The Review and Herald


September 22, 1885

The Teacher and His Work


To the teacher is committed an important work. While cultivating the intellectual powers and forming the manners of his pupils, he is constantly exerting an influence upon their habits and characters. Their destiny in this world and the next may be decided by his instruction and example. RH September 22, 1885, par. 1

It is not enough that the teacher possesses natural ability and intellectual culture. These are indispensable; but without a moral and spiritual fitness for the work, he is not prepared to engage in it. The teacher should see in every pupil the handiwork of God—a candidate for immortal honors. He should seek so to educate, train, and discipline them that each may attain to the highest standard of moral and intellectual excellence of which he is capable. RH September 22, 1885, par. 2

Many assume the position of a teacher without a proper sense of their responsibility and without due preparation. They are not actuated by that lofty purpose which an enlightened conscience and a love for souls would inspire. They teach merely to earn a livelihood, and do not realize the danger of marring the work by indulging their own peculiarities and revealing their defects of character. Hence their lack of self-control and wise discipline exerts upon pupils an influence which no after-effort can wholly counteract. RH September 22, 1885, par. 3

The teacher should not enter upon his work without careful and thorough preparation. He should feel the importance of his calling, and give himself to it with zeal and devotion. It is not his duty to exhaust the energies of mind or body in other branches of labor which may be urged upon him. This would unfit him for his specific work. RH September 22, 1885, par. 4

Every educator should daily receive instructions from the Great Teacher, and should labor constantly under his guidance. It is impossible for him rightly to understand or to perform his work, unless he shall be much with God in prayer. Only by divine aid, combined with earnest, self-denying effort, can he hope to fill his position wisely and well. RH September 22, 1885, par. 5

The teacher should carefully study the disposition and character of his pupils, that he may adapt his teaching to their peculiar needs. He has a garden to tend, in which are plants differing widely in nature, form, and development. While a few may appear beautiful and symmetrical, many others have become dwarfed and misshapen by neglect. The preceding gardener has not done his work faithfully. By proper cultivation these plants and shrubs might have been made to grow up comely and beautiful; but those to whom was committed the care of the tender plantlets, left them to the mercy of circumstances, and now the work of training and cultivation is increased tenfold. RH September 22, 1885, par. 6

The teacher must bring to his difficult task the patience, forbearance, and gentleness of Christ. His heart must glow with the same love that led the Lord of life and glory to die for a lost world. Patience and perseverance will not fail of a reward. While his best efforts will sometimes prove unavailing, the faithful teacher will see fruit of his labor. Noble characters and useful lives will richly repay his toil and care. RH September 22, 1885, par. 7

The word of God should have a place—the first place—in every system of education. As an educating power, it is of more value than the writings of all the philosophers of all the ages. In its wide range of style and subjects, there is something to interest and instruct every mind, to ennoble every life. There is history of inestimable value and absorbing interest. The light of revelation shines undimmed into the distant past where human annals cast not a ray of light. There is poetry which has called forth the admiration and wonder of the world. In glowing beauty, in sublime and solemn majesty, in touching pathos, it is unequaled by the most brilliant productions of human genius. There is sound logic and impassioned eloquence. There are portrayed the noble deeds of noble men, examples of private virtue and public honor, lessons of piety and purity. RH September 22, 1885, par. 8

There is no position in life, no phase of human experience, for which the Bible does not contain valuable instruction. Ruler and subject, master and servant, the buyer and the seller, the borrower and the lender, parent and child, teacher and student,—all may here find lessons of priceless worth. RH September 22, 1885, par. 9

But above all else, the word of God sets forth the plan of salvation; shows how sinful men may be reconciled to God, lays down the great principles of truth and duty which should govern our lives, and promises us divine aid in their observance. It reaches beyond this fleeting life, beyond the brief and troubled history of our race. It opens to our view the long vista of eternal ages—ages undarkened by sin, undimmed by sorrow. It teaches us how we may share the habitations of the blessed, and bids us anchor our hopes and fix our affections there. RH September 22, 1885, par. 10

The great book of nature, ever open before the student, invites his thought and study. While the teacher explores with his pupils the wonders of the invisible universe, and the laws by which it is governed, he should lead them to behold on every hand the power, the wisdom, and the love of God. RH September 22, 1885, par. 11

Physical training also should receive careful attention in the school-room. The teacher is, to a great degree, responsible for the health of the students under his care. The foundation of many ailments is laid in early life. Nothing is unimportant which affects physical health; for without this, mental training will be of little value. RH September 22, 1885, par. 12

Disease is often induced by over-study, confinement, and lack of exercise. Care should be taken to avoid these evils. Children, especially, should have frequent change of position and occupation. RH September 22, 1885, par. 13

