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The Purpose of Education - Stanford University - the purpose of education summary

The Purpose of Education - Stanford University-the purpose of education summary

TThhee MMaarrttiinn LLuutthheerr KKiinngg,, JJrr.. PPaappeerrss PPrroojjeecctt
"The Purpose of Education" Feb
January-February 1947
Atlanta, Ga.
Writing in the campus newspaper, the Maroon Tiger, King argues that
education has both a utilitarian and a moralfunction.' Citing the example of
Georgia'sformer governor Eugene Talmadge, he asserts that reasoning ability is
not enough. He insists that character and moral development are necessary to give
the critical intellect humane purposes. King, Sr., later recalled that his son told
him, "Talmadge has a Phi Beta Kappa key, can you believe that? What did he w e
all that precious knowledgefor? To accomplish what?"'
As 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
I . In 1925, the Maroon Tiger succeeded the Athenaeum as the campus literary journal at More-
house. In the first semester of the 1947- 1948 academic year, it won a First Class Honor Rating
from the Associated Collegiate Press at the University of Minnesota. The faculty adviser to the
Maroon Tiger was King's English professor, Gladstone Lewis Chandler. King's "The Purpose of
Education" was published with a companion piece, "English Majors All?" by a fellow student,
William G. Pickens. Among the many prominent black academicians and journalists who served
an apprenticeship on the Maroon Tiger staff were Lerone Bennett, Jr., editor of Ebony; Brailsford
R. Brazeal, dean of Morehouse College; S. W. Garlington, city editor of New York's Amsterdam
News; Hugh Gloster, president of Morehouse College; Emory 0.Jackson, editor of the Birming-
ham World; Robert E. Johnson, editor ofJet; King D. Reddick of the New York Age; Ira De A. Reid,
chair of the Sociology Department at Atlanta University; and C. A. Scott, editor and general
manager of the Atlanta Daily World. See The Morehouse Alumnus, July 1948, p p 15-16; and Ed-
ward A. Jones, A Candle in the Dark: A History of Morehouse College (Valley Forge, Pa.: Judson Press,
19671, p p 174,260,289-292.
2. Martin Luther King, Sr., with Clayton Riley, Daddy King: A n Autobiography (New York: Wil-
liam Morrow, 1g80), p. 143. In an unpublished autobiographical statement, King, Sr., remem-
bered a meeting between Governor Eugene Talmadge and a committee of blacks concerning the
imposition of the death penalty on a young black man convicted of making improper remarks to
a white woman. King, Sr., reported that Talmadge "sent us away humiliated, frustrated, insulted,
and without hope of redress" ("The Autobiography of Daddy King as Told to Edward A. Jones"
[n.d.], p. 40; copy in CKFC). Six months before the publication of King's article, Georgia's race-
baiting former governor Eugene Talmadge had declared in the midst of his campaign for a new
term as governor that "the only issue in this race is White Supremacy." On 1 2 November, the
black General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia designated his inauguration date, g
January 1947, as a day of prayer. Talmadge died three weeks before his inaug;ration. See ~ i l -
liam Anderson, The Wild M a n from Sugar Creek: The Political Career of Eugene Talmadge (Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1975)~p p 226-237; Joseph L. Bernd, "White Su-
premacy and the Disfranchisement of Blacks in Georgia, 1946," Georgza Historical Quarterly 66
(Winter 1982): 492-501; Clarence M. Wagner, Profiles of Black Georgza Baptists (Atlanta: Bennett
Brothers, 1980)~p. 104; and Benjamin E. Mays, Born to Rebel: A n Autobiography (Athens: Univer-
sity of Georgia Press, 1987). pp. 2 2 1-223. I 2 3
TThhee MMaarrttiinn LLuutthheerr KKiinngg,, JJrr.. PPaappeerrss PPrroojjeecctt
Feb over the masses. Still others think that education should furnish them with
1947 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 fulfill-
ing 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.
T h e 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. T h e most dangerous criminal may be the man
gifted with reason, but with no morals.
T h e 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 inten-
sively; 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 char-
acter-that is the goal of true education. T h e complete education gives one
not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concen-
trate. T h e broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accu-
mulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social
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.

What should be the purpose of Education? Education helps a person hone their communication skills by learning how to read, write, speak and listen. Education develops critical thinking. ... Education helps an individual meet basic job qualifications and makes them more likely to secure better jobs. Education promotes gender equality and helps empower girls and women. ... More items...