News | 30 Aug 2019

A Quality Education: Scholarship, Excellence and Character


Martin Luther King Jr has given us one of the strongest definitions for the purpose and value of a quality education when he articulated:

“The function of education 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 most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason but no morals. … We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
Martin Luther King Jr., Speech at Morehouse College, 1948

Intelligence plus character’ is the purpose of a quality education. As educators, our goal is to sharpen intellects (scholarship), develop skills both in and outside of the classroom (excellence) and provide students with opportunities to know the difference between right from wrong and harness the disposition to be resilient and handle adversity in a rapidly changing world (character).

As a Principal, it is a privilege to observe, celebrate and reward both the effort and achievement demonstrated by our students. Schools are busy and vibrant communities that allow students to explore their talents and thrive in a learning environment that is based on rigour, a love of learning and high expectations. A purposeful education is about preparing our young men and women for life and this can be achieved by creating opportunities for student participation in sport, the creative arts, outdoor education and community service.

At Northholm, we believe very strongly in preparing our students so they can make a significant contribution within the community by providing them with the opportunity to lead charity events, work with community organisations and promote social awareness. Students need to be supported and challenged academically, but they also need to be given the opportunity to lead others and work collaboratively within a team environment.

A quality education inspires a powerful relationship between School and home that allows students to grow as individuals and find their passions so they can lead a well-rounded life and contribute to a thriving society. The intention is to develop confident and compassionate students, who are effective contributors to society, successful learners, and responsible citizens. We have a moral obligation to provide a learning environment where our students can grow in their understanding of what is good and develop their ability to protect and advance what is good. They need to develop a commitment to serving others, which is an essential manifestation of good character in action. Character involves caring for and respecting others as well as caring for and respecting oneself.

It is  ironic that although our world is increasingly changing, we continue to return to the philosophical thinking of the past in terms of the true purpose of education. Martin Luther King Jr was exactly right when he said “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education” … And those words are just as relevant and important today. You can’t have one without the other.

Northholm Grammar School Principal