Mind, Character and Personality/The School and the Teacher
Awakening of Mental Powers—True education is not the forcing of instruction on an unready and unreceptive mind. The mental powers must be awakened, the interest aroused. For this, God’s method of teaching provided. He who created the mind and ordained its laws, provided for its development in accordance with them.
In the home and the sanctuary, through the things of nature and of art, in labor and in festivity, in sacred building and memorial stone, by methods and rites and symbols unnumbered, God gave to Israel lessons illustrating His principles and preserving the memory of His wonderful works. Then, as inquiry was made, the instruction given impressed mind and heart.—Education, 41 (1903). Education to Impart Vitalizing Energy—It is not the highest work of education to communicate knowledge merely, but to impart that vitalizing energy which is received through the contact of mind with mind and soul with soul. It is only life that can beget life.—The Desire of Ages, 250 (1898).
The Highest Development of Mental Powers—It is right for the youth to feel that they must reach the highest (p.188) development of their mental powers. We would not restrict the education to which God has set no limit. But our attainments avail nothing if not put to use for the honor of God and the good of humanity. It is not well to crowd the mind with studies that require intense application but that are not brought into use in practical life.—The Ministry of Healing, 449, 450 (1905).
Dangers of Some Schools—Many youth come forth from institutions of learning with morals debased and physical powers enfeebled, with no knowledge of practical life and little strength to perform its duties.
As I have seen these evils, I have inquired, Must our sons and daughters become moral and physical weaklings in order to obtain an education in the schools? This should not be; it need not be, if teachers and students will but be true to the laws of nature, which are also the laws of God. All the powers of mind and body should be called into active exercise that the youth may become strong, well-balanced men and women.—The Signs of the Times, June 29, 1882. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 71.)
Education to Be Guarded—The mind will be of the same character as that upon which it feeds, the harvest of the same nature as the seed sown. Do not these facts sufficiently show the necessity of guarding from the earliest years the education of the youth? Would it not be better for the youth to grow up in a degree of ignorance as to what is commonly accepted as education than for them to become careless in regard to the truth of God?—Testimonies for the Church 6:194 (1900).
God’s Relation to Man to Be Made Plain—It is of the highest importance that every human being to whom God has given reasoning powers understand his relation to God. It is for his present and eternal good to inquire at every step, Is this the way of the Lord?...We need to call most earnestly upon every human being to compare (p.189) his character with the law of God, the standard of character for all who would enter His kingdom, and become citizens of the heavenly country.— Manuscript 67, 1898.
The Highest Education—The science of a pure, wholesome, consistent Christian life is obtained by studying the Word of the Lord. This is the highest education that any earthly being can obtain. These are the lessons that the students in our schools are to be taught, that they may come forth with pure thoughts and clean minds and hearts, prepared to ascend the ladder of progress, and to practice the Christian virtues.— Manuscript 86, 1905.
Teacher’s Habits Exert Influence—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 character; 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.—The Review and Herald, July 14, 1885.
Call Forth High Qualities of the Mind—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 (p.190) 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.—The Review and Herald, July 14, 1885.
To Be Inspired by the Holy Spirit—Dealing with human minds is the most delicate work that can be done, and teachers need to be inspired by the Spirit of God, that they may be able to do their work aright.— Manuscript 8, 1899.
Coping With Misdoings—Never educate them by giving publicity to the errors and misdoings of any scholar, for they will consider it a virtue in them to expose the wrongs of another. Never humiliate a scholar by presenting his grievances and mistakes and sins before the school: you cannot do a work more effectual to harden his heart and confirm him in evil than in doing this. Talk and pray with him alone, and show the same tenderness Christ has evidenced to you who are teachers. Never encourage any one student to criticize and talk of the faults of another. Hide a multitude of sins in every way possible by pursuing Christ’s way to cure him. This kind of educating will be a blessing, made to tell in this life and stretching into the future immortal life.— Manuscript 34, 1893.
