Fundamentals of Christian Education


Chapter 18—Education and Health

For generations the prevailing system of education has been destructive to health, and even to life itself. Many parents and teachers fail to understand that in the child's early years the greatest attention needs to be given to the physical constitution, that a healthy condition of body and brain may be secured. It has been the custom to encourage sending children to school when they were mere babies, needing a mother's care. In many instances the little ones are crowded into ill-ventilated schoolrooms, where they sit in improper positions, upon poorly constructed benches, and as the result, the young and tender frames often become deformed. Little children, whose limbs and muscles are not strong, and whose brains are undeveloped, are kept confined, to their injury. Many have but a slight hold on life to begin with, and confinement in school from day to day makes them nervous, and they become diseased. Their bodies are dwarfed in consequence of the exhausted condition of the nervous system. Yet when the lamp of life goes out, parents and teachers do not realize that they were in any way responsible for quenching the vital spark. Standing by the grave of their child, the afflicted parents look upon their bereavement as a special dispensation of Providence, when it was their own inexcusable, ignorant course that destroyed the young life. Under such circumstances, to charge the death to Providence, savors of blasphemy. God wants the little ones to live, and receive a right education, that they may develop a beautiful character, glorify Him in this world, and praise Him in the better world. FE 145.1

Parents and teachers take the responsibility of training these children, yet how few of them realize their duty before God to become acquainted with the physical organism, that they may know how to preserve the life and health of those who are placed in their charge. Thousands of children die because of the ignorance of those who care for them. FE 145.2

Many children have been ruined for life, and some have died, as the result of the injudicious course of parents and teachers, in forcing the young intellect while neglecting the physical nature. The children were too young to be in a schoolroom. Their minds were taxed with lessons when they should have been left untasked until the physical strength was sufficient to support mental effort. Small children should be as free as lambs to run out-of-doors. They should be allowed the most favorable opportunity to lay the foundation for a sound constitution. FE 146.1

Youth who are kept in school, and confined to close study, cannot have sound health. Mental effort without corresponding physical exercise, calls an undue proportion of blood to the brain, and thus the circulation is unbalanced. The brain has too much blood, while the extremities have too little. The hours of study and recreation should be carefully regulated, and a portion of the time should be spent in physical labor. When the habits of students in eating and drinking, dressing and sleeping are in accordance with physical law, they can obtain an education without sacrificing health. The lesson must be often repeated, and pressed home to the conscience, that education will be of little value if there is no physical strength to use it after it is gained. FE 146.2

Students should not be permitted to take so many studies that they will have no time for physical training. The health cannot be preserved unless some portion of each day is given to muscular exertion in the open air. Stated hours should be devoted to manual labor of some kind, anything which will call into action all parts of the body. Equalize the taxation of the mental and physical powers, and the mind of the student will be refreshed. If he is diseased, physical exercise will often help the system to recover its normal condition. When students leave college, they should have better health and a better understanding of the laws of life than when they entered it. The health should be as sacredly guarded as the character. FE 146.3

Many students are deplorably ignorant of the fact that diet exerts a powerful influence upon the health. Some have never made a determined effort to control the appetite, or to observe proper rules in regard to diet. They eat too much, even at their meals, and some eat between meals whenever the temptation is presented. If those who profess to be Christians desire to solve the questions so perplexing to them, why their minds are so dull, why their religious aspirations are so feeble, they need not, in many instances, go farther than the table; here is cause enough, if there were no other. FE 147.1

Many separate themselves from God by their indulgence of appetite. He who notices the fall of a sparrow, who numbers the very hairs of the head, marks the sin of those who indulge perverted appetite at the expense of weakening the physical powers, benumbing the intellect, and deadening the moral perceptions. FE 147.2

The teachers themselves should give proper attention to the laws of health, that they may preserve their own powers in the best possible condition, and by example as well as by precept, may exert a right influence upon their pupils. The teacher whose physical powers are already enfeebled by disease or overwork, should pay special attention to the laws of life. He should take time for recreation. He should not take upon himself responsibility outside of his school work, which will so tax him, physically or mentally, that his nervous system will be unbalanced; for in this case he will be unfitted to deal with minds, and cannot do justice to himself or to his pupils. FE 147.3

Our institutions of learning should be provided with every facility for instruction regarding the mechanism of the human system. Students should be taught how to breathe, how to read and speak so that the strain will not come on the throat and lungs, but on the abdominal muscles. Teachers need to educate themselves in this direction. Our students should have a thorough training, that they may enter upon active life with an intelligent knowledge of the habitation which God has given them. Teach them that they must be learners as long as they live. And while you are teaching them, remember that they will teach others. Your lesson will be repeated for the benefit of many more than sit before you day by day.—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 81-84, 1890. FE 147.4