Child Guidance


Chapter 59—Teaching Useful Trades

Every Child Should Learn Some Trade—The carelessness of parents in failing to furnish employment to the children that they have taken the responsibility of bringing into the world has resulted in untold evil, imperiling the lives of many youth and greatly crippling their usefulness. It is a great mistake to permit young men to grow up without learning some trade.1 CG 355.1

From the pillar of cloud Jesus gave directions through Moses to the Hebrews that they should educate their children to work, that they should teach them trades, and that none should be idle.2 CG 355.2

You should help your children to acquire a knowledge, that, if necessary, they could live by their own labor. You should teach them to be decided in following the calls of duty.3 CG 355.3

Teach Use of Tools—When children reach a suitable age, they should be provided with tools. If their work is made interesting, they will be found apt pupils in the use of tools. If the father is a carpenter, he should give his boys lessons in house building, ever bringing into his instruction lessons from the Bible, the words of Scripture in which the Lord compares human beings to His building.4 CG 355.4

Train Sons in Agriculture—Fathers should train their sons to engage with them in their trades and employments. Farmers should not think that agriculture is a business that is not elevated enough for their sons. Agriculture should be advanced by scientific knowledge. CG 355.5

Farming has been pronounced unprofitable. People say that the soil does not pay for the labor expended upon it, and they bemoan the hard fate of those who till the soil.... But should persons of proper ability take hold of this line of employment, and make a study of the soil, and learn how to plant, to cultivate, and to gather in the harvest, more encouraging results might be seen. Many say, “We have tried agriculture and know what its results are,” and yet these very ones need to know how to cultivate the soil and to bring science into their work. Their plowshares should cut deeper, broader furrows, and they need to learn that in tilling the soil they need not become common and coarse in their natures.... Let them learn to put in the seed in its season, to give attention to vegetation, and to follow the plan that God has devised.5 CG 356.1

Training of Outstanding Value—No line of manual training is of more value than agriculture. A greater effort should be made to create and to encourage an interest in agricultural pursuits. Let the teacher call attention to what the Bible says about agriculture; that it was God's plan for man to till the earth; that the first man, the ruler of the whole world, was given a garden to cultivate; and that many of the world's greatest men, its real nobility, have been tillers of the soil. Show the opportunities in such a life.... CG 356.2

He who earns his livelihood by agriculture escapes many temptations and enjoys unnumbered privileges and blessings denied to those whose work lies in the great cities. And in these days of mammoth trusts and business competition, there are few who enjoy so real an independence and so great certainty of fair return for their labor as does the tiller of the soil.6 CG 356.3

Fresh Produce Is of Special Value—Families and institutions should learn to do more in the cultivation and improvement of land. If people only knew the value of the products of the ground, which the earth brings forth in their season, more diligent efforts would be made to cultivate the soil. All should be acquainted with the special value of fruits and vegetables fresh from the orchard and garden.7 CG 357.1

Schools to Give Instruction in Useful Trades—Manual training is deserving of far more attention than it has received. Schools should be established that, in addition to the highest mental and moral culture, shall provide the best possible facilities for physical development and industrial training. Instruction should be given in agriculture, manufactures—covering as many as possible of the most useful trades—also in household economy, healthful cookery, sewing, hygienic dressmaking, the treatment of the sick, and kindred lines. Gardens, workshops, and treatment rooms should be provided, and the work in every line should be under the direction of skilled instructors. CG 357.2

The work should have a definite aim and should be thorough. While every person needs some knowledge of different handicrafts, it is indispensable that he become proficient in at least one. Every youth, on leaving school, should have acquired a knowledge of some trade or occupation by which, if need be, he may earn a livelihood.8 CG 357.3

A Training of Double Value—There should have been connected with the schools establishments for carrying on various branches of labor, that the students might have employment and the necessary exercise out of school hours.... Then a practical knowledge of business could have been obtained while their literary education was being gained.9 CG 357.4

Industrial Knowledge Is of More Value Than Scientific—There should have been experienced teachers to give lessons to young ladies in the cooking department. Young girls should have been instructed to cut, make, and mend garments, and thus become educated for the practical duties of life. CG 358.1

For young men, there should be establishments where they could learn different trades, which would bring into exercise their muscles as well as their mental powers. If the youth can have but a one-sided education, which is of the greater consequence—a knowledge of the sciences, with all the disadvantages to health and life, or a knowledge of labor for practical life? We unhesitatingly answer, The latter. If one must be neglected, let it be the study of books.10 CG 358.2

There may be those who have had wrong training and those who have wrong ideas in regard to the training of children. These children and youth want the very best training, and you must bring the physical labor right in with the mental—the two should go together.11 CG 358.3

Jesus Was an Example of Contented Industry—It requires much more grace and stern discipline of character to work for God in the capacity of mechanic, merchant, lawyer, or farmer, carrying the precepts of Christianity into the ordinary business of life, than to labor as an acknowledged missionary in the open field, where one's position is understood and half its difficulties obviated by that very fact. It requires strong spiritual nerve and muscle to carry religion into the workshop and business office, sanctifying the details of everyday life, and ordering every worldly transaction to the standard of a Bible Christian. CG 358.4

Jesus, in His thirty years of seclusion at Nazareth, toiled and rested, ate and slept, from week to week and from year to year, the same as His humble contemporaries. He called no attention to Himself as a marked personage; yet He was the world's Redeemer, the adored of angels, doing, all the time, His Father's work, living out a lesson that should remain for humanity to copy to the end of time. CG 359.1

This essential lesson of contented industry in the necessary duties of life, however humble, is yet to be learned by the greater portion of Christ's followers. If there is no human eye to criticize our work, nor voice to praise or blame, it should be done just as well as if the Infinite One Himself were personally to inspect it. We should be as faithful in the minor details of our business as we would in the larger affairs of life.12 CG 359.2