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What Did Martin Luther King Say About Education?


Sylvia Martinez has written a post sharing a speech King gave to the United Federation of Teachers, and commenting that she thinks it reflects a perspective that would include critiquing initiatives like the Race To The Top because it is “designed to create winners and losers in an education “game.””

While a college student in 1947, Martin Luther King also wrote a column in the campus newspaper and titled it “The Purpose of Education.” I wonder if this excerpt from King’s column (you can read the complete piece at Stanford’s collection of his papers), might raise similar questions:

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 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.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. “The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.

    With insight and forward thinking Martin Luther King zoomed in on the key debates of our time – what and how do we teach children. Martin Luther King’s willingness to speak out about the importance of critical and creative thinking in spite of the efforts of many people to force closeminded thinking on the citizens of the United States is inspriational. Reading your Blog and others gives me hope that teachers will carry the torch on behalf of creative thinkers and learners everywhere in the world.

  2. MLK’s excerpt from his college newspaper in 1947, is very inspiring and interesting still and has generated a desire for more of his writtings.

  3. Pingback: Dr. Martin Luther King: El propósito de la educación | Edcamp Santiago

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