It’s that time of year when we pause to remember Dr. King. Countless school children listen to the “I Have a Dream” speech. They learn about civil rights protests so people of color could eat where they wanted or vote without any restrictions.

But there’s another cause that Dr. King believed in just as strongly, even before he took up the cause of civil rights.  He believed that a quality education is a civil right and that teaching children to be critical thinkers is one of the most fundamental functions of education.

His own words from a 1947 essay,  The Purpose of Education.

“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 fulfilling 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.

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

So, remember when we teach our children to use their minds well, we are carrying on Dr. King’s dream.