Fully Qualified to Deal With Human Minds—Every teacher needs Christ abiding in his heart by faith and to possess a true, self-denying, self-sacrificing spirit for Christ’s sake. One may have sufficient education and knowledge in science to instruct, but has it been ascertained that he has tact and wisdom to deal with human minds? If instructors have not the love of Christ abiding in the heart, they are not fit to be brought into connection with children, and to bear the grave responsibilities (p.191) placed upon them, of educating these children and youth. They lack the higher education and training in themselves, and they know not how to deal with human minds. There is the spirit of their own insubordinate, natural hearts that is striving for the control, and to subject the plastic minds and characters of children to such a discipline is to leave scars and bruises upon the mind that will never be effaced.
If a teacher cannot be made to feel the responsibility and the carefulness he should ever reveal in dealing with human minds, his education has in some cases been very defective. In the home life the training has been harmful to the character, and it is a sad thing to reproduce this defective character and management in the children brought under his control.— Christian Education, 145 (1893). (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 260, 261.)
Responsibilities Not for the Inexperienced—The church school in Battle Creek is an important part of the vineyard to be cultivated. Well-balanced minds and symmetrical characters are required as teachers in every line. Give not this work into the hands of young women and young men who know not how to deal with human minds. This has been a mistake, and it has wrought evil upon the children and youth under their charge....
There are all kinds of characters to deal with in the children and youth. Their minds are impressible. Anything like a hasty, passionate exhibition on the part of the teacher may cut off her influence for good over the students whom she is having the name of educating. And will this education be for the present good and future eternal good of the children and youth? There is the correct influence to be exerted upon them for their spiritual good.— Manuscript 34, 1893.
Counsel to a Quick-tempered Teacher—Every teacher has his own peculiar trait of character to watch lest Satan should use him as his agent to destroy souls (p.192) by his own unconsecrated traits of character. The only safety for teachers is to learn daily in the school of Christ, His meekness, His lowliness of heart; then self will be hid in Christ, and he will meekly wear the yoke of Christ and consider he is dealing with His heritage.
I must state to you that I have been shown that the best methods have not always been practiced in dealing with the errors and mistakes of students, and the result has been that souls have been imperiled and some lost. Evil tempers in the teachers, unwise movements, self-dignity have done a bad work. There is no form of vice, worldliness, or drunkenness that will do a more baleful work upon the character, embittering the soul, and setting in train evils that overbear good, than human passions not under the control of the Spirit of God. Anger, getting touched [being aroused], stirred up, will never pay.
How many prodigals are kept out of the kingdom of God by the slovenly character of those whom claim to be Christians. Jealousy, envy, pride, uncharitable feelings, self-righteousness, being easily provoked, thinking evil, harshness, coldness, lack of sympathy—these are the attributes of Satan. Teachers will meet with these things in the student’s characters. It is a terrible thing to have these things to deal with; but in seeking to cast out these evils, the worker has in many instances developed similar attributes which have marred the soul of the one with whom he is dealing.— Letter 50, 1893.
Need Well-balanced Mind—The teachers who work in this part of the Lord’s vineyard need to be self-possessed, to keep their temper and feelings under control and in subjection to the Holy Spirit. They should give evidence of having, not a one-sided experience, but a well-balanced mind, a symmetrical character.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 191 (1913).
Determination to Improve Important—A teacher’s advantages may have been limited so that he may not (p.193) possess as high literary qualifications as might be desirable; yet if he has true insight into human nature; if he has a genuine love for his work, an appreciation of its magnitude, and a determination to improve; if he is willing to labor earnestly and perseveringly, he will comprehend the needs of his pupils, and by his sympathetic, progressive spirit will inspire them to follow as he seeks to lead them onward and upward.—Education, 279 (1913).
Faculties of Mind Not Half Used—It is important that we should have intermediate schools and academies.... From home and abroad are coming many urgent calls for workers. Young men and women, the middle-aged, and in fact all who are able to engage in the Master’s service, should be putting their minds to the stretch in an effort to prepare to meet these calls. From the light God has given me, I know that we do not use the faculties of the mind half as diligently as we should in an effort to fit ourselves for greater usefulness.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 209 (1903).
