The Youth’s Instructor


March 31, 1898

The True Object of Education

Part 1.


In the education and training of youth, the great object should be the development of character. Every individual should be fitted rightly to discharge the duties of the present life, and to enter at last upon the future, immortal life. Moral, intellectual, and physical culture must be combined in order to have well-developed, well-balanced men and women. YI March 31, 1898, par. 1

Education in book knowledge alone prepares the way for superficial, shallow thoughts. The neglect of some parts of the living machinery, while other parts are put to the tax, and wearied and overworked, makes many youth too weak to resist the temptation to evil practises. They have little power of self-control. The physical machinery being untaxed, the blood is called too liberally to the brain, and the nervous system is overworked. The brain is overworked, and Satan brings in his temptations to engage in forbidden pleasures, to “have a change,” to “let off steam.” Yielding to these temptations, they do wrong, injuring themselves, and doing mischief to others. This may be done only in sport, but some one must undo the mischief which they do under temptation. While studying authors and lessonbooks part of the time, students should study the human machinery with the same application, and at the same time use the physical organs in manual labor. Thus they answer the purpose of their Creator, and become useful, efficient men and women. YI March 31, 1898, par. 2

The student should place himself in school, if he can, through his own exertions, pay his way as he goes. He should study one year, and then work out for himself the problem of what constitutes true education. He should set himself to work. The learning heaped up by years of continued study is deleterious to spiritual interests. Let teachers be prepared to give good counsel to the student who enters school. Let them not advise him to give years exclusively to the study of books. Let the youth learn, and then impart to others the benefits he has received. If the student will humbly seek him, the Lord of heaven will open his understanding. The student should take time to review what he has gained in book knowledge; he should critically examine the advancement he has made in the schoolroom, and he should combine physical exercise with study. Thus he will acquire an education that will enable him to come out with solid principles, an all-round man. YI March 31, 1898, par. 3

Had teachers been learning the lessons the Lord would have them learn, there would not be a class of students whose bills must be settled by some one else, or they must leave college with a heavy debt hanging over them. Educators are not doing their work faithfully when they know a young man to be devoting years of his time to the study of books, not seeking to earn means to pay his own way, and yet do nothing in the matter. Every case should be investigated; every youth should be kindly inquired after, and his financial situation ascertained. YI March 31, 1898, par. 4

Many would be glad of the privilege of spending a short time in school, where they could be brought up on some points of study. There are those who would consider it an inestimable privilege to have the Bible opened to them in its pure, unadulterated simplicity; to be taught how to come close to hearts, and how, in simple, straightforward lines, to teach the truth so that it shall be clearly discerned. YI March 31, 1898, par. 5

One study to be put before the student as most valuable should be the exercise of his God-given reason in harmony with his physical powers. The right use of one's self is the most valuable lesson that can be learned. We are not to do brain work, and stop there, or make physical exertion, and stop there; we are to make the best use of the various parts that compose the human machinery,—brain, bone, muscle, head, and heart. No man is fit for the ministry who does not understand this. YI March 31, 1898, par. 6

The student who has neglected the training of the muscles proportionately with his mental powers should seek to obtain an all-round education. If he feels it beneath his dignity to take hold of the unlearned parts, and catch up the science of true education, he is unfitted to take hold of the work of educating youth. He need not think himself qualified to act as a teacher; for his very teaching will be superficial and one-sided. He does not understand that he lacks the very education that would make him a blessing, and would secure to him in the future, immortal life the benediction, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” YI March 31, 1898, par. 7

Every student in our schools should begin his character-building upon the word of God. He is to study for time and for eternity. Paul's charge to Timothy was, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” We cannot, in this day of peril, accept teachers merely because they have been in school two, three, four, or five years. The question is, With all their acquisition of knowledge, have they obtained a knowledge of what is truth? Have they searched for truth as for hidden treasure? or have they seized the surface rubbish in the place of pure truth, thoroughly winnowed? We cannot consent, at this period of time, to expose our youth to the chance of learning a mixture of truth and error. The youth who come from school without feeling the importance of making the word of God the first study, the main study, are not qualified to become teachers. YI March 31, 1898, par. 8

That course of study which is not dictated by the Holy Spirit, which does not embrace the high, holy principles of God's word, will open before the student a course unmarked by the approval of heaven. It will leave gaps, and mistakes, and misunderstandings all along the road he travels. Those who will not give themselves to a deep, earnest, prayerful study of the Scriptures will hold ideas contrary to the principles that should control the life. YI March 31, 1898, par. 9

Will parents who believe the truth, and who realize the importance of knowing the truth that is to make us wise unto salvation, trust their children to schools where error is believed and taught? Who will expose these precious souls to a conflict of changes, and place them where their highest interests are not made the first consideration? YI March 31, 1898, par. 10

If the Lord's will is done, students will not be encouraged to remain in schools continuously for years. This is the devising of man, not the plan of God. The student is not to feel that he must take a classical course before he can enter the ministry. A large number who have done this have disqualified themselves for the labor which it was essential for them to do. The long study of those books which should not be made study-books, unfits the youth for the work to be done in this important period of the world's history. These years of study cultivate habits and methods that cripple their usefulness. They have to unlearn many things which disqualify them for efficiency in any line of the work to be done for this time. YI March 31, 1898, par. 11

Mrs. E. G. White