Special Testimonies On Education


Chapter 7—Teachers and Teaching

True education means more than taking a certain course of study. It is broad. It includes the harmonious development of all the physical powers and the mental faculties. It teaches the love and fear of God, and is a preparation for the faithful discharge of life's duties. SpTEd 47.1

There is an education that is essentially worldly. Its aim is success in the world, the gratification of selfish ambition. To secure this education many students spend time and money in crowding their minds with unnecessary knowledge. The world accounts them learned; but God is not in their thoughts. They eat of the tree of worldly knowledge, which nourishes and strengthens pride. In their hearts they become disobedient and estranged from God; and their entrusted gifts are placed on the enemy's side. Much of the education at the present time is of this character. The world may regard it as highly desirable; but it increases the peril of the student. SpTEd 47.2

There is another kind of education that is very different. Its fundamental principle, as stated by the greatest Teacher the world has ever known, is, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” Its aim is not selfish; it is to honor God, and to serve him in the world. Both the studies pursued and the industrial training have this object in view. The word of God is studied; a vital connection with God is maintained, and the better feelings and traits of character are brought into exercise. This kind of education produces results as lasting as eternity. For “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” and better than all other knowledge is an understanding of his word. SpTEd 48.1

What shall be the character of the education given in our schools? Shall it be according to the wisdom of this world, or according to that wisdom which is from above? Will not teachers awake to their responsibility in this matter, and see that the word of God has a larger place in the instruction given in our schools? SpTEd 48.2

Teachers are to do more for students than to impart a knowledge of books. Their position as guide and instructor of youth is most responsible; for to them is given the work of molding mind and character. Those who undertake this work should possess well-balanced, symmetrical characters. They should be refined in manner, neat in dress, careful in all their habits; and they should have that true Christian courtesy that wins confidence and respect. The teacher should be himself what he wishes his students to become. SpTEd 48.3

Teachers are to watch over their students, as the shepherd watches over the flock entrusted to his charge. They should care for souls as they that must give account. SpTEd 48.4

The teacher may understand many things in regard to the physical universe; he may know all about the structure of animal life, the discoveries of natural science, the inventions of mechanical art; but he cannot be called educated, he is not fitted for his work as an instructor of youth, unless he has in his own soul a knowledge of God and of Christ. He cannot be a true educator until he is himself a learner in the school of Christ, receiving an education from the divine Instructor. SpTEd 49.1

God is the source of all wisdom. He is infinitely wise, and just, and good. The wisest men that ever lived cannot comprehend him. They may profess to be wise; they may glory in their great attainments; but mere intellectual knowledge, aside from the great truths that center in Christ, is as nothingness. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom; ... but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth.” SpTEd 49.2

If men could see for a moment beyond the finite vision, if they could catch a glimpse of the Eternal, every mouth would be stopped in its boasting. Men, living in this little atom of a world, are finite; God has unnumbered worlds that are obedient to his laws, and are conducted with reference to his glory. When men have gone as far in scientific research as their limited powers will permit, there is still an infinity beyond what they can apprehend. SpTEd 49.3

Before men can be truly wise, they must realize their dependence upon God, and be filled with his wisdom. God is the source of intellectual as well as spiritual power. The greatest men, who have reached what the world regards as wonderful heights in science, are not to be compared with the beloved John or the great apostle Paul. It is when intellectual and moral power are combined that the greatest standard of manhood is reached. God will accept such a man as a worker together with himself in the training of minds. SpTEd 50.1

To know one's self is great knowledge. The teacher who rightly estimates himself will let God mold him and discipline his mind. And he will acknowledge the source of his power. For “what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7. Self-knowledge leads to humility and trust in God; but it does not take the place of efforts for self-improvement. He who realizes his own deficiencies should spare no pains to reach the highest possible standard of physical, mental, and moral excellence. No one should have a part in the training of youth, who will be satisfied with a lower standard. SpTEd 50.2

The true teacher will try by precept and example to win souls to Christ. He must receive the truth in the love of it, and let it cleanse his heart, and mold his life. Every teacher should be under the full control of the Holy Spirit. Then Christ can speak to the heart, and his voice is the voice of love. And the love of God, received into the heart, is an active power for good, quickening and enlarging the mind and soul. With his own heart warm with divine love, the teacher will lift up the Man of Calvary, not to give the students a casual glance, but to hasten their attention until Jesus shall seem to them the “Chiefest among ten thousand,” and the One “altogether lovely.” SpTEd 50.3

The Holy Spirit is an effective helper in restoring the image of God in the human soul, and its efficiency and power have not been appreciated in our schools. It came into the schools of the prophets, bringing even the thought into harmony with the will of God. There was a living connection between heaven and these schools; and the joy and thanksgiving of loving hearts found expression in songs of praise in which angels joined. SpTEd 51.1

The Holy Spirit comes to the world as Christ's representative. It not only speaks the truth, but it is the truth—the faithful and true Witness. It is the great Searcher of hearts, and is acquainted with the characters of all. SpTEd 51.2

The Holy Spirit has often come to our schools, and has not been recognized, but has been treated as a stranger, perhaps even as an intruder. Every teacher should know and welcome this heavenly guest. If the teachers will open their own hearts to receive the Spirit, they will be prepared to co-operate with it in working for their students; and when it is given free course, it will effect wonderful transformations. It will work in each heart, correcting selfishness, molding and refining the character, and bringing even the thoughts into captivity to Christ. SpTEd 51.3

The great aim of the teacher should be the perfection of Christian character, in himself and in his students. Teachers, let your lamps be trimmed and burning; and they will not only be lights to your students, but will send out clear and distinct rays to the homes and neighborhoods where your students live, and far beyond into the moral darkness of the world. SpTEd 51.4

May 15, 1896.