Inspirational Living: Life Lessons for Success & Happiness

The Meaning of Education | Booker T. Washington

April 9, 2020

Listen to episode 465 of the Inspirational Living podcast: The Meaning of Education. Edited and adapted from Character Building by Booker T. Washington.

Inspirational Podcast Excerpt: Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast. If you would like to help support the continuation of this podcast with a one-time financial donation, please visit Thank you. Today’s reading was edited and adapted from Booker T. Washington’s book Character Building, which is a collection of Sunday evening talks he delivered to the students of the Tuskegee Institute, the first institution of higher education for African Americans. The book was published in 1902.

It may seem to some of you that I am continually talking to you about education — the right kind of education, how to get an education, and such kindred subjects — but surely no subject could be more pertinent, since the object for which you all are here is to get an education; and if you are to do this, you wish to get the best kind possible.

You will understand, then, I am sure, if I speak often about this, or refer to the subject frequently, that it is because I am very anxious that all of you go out from here with a definite and correct idea of what is meant by education, of what an education is meant to accomplish, what it may be expected to do for one.

We are very apt to get the idea that education means the memorizing of a number of dates, of being able to state when a certain battle took place, of being able to recall with accuracy this event or that event. We are likely to get the impression that education consists in being able to commit to memory a certain number of rules in grammar, a certain number of rules in arithmetic, and in being able to locate correctly on the earth's surface this mountain or that river, and to name this lake and that gulf.