True Education


Chapter 24—Manual Training

At the Creation, work was appointed as a blessing. It meant development, power, happiness. The changed condition of the earth through the curse of sin has brought a change in the conditions of work, yet though now attended with anxiety, weariness, and pain, it is still a source of happiness and development. And it is a safeguard against temptation. Its discipline places a check on self-indulgence, and promotes industry, purity, and firmness. Thus it becomes a part of God’s great plan for our recovery from the Fall. TEd 130.1

Young people should be led to see the true dignity of work. God is a constant worker. All things in nature do their allotted work. Action pervades the whole creation, and in order to fulfill our mission we, too, must be active. TEd 130.2

We are workers together with God. He gives us the earth and its treasures, but we must adapt them to our use and comfort. He causes the trees to grow, but we prepare the timber and build the house. He has hidden in the earth the gold and silver, the iron and coal, but only through work can we obtain them. TEd 130.3

We should show young people that while God has created and constantly controls all things, He has endowed us with a power not wholly unlike His. To us has been given a degree of control over the forces of nature. As God called forth the earth in its beauty out of chaos, so we can bring order and beauty out of confusion. And though all things are now marred with evil, in our completed work we feel a joy similar to His, when, looking on the fair earth, He pronounced it “very good.” TEd 130.4

As a rule, the exercise most beneficial to young people will be found in useful work. Little children find both diversion and development in play, and their sports should be such as to promote not only physical but mental and spiritual growth. As they gain strength and intelligence, the best recreation will be found in some line of useful activity. That which trains the hand to helpfulness and teaches young people to bear their share of life’s burdens, is most effective in promoting growth of mind and character. TEd 131.1

Young people need to be taught that life means earnest work, responsibility, care-taking. They need a training that will make them practical men and women who can cope with emergencies. They should be taught that the discipline of systematic, well-regulated labor is essential not only as a safeguard against the vicissitudes of life but as an aid to all-around development. TEd 131.2

Notwithstanding all that has been said and written concerning the dignity of physical work, the feeling prevails that it is degrading. Young men want to become teachers, clerks, merchants, physicians, lawyers, or to occupy some other position that does not require physical effort. Young women shun housework and seek an education in other lines. These need to learn that no man or woman is degraded by honest toil. That which degrades is idleness and selfish dependence. Idleness fosters self-indulgence, and the result is a life empty and barren—a field inviting the growth of every evil. “The earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected, and is near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.” Hebrews 6:7, 8. TEd 131.3

Many branches of study that consume the student’s time are not essential to usefulness or happiness, but every young person should have a thorough acquaintance with everyday duties. If need be, a young woman can dispense with a knowledge of a foreign language and algebra, or even of the piano, but it is indispensable that she learn to perform efficiently the duties that pertain to homemaking. In many ways, life’s happiness is bound up with faithfulness in common duties. TEd 131.4

Since both men and women have a part in home-making, boys as well as girls should gain a knowledge of household duties. To make a bed and put a room in order, to wash dishes, to prepare a meal, to wash and repair his own clothing, is a training that need not make any boy less manly; it will make him happier and more useful. And if girls, in turn, could learn to use the saw and the hammer, as well as the rake and hoe, they would be better fitted to meet the emergencies of life. TEd 132.1