Category Archives: Education

It Just Doesn’t Get Any Better than This!

Ahhh, It’s like Friday Night Lights at Jack Britt High School in Fayetteville, NC.

It is Homecoming, the kids are pumped, the Band is marching, and there’s no question that “we’re” going to win!
I know, because I’m with one of the athletic coaches at “JB” and rumor had it that the score would be around “40 to 7”

Jack Britt is an exemplary High School, though it’s larger than I’d ever seen, almost 2,000 students, above average in all sorts of areas, starting with academics.

As Assistant Principal Doris Taylor told me, “Many of our students happen to be good athletes, rather than many of our athletes happen to be good students.”

That perspective permeates the school and was brought home to me Wednesday evening as I stood at the finish line of the track meet with Coach Stoker. As some of the cross country racers who had already finished walked by, he pointed to one girl and said, “See that tall one?” “She’s all A’s… And she’s a great runner too.”

Hangin’ with a coach these last couple of days (while also going to area high- and middle schools) brought home to me the critical importance of athletics in academic endeavors. Sure, even the Greeks stressed that several millennia ago.

What I mean is that coaches teach life skills that you just don’t get in a book. Experiencing being knocked down emotionally as well as physically, and yet, getting up and going at it again. If something doesn’t work, try something else.

Accepting defeat as part of growing, but never part of quitting.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” And teamwork, mutual respect, and leadership, and all the rest.

In a word… Character.

As several Jack Britt HS graduates came up to say “Hi” to Coach Stoker, I could see what a positive influence he was (and is still) on his former student-athletes.

Oh yes, the final score was, Jack Britt High School 60, Visitors 13.

First Trip of the Summer

I met the most amazing people last week… people who care about our youth and our country… on a 4-day trip that took me to Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.

Thursday, at 6am: out the door to my 1st stop: New Haven, CT, home to Yale University and people blessed with opportunities others seem unable even to dream of.

But I was going to meet a couple at the Varick AME Zion Church, just one mile up the road from Yale: Wendy Tyson-Wood and her husband, Ken Cook.
The run-down appearance of the street the church is on, Dixwell Avenue, gives the immediate impression that this is where those without the dreams live. Yet Wendy and her husband are working to help the church develop its summer camp program into summer enrichment called ‘The Booker T. Washington Academy.’

In researching a curriculum to develop, Wendy came across the BTW Society website and saw how our ‘Booker T. Way’ could be the theme to motivate and tie it all together. They clearly have their hearts into creating a positive learning environment that will bring dividends in brighter, motivated students down the road… perhaps even to Yale!!

I was introduced to the kids in their program, from kindergarten to 7th grade, about thirty in all, and thrilled to see them setting our, ‘I CHOOSE’ motto and ‘Booker T. Way’ motivating principles to a rap beat and words written by Ms. Flake, their instructor.

To see our encapsulated version of Booker T.’s practical approach to education come alive through the energized voices of thirty children was exciting. I’m waiting for the video to show you.
And that was just the start of a great four-day trip. Stay tuned…

Too Many People Go To College

Issues & Views Editor Elizabeth D. Wright has graciously allowed us to reprise timeless articles from her Newsletter. This article suggests that it’s time to reconsider the benefits of a practical, entrepreneurial education.

by Leon Podles

Despite today’s worship of the college credential, most real wealth in our society is still gained not through education and the professions but through entrepreneurial activity. Higher education as it now exists in America simply doesn’t develop the qualities of initiative and aggressiveness necessary to succeed in business. Often it undermines them.

American education can be particularly inhospitable to males. Patricia Sexton in The Feminized Male shows how energetic and assertive boys are punished because they cannot function in classrooms taught by women wl assume that the quiet, non-physical behavior of a girl is the only type prop to school. Active boys consequently often do poorly in school. This is an especially massive problem in America inner cities, where the boys grow t with fewer civilizational restraints c their innate male natures.

Few of these overactive boys will ever become great successes in a world of conventional academic schooling They could excel and become productive citizens, however, if directed instead toward work, practical vocation and business. Consider that when teacher describes a student as aggressive or physically active, she is saying he is a problem. But if a businessman or trades employer describes a worker as aggressive, he is paying a compliment.
The most aggressive boys have always gone into business. Today, the poor ones often end up dealing drugs.

Boys who go the legitimate route, however, can end up being very productive indeed. In 1995, the U.S. Trust Company surveyed a sample of America’s biggest earners and found that less than half of them had completed college, while 29% never went at all. Instead of learning to conform to academic expectations, they were out adding value, making products, and earning money—in ways that are not taught in schools today.

