As we observe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, most people think of his famous I Have a Dream speech, and well they should. It was brilliant, inspiring, and timeless. But part of Dr. King’s dream also recognized the importance of education, believing that an educated society is a key not only to freedom, but to advancement–for all Americans. At the tender age of 18 he wrote about what he called a “true” education:
The strength of our nation depends on an educated society—a society whose citizens are intellectually curious and who possess the ability to read and think critically. A truly educated society, however, must also exercise good character and integrity.
Dr. King: Character Matters
Dr. King recognized that simply having a strong command of subject matter doesn’t serve the common good. A mind can be filled with facts and information. However, unless knowledge is coupled with a genuine desire to help others, that knowledge does little good. In fact, it can be quite the opposite:
Keeping Dr. King’s Dream Alive through Education
Entire books could be written about how we can activate Dr. King’s instruction on education. However, here are a few things teachers, parents, students, and community members can do to keep his dream alive:
- Let’s use our knowledge to positively impact the lives of others–to serve the greater good.
- We must help our youth to build a solid core of ethics and integrity—an inner compass.
- Do the right thing even when no one else is looking.
The list of things we as a society can do is endless. It may feel overwhelming, but the important thing is to start somewhere. Start small, and start today. Together, on this special day of remembrance, we can keep Dr. King’s dream alive.
About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and competency-based education.
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