Booker T Washington and Education

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For instance, Washington accepted segregation of the races, his outward humility, and his opposition to black militancy (Rutkoff and Scott). For this reason, many black intellectuals from Washington’s time were shy about placing him as the spokesperson for the struggle for social recognition. Regardless, Washington’s thoughts on education have remained within the public’s consideration for a number of years, opening the question of how does our current world evaluate, and utilize, what Washington had to contribute to the field of education. Washington was born a Virginian slave in either 1858 or 1859 and, although freed by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, sought employment at age nine in coalmines and salt works. Washington was entirely self-educated: finding the value of knowledge after his first experience with a spelling book. In 1872, Washington moved a few hundred miles to Virginia’s Hampton Institute in Virginia to enhance his education. Washington took employment as a janitor in Hampton so that he could pay his tuition, room, and board. Similar to his peers at Hampton, Washington received a lesson in the value of hard work for moral and economic strength. He worked his way through school and taught for two years at Hampton after graduating (Hine, Hine and Harrold 339). Afterward, Washington took up a position as headmaster at a school in Tuskegee, Alabama. Understanding how Washington found himself as the head of a school is crucially important for contextualizing his contributions to the philosophy of education in the early parts of black freedom within the United States. Because Washington employed personal initiative and hard work in reaching a place of dignity, he wanted to share that experience with all black people. His take on education was representative of the fact that he was not an intellectual. rather he was a man that employed action to achieve the means of survival (Rutkoff and Scott). He wanted black people in the south to value the need for industrial education from the perspective as both American and African. Washington emphasized the industrial curriculum as a means of a stepping-stone toward race independence. however, this emphasis does not represent an inherent belief in the incapacity of blacks to master scholarly subjects as well. Rather, one man may go into a community prepared to supply the people there an analysis of Greek sentences. The community may or may not at that time be prepared for, or feel the need of, Greek analysis, but it may feel the need of bricks and houses and wagons (Washington 156-157). Washington’s intent by advocating the industrial curriculum was to grant these blacks the ability to break cycles of perpetual debt brought on by a lack of independence from the sharecropping system, which kept individuals from learning the tools and competences necessary for work that is more skilled. As a man of action, who achieved a high status by working hard and taking the extra step, Washington saw the production of value with one’