Education is an essential part of human life. Considering the problem of education in different parts of America and the history of its development, the education of Afro-Americans in the ex-slaves status can be interesting to dwell upon. It is possible to consider the problem of democratization of the society and an attempt to make education democratic and free for all.
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The author of the book under discussion The Education of Blacks in South, 1860-1935 by Anderson states that popular education system and democracy should be inseparable.
Thus, considering the situation which took place in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it is possible to state that proclaiming democratic ideas in the education, the main goals of Hampton/Tuskegee idea (despite the reputation of the Hampton Institute) were directed at training freedmen to educated people and to be prepared for subordinate role on the territory of the New South.
It can be noticed that some of the actions which took place in the educational system of ex-slaves were directed at maintaining social supremacy of whites under blacks. Thus, the Hampton/Tuskegee idea implemented in Hampton Institute may be considered as both consistent with the democratic ideals of self-determination and equality and not. The closer consideration of the problem is necessary with the discussion of the specific examples which may help understand the situation.
The problem of education was sharp for the society as having agreed on the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution, many people still could not accept the idea of equal schools for both races. Black people did not stated on equal with white population education. According to Anderson (1988), black population set two goals before them, short-range and long-range.
The short-range purpose was directed at offering black population the basic literacy skills in the democratic society. The long-range purpose of the education for black population of the New South was to create free and equal society (Anderson 1988, 31).
White population was against offering black one classic liberal education. All parties agreed that a new system of education was necessary, but they could not agree on the details. Samuel Armstrong solved the problem and offered the Hampton/Tuskegee idea which was directed at the popularization and democratization of the education for black students offered for Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Hampton, Virginia.
However, “new curriculum offered the possibility of adapting black education to the particular needs and interests of the South’s dominant-class whites” (Anderson 1988, 31). Armstrong was a representative of a social class whose ideas did not coincide with those provided by freedmen. So, he attempted to create a form of education which could be satisfactory for black population but at the same time which would not make those equal to whites.
The special instruction offered particularly for black students carried hidden purpose. White population of America had decided that it was better to reorient the main idea of the social education for ex-slaves rather than tried to destroy it. The elimination of the education for black population might lead to struggle which was undesirable. The decision to implement special instruction was really innovative.
Implementing knowledge in students’ minds with Armstrong’s philosophy, new teachers were trained who could be able to substitute northern teachers in the region and teach other generations the same ideas. One of the main ideas of the Armstrong’s special instruction was the preparation of the ex-slaves for the role of subordinate population in the New South by mans of the methods which were unnoticed for black peoples (Anderson 1988, 36).
The implementation of industrial education in the Hampton model was another step for reaching the purpose of making ex-slaves dependent on southern whites. Hampton Institute did not offer its students neither trade nor agricultural training, only teacher certificates for the first several years (Anderson 1988, 34). This phenomenon can be explained by the main idea of the program.
Whites wanted to remain dominant. Giving an opportunity to trade with other lands by personally grown products made the domination a delusive hope. Black population would have an opportunity to become economically independent and whites could not allow this.
Teaching was a profession which was really important for implementing the ideas whites wanted in the black society. Further, ex-slaves had to teach their children what they knew and in a couple of years when Armstrong’s philosophy was strongly rooted in the black’s society, they were allowed to trade and cultivate lands.
Returning to the problem of industrial education, it should be stated that many people considered it as more intelligent. It was also stated that if black population were offered to work mentally, they would not want to accept manual labor.
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Stating on the intellectual importance of industrial education, whites wanted to make blacks more dependent, still, some black spokesmen placed under question the motives of industrial education (Anderson 1988, 64). However, industrial education was implemented and students received it. Whites also pursued the goal to eliminate the number of criminal cases and poverty as black people were given an opportunity to study, find job and earn for living.
The supremacy of one race under another one was the main purpose of the Hampton/Tuskegee idea. Whites understood that black population was better adapted to the Southern conditions. Thus, to teach back people work with their hands was a good idea, but to make those suitable citizens, they had to be educated. Thus, Hampton/Tuskegee idea was a perfect decision.
The implementation of industrial education gave black people an opportunity to get education which confirmed them that they had to work with their hands, do not wish too much, and remain in their cultural and natural environment (Anderson 1988, 82). Thus, black people received what they wanted, education and equality, even though it was an illusion, and white people, nevertheless, implemented racial hierarchy.
Anderson (1988) tries to provide the idea that the Hampton-Tuskegee model of black education “emerges as a politically expedient device to reconcile hostile southern whites to the idea of universal common schooling for black children, and not so much as a unique form of second-class education to reinforce the social oppression of black southerners” (80).
Still, reading the book under discussion it becomes obvious that the conversation about implementation of equal public education on both white and black citizens is held only during the southern education movement which took place in 1901-1915. During this time white population expressed absolute dissatisfaction with the idea to provide equal public education (Anderson 1988, 101).
It should be mentioned that the fight for equal education for both races lead the movement for struggling for civil and political equality (Anderson 1988, 108). Here comes the question, “Isn’t it the main reason for white Americans’ reluctance to implement equal educational principles?”
Having considered the whole situation from the very beginning up to the end, it may be stated that the unwillingness of white society to implement equal rights of whites and blacks in the education were mostly based on the reluctance to implement equality in other parts of life.
Having created the vision of equal education consistent with the democratic ideals of self-determination, white Americans tried to show black population that they were offered freedom and equality they desired, but at the same time, whites knew that the equality in education was fictional, only its vision was created.
At the same time, it is impossible to argue the fact that Hampton-Tuskegee model cannot be considered as the first step to democratic ideals of self-determination and equality. Black people were given an opportunity to experience freedom, even though it was illusion. Black people understood that they had a dream, having become educated they could formulate a goal and try to reach it.
So, the educational program which was aimed at making black population of the southern part of America dependant on white people provoked the free ideas in the black society. Being educated, black people had an opportunity to think that allowed them to make conclusions and understand who was ruling the society and provide actions to eliminate that domination.
The Hampton/Tuskegee education has never been created to make black society democratic. Proclaiming the idea of equal education, it was aimed at making black people more dependent on white population, but education is a great power. It makes people think, no matter what information they are offered.
The understanding of the hidden motives of the industrial education allowed black society to defend their rights. Looking at the modern situation in the USA makes it possible to conclude that black people managed to reach their aim and become equal with white people, still, they had to struggle for their rights severely.
Thus, it may be concluded that being aware of the blacks’ desire to get freedom and equality with white population, Hampton/Tuskegee idea was implemented in life. On the one hand, black population was shown that their rights are considered and they have an opportunity to get education.
On the other hand, the rights of black people were as distant from those of the white people as before the Hampton/Tuskegee idea implementation. Thanks to the idea of industrial education, Afro-American teachers fulfilled the country that allowed northern white teachers leave the New South.
Having offered black people the idea that they were equal with white people, the supremacy of white people in political, social, and economic life still was present. Furthermore, all the ideas implemented under the Hampton/Tuskegee model were directed at rooting the thought in the minds of black population that they have achieved exactly what they wanted and there is nothing to struggle for.
This was necessary for white Americans for ignoring freedmen and continuing building white dominated society. So, it may be stated that the Hampton/Tuskegee idea was not aimed at being compatible with the democratic ideals of self-determination and equality. This was just a cover which helped white Americans build their dominated society and keeping black people ignorant of this.
Anderson, James D. 1988. The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.