though he didn’t truly know Dr. King. Was he truly an educated individual?

In order to negate the opposing forces, there are several steps we may take. The most pertinent step is to combine intelligence with character. This means that with intelligence, each individual must possess a unique perspective which helps them to stand out. This step is effective because it allows individuals to have a clear understanding of others and enables them to challenge theories, based on their opinion, in order to improve situations in our society. Another step to negate these forces is to concentrate on “worthy objectives”. Education evokes within us constructive thoughts which lead to constructive actions. Finally, we can learn to “discern the real from the unreal” in order to expel these opposing forces completely.

Education may have various purposes but the true purposes are revealed through rounded individuals who are fit for society. One may only reach their goal of being ‘well educated’ if they concentrate, apply character with intelligence and decipher the true from the false. In this way, individuals would become “more efficient to achieve with increasing facility”, the desired goals of their life. It is without a doubt that Dr. Martin Luther King’s essay shows us the true functions of education and how we may achieve them, through his perspective.

Author: Keia Smith


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