Combine Natural With Spiritual and Reach for Highest Attainments—The natural and the spiritual are to be combined in the studies of our schools. The operations of agriculture illustrate the Bible lessons. The laws obeyed by the earth reveal the fact that it is under the masterly power of an infinite God. The same principles run through the spiritual and the natural world. Divorce God and His wisdom from the acquisition of knowledge, and you have a lame, one-sided education, dead to all the saving qualities which give power to man, so that he is incapable of acquiring immortality through faith in Christ. The author of nature is the author of the Bible. Creation and Christianity have one God.
All who engage in the acquisition of knowledge should aim to reach the highest round of progress. Let them advance as fast and as far as they can; let their field of study be as broad as their powers can compass, (p.194) making God their wisdom, clinging to Him who is infinite in knowledge, who can reveal the secrets hidden for ages, who can solve the most difficult problems for minds that believe in Him who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light that no man can approach unto. The living witness for Christ, following on to know the Lord, shall know that His goings forth are prepared as the morning. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). By honesty and industry, with a proper care of the body, applying every power of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom in spiritual things, every soul may be complete in Christ, who is the perfect pattern of a complete man.—Special Testimonies On Education, 215, April 22, 1895. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 375, 376.)
Correct Lessons Cannot Impress Minds Who Know Not the Truth of God’s Word—But the fallen race will not understand. The science of nature is supposed to control the God of nature. Correct lessons cannot impress the minds of those who know not truth or the Word of God. When the heart and mind is submitted to God, when man is willing to be instructed as a little child, the science of education will be found in the Word of God. Higher education of the world has proved itself a farce. When teachers and students come down from their stilts and enter Christ’s school to learn of Him, they will talk intelligently of higher education because they will understand that it is that knowledge which enables men to understand the essence of science.— Manuscript 45, 1898.
Visual Aids Needed—The use of object lessons, blackboards, maps, and pictures will be an aid in explaining these [spiritual] lessons and fixing them in the memory. Parents and teachers should constantly seek for improved methods.—Education, 186 (1903).
Avoid Too Great a Variety of Mental Food—God would have the mental faculties kept pure and clean. (p.195) But often too great a variety of food is given to the mind. It is impossible for this to be properly taken care of and used. The brain should be relieved of all unnecessary burden. Only the studies which will be of the most use not only here but in the future life, which will provide the best instruction for body and soul, will be carried over into eternity.— Manuscript 15, 1898.
Study and Practical Life—It is not well to crowd the mind with a class of studies that require intense application and exertion but that are not brought into use in the practical life. An education of this kind will be a loss to the student, for these studies take away his desire and inclination for the studies which would fit him for usefulness and enable him to fulfill his appointed responsibilities as laborers together with God to help those whom he should by precept and example assist to secure immortality.— Manuscript 15, 1898.
Need for Practical Training—The study of Latin and Greek is of far less consequence to ourselves, to the world, and to God than the thorough study and use of the whole human machinery. It is a sin to study books to the neglect of how to become familiar with the various branches of usefulness in practical life. With some, close application to books is a dissipation. The physical machinery being untaxed leads to a great amount of activity in the brain. This becomes the devil’s workshop. Never can the life that is ignorant of the house we live in be an all-around life.— Letter 103, 1897.
Textbooks and Thought Patterns [See Chapter 13, Food for the Mind.]—With solemn voice the Speaker continued: “Do you find with these [infidel] authors that which you can recommend as essential to true higher education? Would you dare recommend their study to students who are ignorant of (p.196) their true character? Wrong habits of thought, when once accepted, become a despotic power that fastens the mind as in a grasp of steel. If many who have received and read these books had never seen them but had accepted the words of the Divine Teacher in their place, they would be far in advance of where they now are in a knowledge of the divine truths of the Word of God, which make men wise unto salvation. These books have led thousands where Satan led Adam and Eve—to a knowledge that God forbade them to have. Through their teachings, students have turned from the Word of the Lord to fables.”—The Review and Herald, March 12, 1908.
