In early 1947, while a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote an article for the campus newspaper entitled, “The Purpose of Education.” In the publication, he maintains that the goal of education should be more than merely accumulating knowledge to become “intelligent.” He writes, “We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
Indeed, over seven decades later, school districts across the country have a renewed focus on developing character within students, including social-emotional learning curricula and supports for student mental health. In Burlington, we leverage social-emotional programs like Caring Schools and Character Strong to help our students cultivate character. Students regularly engage in collaborative and hands-on learning experiences, helping to build social and problem-solving skills. As a system, we learn and refine our practices to create a more equitable system for all students, providing both opportunities to build character and rich academic development. The duality of an education filled with content and character embodies the spirit of Dr. King’s words.
Monday, January 16th, we pause to reflect on and honor the ongoing legacy of Dr. King. The principles of character that guided Dr. King’s life - principles like determination, self-confidence, equity, justice, respect and love - are all qualities that we strive to nourish each day in our students. Join me in celebrating the example and leadership of Dr. King as we work each day to attain the “goal of true education.”
If you are interested in learning more about the life and legacy of Dr. King, I encourage you to visit the following online resources: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute (Stanford University) or The King Center.