Hand - Practical Philosophy
To the founder, practical work experience was a vital element of a well-rounded education. In the early 1920s, at a time when only 15 percent of American jobs available were "white collar," Brown believed American's higher education was greatly unbalanced. Instead of pure book learning, the founder sought a form of learning that also involved practical skill and spiritual instruction.
"Emphasis should be placed equally on the head, heart and hands. If we neglect any of these in our teaching, the result will be an unbalanced person," Brown said.
Brown wanted his institution to stand apart from other schools of the early 20th century that seemed to teach that the purpose of a meaningful education was to avoid physical labor. Good, hard work was essential and healthy, Brown believed.
Brown himself was no stranger to hard work. As a young man, he was forced to quit his formal education to work in a lime kiln. As a former president of Scaritt Institute and founder of his own educational institution, Brown had demonstrated that labor-oriented work is no hindrance to success.
Five days a week, students were expected to work four hours to learn a practical skill in addition to their four hours of classes six days weekly. In exchange, they were not charged for their school expenses.
The University became a lively mixture of 24 factories and businesses that not only provided training for the students but also offered real services. Students had access to a sort of little town right on campus. They could purchase clothing at the dress shop or receive aid at the hospital, and a laundry service took care of all the dirty garments. Other services included a beauty salon and barber, a cannery, a print shop, a bank, a shoe store and even an airport. A dairy, 800-acre farm, broom factory, basket-making operation and sorghum mill provided other vocational alternatives.
When JBU students graduated, Brown felt they would be more realistically equipped to be successful in the work world, backed by solid job experience.
"Because men 'know books' is no sure evidence that they are really educated," the founder once wrote. "Education must get through the mind into the heart and hands."
Although today the "white collar" workforce has grown, and vocational schools are now available for students who wish to pursue such a career, the University continues to emphasize the "hand" in academic programs. Majors from biology to business to broadcasting place great emphases on the practical, realistically preparing students today to meet the challenges of the tomorrow's work force.