The Review and Herald


July 14, 1885

Proper Education


It is the nicest work ever assumed by men and women to deal with youthful minds. The greatest care should be taken in the education of youth to vary the manner of instruction so as to call forth the high and noble powers of the mind. Parents and teachers of schools are certainly disqualified to educate children properly, if they have not first learned the lessons of self-control, patience, forbearance, gentleness, and love. What an important position for parents, guardians, and teachers! There are very few who realize the most essential wants of the mind, and how to direct the developing intellect, the growing thoughts and feelings of youth. RH July 14, 1885, par. 1

There is a period for training children, and a time for educating youth. And it is essential that both of these be combined to a great degree in the schools. Children may be trained for the service of sin, or for the service of righteousness. The early education of youth shapes their character in this life and in their religious life. Solomon says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This language is positive. The training which Solomon enjoins is to direct, educate, and develop. In order for parents and teachers to do this work, they must themselves understand “the way the child should go.” This embraces more than merely having a knowledge of books. It takes in everything that is good, virtuous, righteous, and holy. It comprehends the practice of temperance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love to God, and to each other. In order to attain this object, the physical, mental, moral, and religious education of children must have attention. RH July 14, 1885, par. 2

In households and in schools the education of children should not be like the training of dumb animals; for children have an intelligent will, which should be directed to control all their powers. The dumb animals need to be trained; for they have not reason and intellect. The human mind must be taught self-control. It must be educated to rule the human being, while the animal is controlled by the master. The beast is trained to be submissive to his master. The master is mind, judgment, and will, for his beast. A child may be so trained as to have, like the beast, no will of his own. His individuality may even be submerged in the one who superintends his training, and the will is to all intents and purposes subject to the will of the teacher. RH July 14, 1885, par. 3

Children who are thus educated will ever be deficient in moral energy and individual responsibility. They have not been taught to move from reason and principle. Their will was controlled by another, and the mind was not called out, that it might expand and strengthen by exercise. They were not directed and disciplined with respect to their peculiar constitution and capabilities of mind, to put forth their strongest powers when required. Teachers should not stop here, but give especial attention to the cultivation of the weaker faculties that all the powers may be brought into exercise, and carried forward from one degree of strength to another, that the mind may attain due proportions. RH July 14, 1885, par. 4

There are many families of children who appear to be well trained, while under the training discipline; but when the system, which has held them to set rules, is broken up, they seem to be incapable of thinking, acting, or deciding, for themselves. These children have been so long under iron rule, not allowed to think and act for themselves in those things in which it was highly proper that they should, that they have no confidence in themselves to move out upon their own judgment, having an opinion of their own. And when they go out from their parents, to act for themselves, they are easily led by others’ judgment in the wrong direction. They have not stability of character. Their minds have not been properly developed and strengthened by being thrown upon their own judgment, as fast and as far as practicable. So long have their minds been absolutely controlled by their parents that they rely wholly upon them. Their parents were mind and judgment for their children. RH July 14, 1885, par. 5

On the other hand, the youth should not be left to think and act independent of the judgment of their parents and teachers. Children should be taught to respect experienced judgment, and be guided by their parents and teachers. They should be so educated that their minds will be united with the minds of their parents and teachers, and they be so instructed that they can see the propriety of heeding their counsel. And when they go forth from the guiding hand of their parents and teachers, their characters will not be like the reed trembling in the wind. RH July 14, 1885, par. 6

The severe training of youth, without properly directing them to think and act for themselves, as their own capacity and turn of mind would allow, that by this means they might have growth of thought and feelings of self-respect, and confidence in their own abilities to perform, will ever produce a class that are weak in mental and moral power. And when they stand in the world to act for themselves, they will reveal the fact that they were trained, like the animals, and not educated. Their wills, instead of being guided, were forced into subjection by harsh discipline of parents and teachers. RH July 14, 1885, par. 7

Parents and teachers who boast of having complete control of the mind and will of the children under their care would cease their boastings could they trace out the future life of these children who are thus in subjection by force and through fear. These are almost wholly unprepared to engage in the stern responsibilities of life. When these youth are no longer under their parents and teachers, and are compelled to think and act for themselves, they are almost sure to take a wrong course, and yield to the power of temptation. They do not make this life a success. And the same deficiencies are seen in their religious life. Could the instructors of youth have the future result of their mistaken discipline mapped out before them, they would change their plan of action in the education of children and youth. That class of teachers who are gratified that they have almost complete control of the will of their scholars are not the most successful teachers, although the appearance for the time being may be flattering. RH July 14, 1885, par. 8

God never designed that one human mind should be under the complete control of another human mind. And those who make efforts to have the individuality of their pupils submerged in themselves, and they be mind, will, and conscience for their pupils, assume fearful responsibilities. These scholars may, upon certain occasions, appear like well-drilled soldiers. But when this restraint is removed, there will be seen a want of independent action from firm principle existing in them. But those who make it their object to so educate their pupils that they may see and feel that the power lies in themselves to make men and women of firm principle, qualified for any position in life, are the most useful and permanently successful teachers. Their work may not show to the very best advantage to careless observers, and their labors may not be valued as highly as the teacher's who holds the will and mind of his scholars by absolute authority; but the future lives of the pupils will show the fruits of the better plan of education. RH July 14, 1885, par. 9

