Booker T. Washington and preparatory citizenship
Villarreal, Jason Eduardo
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Booker T. Washington is traditionally portrayed as a pioneer in industrial education. This is not an inaccurate view, but to summarize his life with that description alone reveals a hasty and narrow reading of his work. In truth, his educational program was but a means to the greater end of citizenship as usefulness to one's fellowmen; but because the mass of the people in a large republic are not and cannot ordinarily be engaged in genuine political activity, Washington promoted a civic ethic designed to endow the common people with the skills and habits necessary for tending to their daily needs while simultaneously preparing them to assume the graver responsibilities of politics. His emphasis on technical training, the nobility of work, and the development of virtue in simplicity and self-restraint therefore served a dual purpose. In making the people prudent and useful to themselves and to each other in their private and social lives, Washington hoped to create a pool of conscientiously effective citizens from which future statesmen could be drawn.