Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students


A Practical Training

Useful manual labor is a part of the gospel plan. The Great Teacher, enshrouded in the pillar of cloud, gave directions to Israel that every youth should be taught some line of useful employment. Therefore it was the custom of the Jews, the wealthy as well as the poorer classes, to teach their sons and daughters some useful trade, so that, should adverse circumstances arise, they would not be dependent upon others, but would be able to provide for their own necessities. They might be instructed in literary lines, but they must also be trained to some craft. This was deemed an indispensable part of their education. CT 307.1

Now, as in the days of Israel, every youth should be instructed in the duties of practical life. Each should acquire a knowledge of some branch of manual labor by which, if need be, he may obtain a livelihood. This is essential, not only as a safeguard against the vicissitudes of life, but from its bearing upon physical, mental, and moral development. Even if it were certain that one would never need to resort to manual labor for support, still he should be taught to work. Without physical exercise no one can have a sound constitution and vigorous health; and the discipline of well-regulated labor is no less essential to the securing of a strong, active mind and a noble character. CT 307.2

Students who have gained book knowledge without gaining a knowledge of practical work cannot lay claim to a symmetrical education. The energies that should have been devoted to business of various lines have been neglected. Education does not consist in using the brain alone. Physical employment is a part of the training essential for every youth. An important phase of education is lacking if the student is not taught how to engage in useful labor. CT 307.3

The healthful exercise of the whole being will give an education that is broad and comprehensive. Every student should devote a portion of each day to active labor. Thus habits of industry will be formed and a spirit of self-reliance encouraged, while the youth will be shielded from many evil and degrading practices that are so often the result of idleness. And this is all in keeping with the primary object of education; for in encouraging activity, diligence, and purity, we are coming into harmony with the Creator. CT 308.1

The greatest benefit is not gained from exercise that is taken as play or exercise merely. There is some benefit in being in the fresh air, and also from the exercise of the muscles; but let the same amount of energy be given to the performance of useful work, and the benefit will be greater. A feeling of satisfaction will be realized, for such exercise carries with it a sense of helpfulness and the approval of conscience for duty well done. CT 308.2

Students should go forth from our schools with educated efficiency, so that when thrown upon their own resources they will have knowledge which they can use and which is needful to success in life. Diligent study is essential, so also is diligent hard work. Play is not essential. Devotion of the physical powers to amusement is not most favorable to a well-balanced mind. If the time employed in physical exercise which step by step leads on to excess were used in working in Christ's lines, the blessing of God would rest upon the worker. The discipline for practical life that is gained by physical labor combined with mental taxation is sweetened by the reflection that it is qualifying mind and body better to perform the work that God designs men to do. The more perfectly the youth understand how to perform the duties of practical life, the greater will be their enjoyment day by day in being of use to others. The mind educated to enjoy useful labor becomes enlarged; through training and discipline it is fitted for usefulness, for it has acquired the knowledge essential to make its possessor a blessing to others. CT 308.3

I cannot find an instance in the life of Christ where He devoted time to play and amusement. He was the great educator for the present and the future life, yet I have not been able to find one instance where He taught the disciples to engage in amusement in order to gain physical exercise. The world's Redeemer gives to every man his work and bids him, “Occupy till I come.” Luke 19:13. In doing this the heart warms to the enterprise. All the powers of the being are enlisted in the effort to obey. We have a high and holy calling. Teachers and students are to be stewards of the grace of Christ, and they are always to be earnest. CT 309.1