Should We Go to School or Quit?
THAT old question of last summer still haunts our minds. We still are wondering if we did the right thing in returning to finish high school. Or would it have been better if we had entered the full-time ministry in the service of our God Jehovah? You see, because of our dedication to do the will of God, we are not like the others here in school, whose only ambition is to get ahead, attain a high social position and make a lot of money. We know this old system of things will soon be destroyed at Armageddon, so why the reasons for attending high school when we could be out warning others? And besides, there is a great risk that one will be caught in the quicksands of immorality or lose one’s faith altogether due to the godless conditions in the schools today. However, our parents and closest friends whom we asked for advice were so divided in their opinions we are now back in school. But as we look out this window we still wonder what is the right answer.
Here is a simple formula by which the complex problem can be solved. List all the reasons for not attending high school in one column, and in another add up all the reasons why one should attend. Then by simple subtraction the correct answer is obtained. To illustrate:
The educational systems are very faulty and the curriculum is of little practical value to a Christian. The short remaining time before Armageddon should be spent as profitably as possible. The pressure on one’s faith and integrity is great from every side of school life. On the one hand, evolution and infidelity are constantly forced upon the mind, and from another direction the forces of immorality attempt to undermine and destroy one’s foundation in Christianity. And if one takes an open stand for God’s kingdom of righteousness as man’s only hope, then he is oftentimes maliciously slandered, ridiculed and persecuted by student body and faculty. Here then is a partial list of the objections raised against attending high school. How do they add up?
All informed persons will freely admit there is a great deal wrong with the present systems of education. And they are fast going from bad to worse. To quote one AP dispatch: “A Chicago educator says the college freshman is growing increasingly illiterate, unable to read or think. But it isn’t the student’s fault. High schools, says the president of the University of Chicago, are serving a watered-down educational potion. In an attack on the American school system, Dr. Earnest Cadman Colwell remarked in an interview yesterday: ‘More go to school longer and learn less every year. . . . There are too many distractions in the curriculum.’” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 24, 1950) But refusing to go to school does not improve the system. Refusing to go in order to avoid evils makes one miss the good also.
It is good to impress on your own and other people’s minds the nearness of Armageddon, but you do not need to quit school to do so. (2 Pet. 3:11, 12) Instead of running away to a distant pioneer territory why not accept your high school as an assignment, thus showing neighbor love toward these nearby ones? Get the basket off your light that others may see it and “give glory to your Father”.—Matt. 5:15, 16, NW.
MAINTAINING FAITH AND INTEGRITY
What is that? You say you are afraid to let your light shine while going to school, afraid you will be laughed at, scoffed at and persecuted even more than you are now? Well, if anyone thinks it is possible to escape persecution and abuse and still remain a Christian he certainly is misinformed. As long as this system of things under Satan’s rule remains, true followers of Christ will be hated and persecuted. Jesus said so: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. . . . If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” To which the apostle Paul adds: “All those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” “We must enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations.” No, you cannot escape this trouble; “but cheer up!” Jesus says, for it is possible to overcome. He did.—John 15:18-20; 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12, NW.
Comparing the truth with error only strengthens the truth. So if you build your foundation of faith on the solid truth of God’s Word, then be sure it will remain immovable when tested with pagan fables of evolution and godless theories of communism. Moreover, in this day and age servants of the Lord should be well acquainted with all false religions, including those taught by the scientists and communists, in order to aid sincere ones who are deceived to learn the truth.
Morally the high schools are in a deplorable state of affairs. Each year these fertile breeding grounds for all kinds of immoral practices turn out on society an ever-increasing number of derelicts, including sex perverts and dope addicts. But it is folly to think one can escape from this kind of pressure by leaving school, for, if anything, moral conditions in the world outside are even worse. These are the ‘last days with their critical times hard to deal with’.—2 Tim. 3:1-5, NW.
Integrity to God is an individual matter. Parents are responsible to give their children theocratic training and instruction in the laws and commandments of God, but by the time children are of high school age they are individually responsible in large measure for the course they take. If they cannot stand up for godly righteousness amid juvenile temptations and seducements in high school they will certainly fall later when bigger trials come upon them. Eaglets learn to fly and take care of themselves before they reach adulthood.
It thus becomes manifest that the reasons above mentioned for not going to high school, when tested and analyzed, seem rather weak and insufficient. But what about the positive side? Are there good, sound reasons why those dedicated to God should pursue such secular high school studies in this day and age in lands where compulsory education is enforced?
ADVANTAGES OFFERED STUDENTS
At whatever age persons make a dedication of themselves to the Lord, whether in their advanced years or when quite young, from that day forward their desire and obligation is not only to devote what substance and possessions they already have to the Lord’s service, but also to increase their efficiency, abilities and talents. One’s ability to read, spell, write and speak, for example, should be improved for the ministry’s sake. Whatever education a student gains can and should be used to the honor of Jehovah God.
