To the Editor:
The late, great John W. Gardner once told me a story that sums up rather well the point of your Page 1 article on student mindset (“Mindset May Influence Poor Students’ Academics,” Aug. 3, 2016).
He was attending an educational conference on urban education with Martin Luther King Jr. many years ago when the keynote speaker, an African-American school administrator, said: “Our first and highest priority must be to teach children to read.”
King leaned over to Gardner and whispered: “No. Our first and highest priority must be to teach children to believe in themselves.”
Ron Wolk is the founding editor of Education Week and the chair emeritus of the board of its nonprofit publisher, Editorial Projects in Education. The views in this letter are his own.
A version of this article appeared in the August 24, 2016 edition of Education Week as Educators’ Highest Priority: Teach Students To Believe in Themselves