“[I] stuck to my old line of argument, urging the education of the hand, the head and the heart.” – Booker T. Washington, “My Larger Education,” (1911)
Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson
While there is significant historic disagreement with Mr. Washington’s philosophical orientation toward ‘vocational’ education, what is often omitted in such discussions is his overarching sense of the term “vocation”. The word is derived from its Latin origin, ‘vocare,’ and it means “to call”. Between the 16th to 19th centuries, ‘vocation’ within a given profession was commonly understood as “calling”. “Vocation” or “Calling” is inclusive of much more than work involving the “the education of the hand,” which undoubtedly was a Washingtonian emphasis in the late 19th and early 20th Century. Notwithstanding, a “heart” enflamed with a personal sense of passion and integrity toward one’s work, a “head” filled with the requisite knowledge for one’s field and, lastly, “hands” that are ready and willing to translate both “heart” and “head” into practical experience within a specified field are the sum whole of Mr. Washington’s notion of “heart,” “head” and “hands”. Thus, Heart (Character) + Head (Competence) + Hands (Capability) = (W)holistic Calling.
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.
7th President, Tuskegee University
2 responses to “Tuskegee University: The Daily Word from Washington with Presidential Commentary”
For the last four years I have been researching the catholic faith. This research was prompted by my son attending a Catholic High school and my ignorance of the community. Often I would hear the request for the young men to become part of the “vocation”. I simply assumed that the request was for all of the young men to become priest. After reading your words I realize that it was more than just an employment opportunity. I believe that call was for the young men to open their hearts to God and the life of selfless serving.