Booker T. Washington and Industrial Education

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Booker T. Washington advocated for an industrial education that emphasized the necessity of manual labor. Booker T. Washington grew up as a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia. He was unsure of the exact date of his birth or birthplace. His mother worked as the plantation cook and they lived in the kitchen. After he was freed, Washington moved to West Virginia with his family.

He later went on to begin his pursuit of education. In his biography Up From Slavery Washington continuously mentioned his appreciation for the hard labor he had to endure during his time as a slave.

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Manual labor helped Booker T. Washington throughout his life in numerous ways including helping him overcome his obstacles, understanding independence, and morality through hard work. While these methods of education are considered controversial, they are very beneficial and can help in one’s everyday life.

Manual labor teaches the importance of helping others and working toward success. Booker T. shows that it helped him overcome his obstacles. In his autobiography, Booker states, “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has received in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed” (Washington 23). Booker says that by overcoming obstacles through hard labor he had greater success in life.

His life as a slave taught him the value of hard work and labor. Washington worked for his enrollment into Hampton, by which he learned the importance of hard work and dignity. His lack of money also taught him humility and sacrifice. These qualities are both what helped him through his life and what he is remembered for.

Booker shows how hard work can lead to independence. If you can prove that one can do the work than you people will trust you to be able to get the work done and will therefor give you more responsibility, and will responsibility come freedom. If you get to know someone and they prove that they can do the labor, by showing that they can commit, you develop trust and respect. “Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.

When I have read of labor troubles between employers and employees, I have often thought that many strikes and similar disturbances might be avoided if the employers would cultivate the habit of getting nearer to their employees, of consulting and advising with them, and letting them feel that the interests of the two are the same” (Washington 88)

While many believe that this style of education is wrong, Booker is the perfect example of why it’s right. He grew to strive for education and knowledge, by working for it. In his autobiography Booker states, “…surprised to receive a letter from General Armstrong, asking me to return to Hampton, partly as a teacher…” (Washington 50). Booker was offered a job because of his hard work and dedication to school and education. He was later offered a job to run Hampton. This shows that hard work and dedication, as well as a strive for knowledge and learning, can take you great places.

These examples show how controversial hard work and labor helped Booker throughout his life and his career and can help you too. He continually showed how labor helped him through life’s obstacles such as: helping him overcome his obstacles, understanding independence, and morality through hard work. These are only some of the numerous examples that Booker T. listed within his autobiography. He gave examples of how through hard work and labor he overcame his personal and professional issues like getting into school. These are among many other reasons that manual labor and hard work can both help in one’s everyday life.

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Booker T. Washington and Industrial Education. (2020, Jan 07). Retrieved from