Kump Education Center

Kump Education Center
401 Randolph Avenue
P.O. Box 1106
Elkins, WV 26241


Upcoming Events

Professional Development School

Educational Seminars


Feb 11, 2015

The School of Hard Knocks and the Things They Don’t Tell You

We have all heard the phrase “School of Hard Knocks” used to describe difficult lessons learned outside of school.  History is full of bright people who have had remarkable accomplishments without the benefit of formal schooling, but only humorist Jim Comstock would organize and confer degrees from the School of Hard Knocks.

Jim Comstock was a self-styled journalist who became editor of the News Leader and Hill Billy, and the publisher of several books including Ma, Pa, and Mr. Kennedy and Comstock’s own West Virginia Encyclopedia.   Comstock grew up and lived most of his life in Richwood, WV where he was my father’s classmate and boyhood friend.

The spring after we moved back to West Virginia, I read in the newspaper that the 1997 School of Hard Knocks Commencement would be held at Alderson-Broaddus College.

This was my chance to see how the School of Hard Knocks was organized, so I drove over to Philippi for the event.

Everyone was seated properly in the pews when the invocation was given. Then our speaker began telling a story about the difference between people who are formally educated and those who live and learn to enjoy the hard-knock life.  A friend of his was sitting in church when the preacher said, “Bow your heads for a word of prayer.”  

When the preacher finished the prayer and started the sermon, the friend was resting happily with his head bowed.  Indeed he slept through the whole sermon quite peacefully.  When somebody asked him later why he slept in church, he answered, “The preacher told us to bow our heads for the prayer, but he never told us to look up for the sermon. You have to listen for the things they do not tell you.”

The things they do not tell you make all the difference.  Kump Center is starting a new educational program, and I’ve been thinking about all the things they do not tell you when you go into a new situation.  As teachers we often say the same things over and over, but we do not think to say the things that are simple and important.