Broad Principles of Bible to Control Concepts [See Chapter 11, “Bible Study and the Mind.”]—Upon the mind of every student should be impressed the thought that education is a failure unless the understanding has learned to grasp the truths of divine revelation and unless the heart accepts the teachings of the gospel of Christ. The student who, in the place of the broad principles of the Word of God, will accept common ideas and will allow the time and attention to be absorbed in commonplace, trivial matters will find his mind will become dwarfed and enfeebled; he will lose the power of growth. The mind must be trained to comprehend the important truths that concern eternal life.— Letter 64, 1909.
Best Use of Parts Composing Human Machinery—Had teachers been learning that lessons the Lord would have them learn, there would not be a class of students whose bills must be settled by someone or else they leave the college with a heavy debt hanging over them. Educators are not doing half their work when they know a young man to be devoting years of close application 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 kindly and interestedly (p.197) inquired after, and his financial situation ascertained.
One of the studies put before him as most valuable should be the exercise of his God-given reason in harmony with his physical powers, head, body, hands, and feet. 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 exertions and stop there; but we are to make the very best use of the various parts composing the human machinery—brain, bone, and muscle, body, head, and heart. No man is fit for the ministry who does not understand how to do this.— Letter 103, 1897
Teachers Cooperate in Recreation—I see some things here in Switzerland [Note: Written while the author was visiting Europe, 1885-1887.] that I think are worthy of imitation. The teachers of the schools often go out with their pupils while they are at play and teach them how to amuse themselves and are at hand to repress any disorder or wrong. Sometimes they take their scholars out and have a long walk with them. I like this; I think there is less opportunity for the children to yield to temptation. The teachers seem to enter into the sports of the children and to regulate them.
I cannot in any way sanction the idea that children must feel that they are under a constant distrust and cannot act as children. But let the teachers join in the amusements of the children, be one with them, and show that they want them to be happy, and it will give the children confidence. They may be controlled by love, but not by following them at their meals and in their amusements with a stern, unbending severity.—Testimonies for the Church 5:653 (1889).
Manifest Confidence in Pupils—The wise educator, in dealing with his pupils, will seek to encourage confidence and to strengthen the sense of honor. Children and youth are benefited by being trusted. Many, even of the (p.198) little children, have a high sense of honor; all desire to be treated with confidence and respect, and this is their right. They should not be led to feel that they cannot go out or come in without being watched. Suspicion demoralizes, producing the very evils it seeks to prevent. Instead of watching continually, as if suspecting evil, teachers who are in touch with their pupils will discern the workings of the restless mind and will set to work influences that will counteract evil. Lead the youth to feel that they are trusted, and there are few who will not seek to prove themselves worthy of the trust.—Education, 289, 290 (1903).
Confidence of Pupils Essential—The teacher must have aptness for his work. He must have the wisdom and tact required in dealing with minds. However great his scientific knowledge, however excellent his qualifications in other lines, if he does not gain the respect and confidence of his pupils, his efforts will be in vain.—Education, 278, 279 (1903).
Helping the Backward and Unpromising—If you manifest kindness, love, tender thoughtfulness, to your students, you will reap the same in return. If teachers are severe, critical, overbearing, not sensitive of others’ feelings, they will receive the same in return. A man who wishes to preserve his self-respect and dignity must be careful not to sacrifice the respect and dignity of others. This rule should be sacredly observed toward the dullest, the youngest, and most blundering scholars.
