Because difficulties arise, we are not to drop the industries that have been taken hold of as branches of education. While attending school the youth should have an opportunity for learning the use of tools. Under the guidance of experienced workmen, carpenters who are apt to teach, patient, and kind, the students themselves should erect buildings on the school grounds and make needed improvements, thus by practical lessons learning how to build economically. The students should also be trained to manage all the different kinds of work connected with printing, such as typesetting, presswork, and book binding, together with tentmaking and other useful lines of work. Small fruits should be planted, and vegetables and flowers cultivated, and this work the lady students may be called out of doors to do. Thus, while exercising brain, bone, and muscle, they will also be gaining a knowledge of practical life.
Culture on all these points will make our youth useful in carrying the truth to foreign countries. They will not then have to depend upon the people among whom they are living to cook and sew and build for them, nor will it be necessary to spend money to transport men thousands of miles to plan schoolhouses, meetinghouses, and cottages. Missionaries will be much more influential among the people if they are able to teach the inexperienced how to labor according to the best methods and to produce the best results. They will thus be able to demonstrate that missionaries can become industrial educators, and this kind of instruction will be appreciated especially where means are limited. A much smaller fund will be required to sustain such missionaries, because, combined with their studies, they have put to the very best use their physical powers in practical labor; and wherever they may go all they have gained in this line will give them vantage ground. Students in the industrial departments, whether they are employed in domestic work, in cultivating the ground, or in other ways, should have time and opportunity given them to tell the practical, spiritual lessons they have learned in connection with the work. In all the practical duties of life, comparisons should be made with the teachings of nature and of the Bible.
The reasons that have led us in a few places to turn away from cities and locate our schools in the country, hold good with the schools in other places. To expend money in additional buildings when a school is already deeply in debt is not in accordance with God's plan. Had the money which our larger schools have used in expensive buildings been invested in procuring land where students could receive a proper education, so large a number of students would not now be struggling under the weight of increasing debt, and the work of these institutions would be in a more prosperous condition. Had this course been followed, there would have been some grumbling from students, and many objections would have been raised by parents; but the students would have secured an all-round education, which would have prepared them, not only for practical work in various trades, but for a place on the Lord's farm in the earth made new.
Had all our schools encouraged work in agricultural lines, they would now have an altogether different showing. There would not be so great discouragements. Opposing influences would have been overcome; financial conditions would have changed. With the students, labor would have been equalized; and as all the human machinery was proportionately taxed, greater physical and mental strength would have been developed. But the instruction which the Lord has been pleased to give has been taken hold of so feebly that obstacles have not been overcome.
It reveals cowardice to move so slowly and uncertainly in the labor line--that line which will give the very best kind of education. Look at nature. There is room within her vast boundaries for schools to be established where grounds can be cleared and land cultivated. This work is essential to the education most favorable to spiritual advancement; for nature's voice is the voice of Christ, teaching us innumerable lessons of love and power and submission and perseverance. Some do not appreciate the value of agricultural work. These should not plan for our schools, for they will hold everything from advancing in right lines. In the past their influence has been a hindrance.
If the land is cultivated, it will, with the blessing of God, supply our necessities. We are not to be discouraged about temporal things because of apparent failures, nor should we be disheartened by delay. We should work the soil cheerfully, hopefully, gratefully, believing that the earth holds in her bosom rich stores for the faithful worker to garner, stores richer than gold or silver. The niggardliness laid to her charge is false witness. With proper, intelligent cultivation the earth will yield its treasures for the benefit of man. The mountains and hills are changing; the earth is waxing old like a garment; but the blessing of God, which spreads a table for His people in the wilderness, will never cease.
Serious times are before us, and there is great need for families to get out of the cities into the country, that the truth may be carried into the byways as well as the highways of the earth. Much depends upon laying our plans according to the word of the Lord and with persevering energy carrying them out. More depends upon consecrated activity and perseverance than upon genius and book learning. All the talents and ability given to human agents, if unused, are of little value.
A return to simpler methods will be appreciated by the children and youth. Work in the garden and field will be an agreeable change from the wearisome routine of abstract lessons, to which their young minds should never be confined. To the nervous child, who finds lessons from books exhausting and hard to remember, it will be especially valuable. There is health and happiness for him in the study of nature; and the impressions made will not fade out of his mind, for they will be associated with objects that are continually before his eyes.
Working the soil is one of the best kinds of employment, calling the muscles into action and resting the mind. Study in agricultural lines should be the A, B, and C of the education given in our schools. This is the very first work that should be entered upon. Our schools should not depend upon imported produce, for grain and vegetables, and the fruits so essential to health. Our youth need an education in felling trees and tilling the soil as well as in literary lines. Different teachers should be appointed to oversee a number of students in their work and should work with them. Thus the teachers themselves will learn to carry responsibilities as burden bearers. Proper students also should in this way be educated to bear responsibilities and to be laborers together with the teachers. All should counsel together as to the very best methods of carrying on the work.
Time is too short now to accomplish that which might have been done in past generations. But even in these last days we can do much to correct the existing evils in the education of youth. And because time is short, we should be in earnest and work zealously to give the young an education consistent with our faith. We are reformers. We desire that our children should study to the best advantage. In order to do this, employment should be given them which will call into exercise the muscles. Daily, systematic labor should constitute a part of the education of youth even at this late period. Much can now be gained in this way. In following this plan the students will realize elasticity of spirit and vigor of thought, and in a given time can accomplish more mental labor than they could by study alone. And thus they can leave school with constitutions unimpaired and with strength and courage to persevere in any position where the providence of God may place them.
The exercise that teaches the hand to be useful and trains the young to bear their share of life's burdens, gives physical strength and develops every faculty. All should find something to do that will be beneficial to themselves and helpful to others. God appointed work as a blessing, and only the diligent worker finds the true glory and joy of life.
Brain and muscle must be taxed proportionately if health and vigor are to be maintained. The youth can then bring to the study of the word of God healthy perception and well-balanced nerves. They will have wholesome thoughts and can retain the precious things that are brought from the word. They will digest its truths and as a result will have brain power to discern what is truth. Then, as occasion demands, they can give to every man that asks a reason of the hope that is in them with meekness and fear.