(from: I & V summer ’95; orig: American Enterprise: Sep/Oct, ’95)

On Leadership

By Ronald Court

It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I was about to share some thoughts on his leadership. But many have already said much. I may only repeat.

Instead, I want to share the gist of a recent article on leadership in Chief Executive magazine highlighting the Best Companies for Leaders.

For the last three years, Proctor & Gamble has been rated #1 or 2. Here is what P&G’s CEO A.G. Lafley, has to say:

“We focus on individual leadership… How can you personally become the best leader that you can be? … We talk about inspirational leadership because we want courageous and inspiring leaders. The days of command and control are over.”

“We are a pure meritocracy. We don’t care where you went to school, whether you have an MBA, or what your country of origin is.” Lafley continues. “All we care about is that with character and integrity, you deliver outstanding business results… Do that and you move ahead.”

On this day, let us remember that Booker T. Washington had a dream also. A dream that MLK Jr. embraced and honed and clarified with his own powerful rhetoric. Let us also remember that even as today’s politicos pontificate, there are hundreds, thousands of companies, big and small, who have already proven that the dreams of Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King Jr. are already a reality to those who would pursue them.

Head, Hands & Heart

By Ronald Court

To help yourself
And your fellow man,
Train your head,
Your heart, and your hand.
       Langston Hughes

Mr. Hughes paid tribute to BTW in 1941 with The Ballad of Booker T..

Booker T. may even have coined the phrase “heads, hands & heart” for I can’t find anyone using it earlier he in the 1880’s. BTW surely made it famous… and years before any “4H” Club came into being. For the record, Booker T. also widely preached the 4th “H” (Hearth…Home).

Among Booker T’s many abilities was a rare ability to express in plain and simple terms, his refined and sophisticated philosophy. He “connected” with people everywhere. Today, to become “self-actualized” in fancy-shmancy psychological terminology, one “engages the Mind Body & Soul” (read… Head Hand & Heart). Booker T. was here way before “New Age” came along.

To be a whole person, you cannot divorce training the heart or soul from the mind or body. By heart, Booker T. clearly meant living a moral life. with character… and faith. I’d like to believe that Langston Hughes, darling of the Harlem Renaissance, got that.

Considering BTW’s Atlanta Address

By Ronald Court

Some time ago, I sent an e-mail to Gale-Thompson Inc., bibliography publishers, to object to their reference of BTW’s 1895 speech at the Atlanta Exposition as the Atlanta “compromise.” The company recently acknowledged that it will no longer use that pejorative term, which was, after all, coined years later by WEB DuBois in disparaging Booker T’s advocacy of a non-confrontational approach to solving “the race problem.”

Booker T. spoke of much more in that famous speech. Read it for yourself, along with an excellent interpretation of it by Gloria Y. Jackson, Booker T. Washington’s own great grand-daughter here.

Common Sense

By Ronald Court

It never ceases to amaze me how Booker T’s down-to-earth approach to practical living continues to be so relevant, even 90 years after he has passed on.
I went in for my semi-annual teeth cleaning this afternoon. (Well, OK. My last visit really was two years ago.) During one of those, “Rinse. Now” breaks, I suggested to the dental hygenist that she tell me about herself while she picked away. As I lay there, mouth wide open and finger-full, she volunteered that she had a college degree in English… “But after I graduated, I realized I needed to make a living, so I went back to school and became a dental hygenist.”

Booker T. spent his whole life trying to get us to use common sense in the choices we make. And his work is still not done.

What the 4th of July Means to Me

By Ronald Court

A.M.E. Zon ChurchExactly 126 years ago today in 1881, Booker T. Washington opened the doors to the Tuskegee Normal & Industrial Institute for the first time. He had arrived a month before, but mindfully selected July 4th as opening day, holding the first class in the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Zion church (replica opp.).

Booker T. Washington thus established his school “under the auspices of both religion and patriotism.” Like the founding fathers and other great American leaders (some quoted below) both before and after his time, he seemed to understand the uniquely beneficial power these forces, in just proportion to one another, hold for us all.

“We all can pray. We all should pray. We should ask the fulfillment of god’s will. We should ask for courage, wisdom, for the quietness of soul which comes alone to them who place their lives in His hands. Harry Truman, 33rd US President

“America was founded by people who believed that God was their rock of safety. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it’s all right to keep asking if we’re on His side.”
Ronald Reagan, 40th US President

“Education is useless without the Bible. The Bible was America’s basic textbook in all fields. God’s word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct.”
Noah Webster, “The Schoolmaster of the Nation” 1758-1843