Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905 (vol. 5)


The Book Education

Christian education reached a high point of interest and activity among Seventh-day Adventists in the late 1890s and the early 1900s. For twenty or twenty-five years the church had been operating colleges. But except for elementary schools in connection with these institutions of higher learning, little or nothing had been done for small children by way of “church schools” till just before the turn of the century. 5BIO 179.5

Ellen G. White counsels on education were published in 1893 by the International Tract Society in Battle Creek in the form of a 255-page book titled Christian Education. Its messages of instruction were eagerly read and began to influence the membership. Four years later Special Testimonies on Education in its 240 small pages added emphasis to the subject. With Ellen White calling the church to action and with instruction on the conduct of schools available, Seventh-day Adventists began to act. 5BIO 179.6

At Battle Creek College in 1896 and 1897, where G. W. Caviness served as president and Frederick Griggs headed a twelve-grade preparatory school, dedicated instructors developed a normal school for the training of elementary teachers. (See A. W. Spalding, Origin and History, vol. 2, p. 361.) The next year, with E. A. Sutherland serving as college president, several church schools were opened here and there in Michigan. The church school movement spread rapidly. All this intensified the interest of Seventh-day Adventists in Christian education and made the preparation of an Ellen G. White book on the subject particularly timely. 5BIO 179.7

Work on the book Education was begun in Australia by Ellen White and Sarah Peck. Considerable appropriate material was drawn from the two books just mentioned and from other sources such as her Review, Signs, and Youth's Instructor articles. Her addresses on education and letters of counsel to educators added more. Then Ellen White wrote new material to fill in where needed. Writing on April 11, 1900, while still in Australia, she reported: 5BIO 180.1

I have been reading some chapters of the book on education. Sister Peck has been gathering this matter from a mass of my writings, carefully selecting precious bits here and there, and placing them together in harmonious order. I have read three chapters this morning and I think the arrangement is excellent. 5BIO 180.2

I want all our teachers and students to have this book as soon as they possibly can. I can hardly await the process of publication. I want the principles contained in this book to go everywhere. We must take a higher stand on education.—Letter 58, 1900. 5BIO 180.3

Her return to the United States from Australia later in 1900 and the travels and labors in the field in 1901 greatly delayed the work on the proposed book, but the summer of 1902 gave some time for work on it, as well as Testimonies, volume 7. 5BIO 180.4

As Ellen White and those who worked with her were eager that books intended for both the church and the world should be most effective in their mission, it was not unusual for them to submit the manuscripts while in preparation to one or more qualified readers who could give counsel. Writing on July 19, 1902, to Mrs. Druillard, Ellen White mentioned her work on Education and reported: 5BIO 180.5

I have carefully read all this matter. I feared that my eyes would not be strong enough to finish reading it, but I cried unto the Lord in prayer, and He heard me.—Letter 116, 1902. 5BIO 180.6

And she asked this trusted worker and friend to read the manuscript and report. Here is her request: “I have had a copy of this book, in manuscript form, sent to you to read. We are now waiting for you to return it, with your criticism.”— Ibid. 5BIO 181.1

Two weeks earlier W. C. White sent some sections to Professor Sutherland, now the president of Emmanuel Missionary College. He outlined what was expected in such readings: 5BIO 181.2

We have sent to you several sections of copy prepared for Mother's educational book, with the request that you shall read it carefully and critically. We request you to mark carefully any passage which may seem to be difficult to understand, which may seem to be incomplete, or which may in your judgment be out of place in this book. In fact, we request you to comment and criticize freely upon what you read.... 5BIO 181.3

You will notice that since you saw the manuscript last, a wider range has been taken. More of the plan of redemption has been worked in by drawing from Mother's published works, such as Patriarchs and Prophets, Great Controversy, Desire of Ages, Mount of Blessing, and Christ's Object Lessons. This has required much labor; but we hope that the book is sufficiently strengthened to compensate both for the labor and for the delay. Please tell me what you think about this.—20 WCW, pp. 53, 54. 5BIO 181.4