There is a great deal of valuable information contained in the general high school courses. Facts on history and geography, whether ancient, medieval or modern, basic chemistry, physics and biology, mathematics, foreign languages, etc., can be very useful in later years. And even if the material offered in a course is of no practical value, yet by going through the prescribed course students can learn how to study, learn the art of concentration, learn how to remember. They can learn to reason, use logic, sift evidence, weigh arguments, lay aside their prejudices and be open-minded.
It is also important to learn a practical trade for part-time employment to keep one in the ministry. It is commendable that a true minister work to support himself as the apostle Paul did, in order that he be not a burden on the congregation. (Acts 18:3; 1 Cor. 4:12; 2 Cor. 11:9; 1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:7-9) Typing, bookkeeping, home economics and mechanical courses may therefore be very useful.
In addition to the regular academic studies there are other beneficial things high school students can learn. There is the matter of learning to deal with other people, to be free and easy in the presence of others, both in speech and manner. Poise and tactfulness are very necessary requirements for God’s public ministers, and such social lessons can never be learned at home or when isolated from association with other people. There are many backward individuals in the world who are handicapped all through life simply because they were caged in isolation during their formative teen-age.
DIRECT STATEMENT OF POLICY
Recognizing the many advantages of a high school education, and appreciating that many lacked a good education, the Watchtower Society introduced the Course in Theocratic Ministry in 1943. In discussing this, the 1944 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, pages 64, 65, said further:
“The question has been raised by some of the younger publishers in the companies as to how much education they should receive in the public schools before they engage in the full-time pioneer service or some other activity. Education along proper lines has always been beneficial, and a knowledge of how to study is vital. The training of a mind when it is young along proper lines of study and research will always be appreciated by the person in later years. It is a responsibility of parents to see that their children get this training in their youth. The schools throughout the country have been a great aid to the American people in getting a better education in reading and writing, and have, undoubtedly, prepared many of them to be in position to read, study and accept the message of the Kingdom.
“To the young people who are undecided as to just what they should do in regard to their regular schooling, it is suggested that they continue on through high school and get as much education in grammar school and high school as possible, particularly where the state law fixes an age limit. Probably the so-called commercial course will do them the most good as to preparing themselves for future service work in the field. If they take up bookkeeping, typewriting, shorthand, mathematics, and other general subjects, such may be useful at some future time, as well as chemistry, physics, or a language. English and history are always beneficial; for they broaden the mind. Some vocational courses, such as carpentry, printing, etc., would not be amiss. Remember, Jesus was a carpenter, and Paul a tentmaker; others were fishermen. A trade may come in handy some time. Learn when you are young. While taking up these various courses in high school, which require only 6 to 8 hours of study a day, in most schools, it is well for those of the Lord’s organization who have dedicated their lives to the Kingdom to refrain from participating in school athletics and the social events of the high school. By keeping separate from the things of this world, one can more fully associate with the Lord’s people in the field-service activity. Many high schools close their doors to the pupils in the early afternoon, and some of the summer pioneers who are now going back to school find it possible to get in their 60-hour quota by spending a few hours in the afternoon and evening in the field service, and particularly on week ends.
“Such a course in younger life will prepare these young people, who are looking forward to the pioneer work and the Watchtower Bible [School] of Gilead, for that [school]. A young person’s proper early education and training will be a real benefit and aid to him in the Watchtower Bible [School] of Gilead, or in any place he is privileged to serve his Creator. Young people wholly dedicated to the Lord should prepare themselves for future years of service. Knowing that everlasting life is set forth before them, they should fit themselves the very best possible to honor the Lord’s name and to sing praises of his glorious kingdom. All of these young folks should take a very active part in the course in theocratic ministry. Many plan to enter the pioneer service when they graduate from high school and put in the full two-year pioneer requirement, preparing themselves for the call to Gilead, and then on to whatever fields the Lord directs. What a future! May the Lord’s rich blessing continue with these young folks and their preparation for this glorious work. Proper education under the direction of righteous parents is a gift to be cherished for life, and one’s acceptance of it will never be regretted.”
Being now fully convinced that it is proper and right to complete high school before entering the full-time ministry, go ahead with resolute determination to get as much as possible out of school. Remember the old saying, ‘you get out of it what you put into it.’ So study well. Do not be the dummy of the class. “Borrow” heavily from the modern-day Egyptians and Babylonians, even as Moses and Daniel and Daniel’s three companions did, that “in all matters of wisdom and understanding” you may be found “ten times better” than your classmates, so that those beholding your countenance may give honor and praise to your God Jehovah and his people.—Dan. 1:20; Acts 7:22.
Thus through your conscientious and serious efforts as a student you will make friends with your teachers. Make friends also with fellow students, not by joining their clubs or running with them to the same excesses in loose conduct, but rather win their trust, friendship and admiration by your loving-kindness, tender mercy, integrity, uprightness and dependability. Strong fish swim upstream, against the current. Above all, show friendliness and love to both teachers and students by your sincere efforts to give them the same comfort and hope you have in a knowledge of Jehovah God’s purposes to establish his kingdom rule over all the earth—truly man’s only hope!