What God shall do with these apparently uninteresting youth, you do not know. God has accepted and chosen, in the past, just such specimens to do a great work for Him. His Spirit, operating upon the heart, has acted like an electric battery, arousing the apparently benumbed faculties to vigorous and persevering action. The Lord saw in these rough, uninteresting, unhewn stones precious metal that will endure the test of storm (p.199) and tempest and the fiery ordeal of heat. God seeth not as man seeth, God judgeth not as man judgeth—He searcheth the heart.— Manuscript 2, 1881.
Dealing With the Dull Scholar—Teachers must consider that they are dealing with children, not men and women. They are children who have everything to learn, and it is much more difficult for some to learn than others. The dull scholar needs much more encouragement than he receives. If teachers are placed over these varied minds who naturally love to order and dictate and magnify themselves in their authority, who will deal with partiality, having favorites to whom they will show preferences while others are treated with exactitude and severity, it will create a state of confusion and insubordination.— Christian Education, 154 (1893). (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 269, 270.)
Schoolroom Atmosphere Affects Students—The religious life of a large number who profess to be Christians is such as to show that they are not Christians.... Their own hereditary and cultivated traits of character are indulged as precious qualifications when they are death-dealing in the influence over other minds. In plain, simple words they walk in the sparks of their own kindling. They have a religion subject to, and controlled by, circumstances. If everything happens to move in a way that pleases them and there are no irritating circumstances that call to the surface their unsubdued, unchristlike natures, they are condescending and pleasant and will be very attractive. When there are things that occur in the family or in their association with others which ruffle their peace and provoke their tempers, if they lay every circumstance before God and continue their request, supplicating His grace before they shall engage in their daily work as teachers, and know for themselves the power and grace and love of Christ abiding in their own hearts before entering upon their labors, angels of God are brought with them into the schoolroom. (p.200)
But if they go in a provoked, irritated spirit into the schoolroom, the moral atmosphere surrounding their souls is leaving its impression upon the children who are under their care, and in the place of being fitted to instruct the children, they need one to teach them the lessons of Jesus Christ.— Christian Education, 149, 150 (1893) (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 265, 266.)
Patience and Adaptability Needed (counsel to a teacher)—You do not make a success as a teacher because you have not patience and adaptability. You do not know how to deal with human minds or how to impart knowledge in the best way. If your expectations are not met, you are impatient. You have had every advantage of education, but nevertheless, you are not a wise teacher. It is very disagreeable to you to inculcate ideas into dull minds. In your youth you needed discipline and training. But the spirit which you manifested under correction has spoiled your life.— Letter 117, 1901.
Parents to Cooperate With Teachers—A neglected field represents the neglected mind. Parents must come to view this master in a different light. They must feel it their duty to cooperate with the teacher, to encourage wise discipline, and to pray much for the one who is teaching their children. You will not help the children by fretting, censuring, or discouraging them; neither will you act a part to help them to rebel and to be disobedient and unkind and unlovable because of the spirit you develop.— Manuscript 34, 1893.
Responsibility of the Religious Community—There can be no more important work than the proper education of our youth. We must guard them, fighting back Satan, that he shall not take them out of our arms. When the youth come to our colleges, they should not be made to feel that they have come among strangers who do not care for their souls. There should be fathers and mothers in Israel who will watch for their souls as they that must give account. (p.201)
Brethren and sisters, do not hold yourselves aloof from the dear youth, as though you have no particular concern or responsibility for them. You who have long professed to be Christians have a work to do to patiently and kindly lead them in the right way. You should show them that you love them because they are younger members of the Lord’s family, the purchase of His blood.—The Review and Herald, August 26, 1884. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 89, 90.)
Meeting Obdurate Hearts and Perverse Dispositions—Our Redeemer had a broad comprehensive humanity. His heart was ever touched with the known helplessness of the little child that is subject to rough usage, for He loved children. The feeblest cry of human suffering never reached His ear in vain. And everyone who assumes the responsibility of instructing the youth will meet obdurate hearts, perverse dispositions, and his work is to cooperate with God in restoring the moral image of God in every child. Jesus, precious Jesus—a whole fountain of love was in His soul.— Christian Education, 149 (1893). (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 265.)