There is danger of both parents’ and teachers’ commanding and dictating too much, while they fail to come sufficiently into social relation with their children or their scholars. They often hold themselves too much reserved, and exercise their authority in a cold, unsympathizing manner, which cannot win the hearts of their children and pupils. If they would gather the children close to them, and show that they love them, and manifest an interest in all their efforts, and even in their sports, and sometimes be even a child among children, they would make the children very happy, would gain their love, and win their confidence. And the children would sooner respect and love the authority of their parents and teachers. RH July 14, 1885, par. 10

The principles and habits of the teacher should be considered of greater importance than even his literary qualifications. If the teacher is a sincere Christian, he will feel the necessity of having an equal interest in the physical, mental, moral, and spiritual education of his scholars. In order to exert the right influence, he should have perfect control over himself, and his own heart should be richly imbued with love for his pupils, which will be seen in his looks, words, and acts. He should have firmness of characters; then can he mold the minds of his pupils, as well as instruct them in the sciences. The early education of youth generally shapes their character for life. Those who deal with the young should be very careful to call out the qualities of the mind, that they may better know how to direct their powers, and that they may be exercised to the very best account. RH July 14, 1885, par. 11

The system of education in generations back has been destructive to health and even life itself. Five hours each day many young children have passed in school rooms not properly ventilated, nor sufficiently large for the healthful accommodation of the scholars. The air of such rooms soon becomes poison to the lungs that inhale it. Little children, whose limbs and muscles are not strong, and their brains undeveloped, have been kept confined in-doors to their injury. Many have but a slight hold on life to begin with. Confinement in school from day to day makes them nervous and diseased. Their bodies are dwarfed because of the exhausted condition of the nervous system. And if the lamp of life goes out, the parents and teachers do not consider that they had any direct influence in quenching the vital spark. When standing by the graves of their children, the afflicted parents look upon their bereavement as a special dispensation of Providence. By inexcusable ignorance, their own course had destroyed the lives of their children. Then to charge their death to Providence is blasphemy. God wanted the little ones to live and be disciplined, that they might have beautiful characters, to glorify him in this world, and praise him in the better world. In order to be in accordance with fashion and custom, many parents have sacrificed the health and life of their children. RH July 14, 1885, par. 12

Parents and teachers, in taking the responsibilities of training these children, do not feel their accountability before God to become acquainted with the physical organism, that they may treat the bodies of children and pupils in a manner to preserve life and health. Thousands of children die because of the ignorance of parents and teachers. Mothers will spend hours over needless work upon their own dress and that of their children, to fit them for display, who plead that they cannot find time to read, and obtain information necessary to take care of the health of their children. They think it less trouble to trust their bodies to the doctors. RH July 14, 1885, par. 13

To become acquainted with our wonderful organism, the stomach, liver, bowels, heart, bones, muscles, and pores of the skin, and to understand the dependence of one organ upon another, for the healthful action of all, is a study that most mothers have no interest in. The influence of the body upon the mind, and the mind upon the body, she knows nothing of. The mind, which allies finite to the infinite, she does not seem to understand. Every organ of the body was made to be servant to the mind. The mind is the capital of the body. Children are allowed flesh-meats, spices, butter, cheese, pork, rich pastry, and condiments generally. They are allowed to eat irregularly, and to eat between meals, of unhealthful food, which do their work of deranging the stomach, and exciting the nerves to unnatural action, and enfeeble the intellect. Parents do not realize that they are sowing the seeds which will bring forth disease and death. RH July 14, 1885, par. 14

Many children have been ruined for life by urging the intellectual, and neglecting to strengthen the physical. Many have died in their childhood because of the course pursued by injudicious parents, and teachers of the schools, in forcing their young intellects by flattery or fear, when they are too young to see the inside of a school room. Their minds have been taxed by lessons, when they should not have been called out, but kept back until the physical constitution was strong enough to endure mental effort. Small children should be left free as lambs to run out of doors, to be free and happy, and be allowed the most favorable opportunities to lay the foundation for sound constitutions. Parents should be their only teachers until they have reached eight or ten years of age. They should open before their children God's great book of nature as fast as their minds can comprehend it. RH July 14, 1885, par. 15

The mother should have less love for the artificial in her house, and in the preparation of her dress for display, and find time to cultivate, in herself and in her children, a love for the beautiful buds and opening flowers, and call the attention of her children to their different colors and variety of forms. She can make her children acquainted with God, who made all the beautiful things which attract and delight them. She can lead their young minds up to their Creator, and awaken in their young hearts a love for their heavenly Father, who has manifested so great love for them. Parents can associate God with all his created works. Among the opening buds and flowers and nature's beautiful scenery in the open air should be the only school room for children up to eight or ten years of age. And the treasures of nature should be their chief text-book. These lessons, imprinted upon the minds of young children, among the pleasant, attractive scenes of nature, will not be soon forgotten. RH July 14, 1885, par. 16

It is a duty we owe to our Creator to cultivate and improve upon the talents he has committed to our trust. Education will discipline the mind and develop its powers, and understandingly direct them, that we may be useful in advancing the glory of God. RH July 14, 1885, par. 17