"My experience has taught me," he says, "that the surest way to success in education, and in any other line for that matter, is to stick close to the common and familiar things—things that concern the greater part of the people the greater part of the time."
It was this belief in the close relation between school and life that caused him to have his students, at the beginning of the building of Tuskegee, cut down the trees, plant the crops, make the bricks, build the buildings, cook the food, care for the dormitories, look after the live stock, and do everything that was to be done about the place. He wanted his students to learn to do well all these tasks that they would face in later life. And he also wanted them to learn that it was a perfectly honorable and dignified and sensible thing to labor, to work, to do anything that was honest and useful.
Perhaps there is no better way of understanding Washington's ideas of education and just what he was striving to do at Tuskegee than to describe the commencement exercises at this school.
"On the platform before the audience is a miniature engine to which steam has been piped, a miniature frame house in course of construction, and a piece of brick wall in process of erection. A young man in jumpers comes on the platform, starts the engine and blows the whistle. Where-
- "My Larger Education," by Booker T. Washington, p. 139.