Impure air is a frequent cause of disease. Above all other places, houses of worship and school buildings should be thoroughly ventilated. In the church congregation and in the crowded school-room are persons affected with scrofula, consumption, and almost every other form of disease. Impurities generated by these disorders are exhaled, and also thrown off by insensible perspiration. Unless there is most thorough ventilation, these impurities will be taken into the lungs, and then into the blood, and thus endanger health and even life. Yet sudden changes of temperature are to be avoided. Care should be taken that students do not become chilled by currents of air from open windows. It is unsafe for the teacher to regulate the heat of the school-room by his own feelings. His own good, as well as that of the students, demands that a uniform temperature be maintained. RH September 22, 1885, par. 14

The teacher should be familiar with the principles of physiology and hygiene, and should put his knowledge to practical use in the school-room. He may thus guard his pupils from many dangers to which they are exposed through ignorance or neglect of sanitary laws. Thousands of lives are sacrificed because teachers do not give attention to these things. RH September 22, 1885, par. 15

More harm than good results from the practice of offering prizes and rewards. It is the ambitious pupil who is stimulated to greater effort. Those whose mental powers are already too active for their physical strength, are urged on to grasp subjects too difficult for the young mind. The examinations also are a trying ordeal for pupils of this class. Many a promising student has suffered severe illness, perhaps death, as the result of the effort and excitement of such occasions. Parents and teachers should be on their guard against these dangers. It is unwise to develop the intellectual at the expense of the physical powers. RH September 22, 1885, par. 16

Students should be encouraged to exercise in the open air. Such exercise, with the invigorating influences of the fresh air, the sunshine, and the scenes of nature, will cool the fevered brain and soothe the excited nerves, and the student will return to his task with renewed vigor and fresh courage. RH September 22, 1885, par. 17

No one branch of study should receive special attention to the neglect of others equally important. Some teachers devote much time to a favorite branch, drilling the students upon every point, and praising them for their progress, while in everything else these students may be deficient. Such instructors are doing their pupils a great wrong. They are depriving them of that harmonious development of the mental powers which they should have, as well as of knowledge which they sorely need. RH September 22, 1885, par. 18

In these matters, teachers are too often controlled by selfish, sordid motives. While they labor with no higher object, they cannot inspire their pupils with noble desires or purposes. The keen, active minds of the young are quick to detect every defect of character, and they will copy such defects far more readily than the precious graces of the Holy Spirit. RH September 22, 1885, par. 19

It is the meekness and love of Christ that is needed by teachers and pupils, by parents and children. The currents of spiritual life must not become stagnant. The water of the living fountain should be in us, a well of water springing up into everlasting life, and sweeping away the selfishness of the natural heart. What our schools and our homes need is the inflowing of heavenly life, so full and free as to impart a truly fervent spirit. The heart that is imbued with the love of Christ will reveal that simplicity and godly sincerity which was manifested in the life of our Saviour. That heart will be as a pure fountain, sending forth pure, sweet streams. RH September 22, 1885, par. 20

No man or woman is fitted for the work of teaching who is fretful, impatient, arbitrary, or dictatorial. These traits of character work great harm in the school-room. Let not the teacher excuse his wrong course by the plea that he has naturally a hasty temper, or that he has erred ignorantly. He has taken a position where ignorance or lack of self-control is sin. He is writing upon many a human soul lessons which will be carried all through life. RH September 22, 1885, par. 21

Constant association with inferiors in age and mental training tends to make the teacher tenacious of his rights and opinions, and leads him to jealousy guard his position and dignity. Such a spirit is opposed to the meekness and humility of Christ. A neglect to cherish these graces hinders advancement in the divine life. Many build up barriers between themselves and Jesus so that his love cannot flow into their hearts, and then they complain that they do not see the Sun of Righteousness. Let them forget self and live for Jesus, and the light of Heaven will bring gladness to their souls. RH September 22, 1885, par. 22

Above all others, he who has the training of the young should beware of indulging a morose or gloomy disposition. This will cut him off from sympathy with them, and without sympathy we cannot hope to benefit. We should not darken our own path or the path of others with the shadow of our trials. We have a Saviour to whom each may go, into whose pitying ear we may pour every complaint; we may leave all our cares and burdens with him, and then our labor will not seem hard nor our trials severe. RH September 22, 1885, par. 23

The fact that Jesus died to bring happiness and heaven within our reach should be a theme for constant gratitude. The beauty spread before us in God's created works, as an expression of his love, should bring gladness to our hearts. RH September 22, 1885, par. 24

We open to ourselves the flood-gates of woe or joy. If we permit our thoughts to be engrossed with the troubles and trifles of earth, our hearts will be filled with unbelief, gloom, and foreboding. If we set our affections on things above, the voice of Jesus will speak peace to our souls; murmurings will cease; vexing thoughts will be lost in praise to our Redeemer. Those who dwell upon God's great mercies, and are not unmindful of his lesser gifts, will put on the girdle of gladness, and make melody in their hearts to the Lord. Then they will enjoy their allotted labor. They will stand firm and faithful at their post of duty. They will have a placid temper, a trustful spirit. RH September 22, 1885, par. 25

To the teacher is committed a great work—a work for which, in his own strength, he is wholly insufficient. Yet if, realizing his own weakness, his helpless soul shall cling to Jesus, he will become strong in the strength of the Mighty One. RH September 22, 1885, par. 26