"Free" Education
And Some Historical Perspective

Dateline: 13 January 2016 AD

I recently heard about a study that found many college students these days are seriously lacking in critical thinking skills. The amazing interview above is clear and compelling (and embarrassing) evidence of this.

College student Keely Mullen is spearheading a protest movement to get the the government to provide free college tuition, and forgive all student loan debt

At 40 seconds into the interview, Neil Cavuto asks her who is going to pay for it. Her confusion is truly a LOL moment.

Kelly's halting response reflects the standard non-thought of a rising new generation of socialist-indoctrinated, government-dependent, debt-slaves.

She could have easily turned the tables on Cavuto by telling him that such a massive government give-away program could be funded the same way Cavuto's generation has managed to fund so many "free lunch" government giveaways...

Simply borrow the money and have future generations labor to pay it off though high and onerous taxation. 

"Why should your generation be able to spend so much money it doesn't have and the my generation can't, Neil?" 

"That's just not fair."

"It's also very intolerant."

I looked on the internet to see if maybe I could learn more about Keely Mullen. I found This Web Page with some background. It appears that she has grown up in a relatively wealthy, and profoundly confused environment. I wish her nothing but the best.


Some historical perspective is useful at times like this....

As I mentioned a few blogs back, I have recently read "Working With The Hands" by Booker T. Washington. The book discusses Washington's work at establishing the Tuskegee Institute back in the early years of the 20th century.

Most of the students at Tuskegee were dirt-poor black men and women. They were the children of former slaves. Some of them could afford to pay the $8 a month tuition to the school, but many could not. So Tuskegee came up with a plan for "free" tuition. 

Students who were accepted to the school on the free tuition plan signed a contract agreeing to work for the school, where needed, for 10 hours a day. In return, they received room and board and attended night classes for two hours each evening (after working a 10 hour day).

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The 10 hours of work was in the school's farm, or making bricks, or building school buildings, or building roads, or whatever needed to be done.

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These "night students" also accumulated credits for their hours of work. After one or two years of earning credits and going to night classes, the student could then enroll in the "regular day school" where they would be employed with their hands, working only two days out of the week and spending four days in the classroom.

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Booker T. Washington writes in his book...

"I have been asked many times about the progress of the students in the night school as compared with those in the day school. In reality, there is little difference. A student who studies two hours at night and works with his hands ten hours during the day, naturally covers less ground in the text-books than the day student, yet in real sound growth and the making of manhood, I question whether the day student has much advantage over the student in the night school. There is an indescribable something about work with the hands that tends to develop a student's mind. The night-school students take up their studies with a degree of enthusiasm and alertness that is not equalled in the day classes."

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Another quote from the book...

"One of the advantages of the night school at Tuskegee is in the sifting-out process of the student body. Unless a student has real grit in him and means business, he will not continue very long to work with his hands ten hours a day for the privilege of studying two hours a night. Though much of the work done by students at an industrial school like Tuskegee does not pay, the mere effort at self-help on the part of the student is of the greatest value in character building."

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Booker T. Washington was a big advocate of the whole concept of "self-help" by working with the hands, avoiding debt, and being a person of high character. These concepts are becoming more and more alien in our modern culture. 

"When any people, regardless of race or geographical location, have not been trained to habits of industry, have not been given skill of hand in youth, and taught to love labour, a direct result is the breeding of a worthless idle class..."

"If a community has been educated exclusively on books and has not been trained in habits of applied industry, an unwholesome tendency to dodge honest productive labour is likely to develop."

—Booker T. Washington


Anonymous said...

Mr. Kimball,

The date on your post states 2015. I believe this to be in error.

Great post. I will be using this in a lesson next week for my children.

Ouida Gabriel

Herrick Kimball said...


It was an error. I have corrected it. Thank you.

I am delighted that you will be using this post as a lesson for your children.

Mel said...

Have you heard of College of the Ozarks? They do something similar. It seems Mr. Washington had a very keen insight into the future.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know of any famous or exceptionally successful Tuskegee
graduate from this era and if they were day or night students.

Mike Snow

Herrick Kimball said...


Chapter XIX of the book, titled, "Negro Education Not A Failure," begins...

"Several persons holding high official position have said recently that it does not pay, from any point of view, to educate the Negro; and that all attempts at his education have so far failed to accomplish any good results."

Booker T. then goes on to answer whether "the Negro is responding to the efforts... to place him upon a higher plane of civilization."

It's an interesting chapter. But Chapter XVII speaks to your question more. Titled, "Some Tangible Results," it tells the story of several Tuskegee students who have achieved material success and been a force for good in their respective communities. Some of these people were tradesmen, many were farmers. Chapter XVII, "Spreading The Tuskegee Spirit," is also full of such examples.

In "Tillers of the Soil" (Chapter XI), BTW tells of the yearly "Farmer's Conference" in which graduates of Tuskegee assembled to share their successes as farmers, debt-free landowners and homeowners, and encourage others of their race "to follow agriculture with intelligence and diligence."

I don't know of graduates who were famous but, by the standards of their day, many apparently achieved prosperity by dint of their education, self discipline, delayed gratification, and very hard work.... with their hands.

BTW does make it clear in a few places that not all students were able to stick with the Tuskegee program. It sounds like he ran a very "tight ship," with high standards and expectations. Almost like military boot camp in some ways.

Unknown said...

You have to remember they are only getting a 9th grade education, and a 12th grade is free;>)