An Industry of Industries

(originally printed as ‘Our colleges and academies’, in The Christian Educator, September-October 1897)

Most institutions make themselves profitable by profiting off their students; high tuition, mounting rooming costs, and extortionate meal plan prices subsidize salaries and foster a culture of consumption. Students become customers, the school a hub of advertisement seeking to gain the business of their unwitting target audience. On the other hand, the True Education model seeks to create profitable students, students whose greatest motivation is not what they can gain but what they can give. It desires to rear producers, not consumers. This reprint offers a detailed window into what that looks like, and though some may consider this picture of the past an extinct aspiration, we believe that what once was can be once again. – Dylan Homan

Battle Creek College

The first school organized and conducted by Seventh-day Adventists was established in Battle Creek, thirty five years ago. This small beginning grew by progressive steps into the permanent organization known as the Seventh-day Adventist Educational Society, which aspired to the building up of a college where the youth of our people should receive their education. So far as we can now perceive, the ideas of those who laid the foundation of this noble work did not at that time embrace the establishment of other colleges, though the plan of tributary schools was early entertained.

But God’s work has exceeded our faith. Other similar institutions have been and are being called into existence by the growing demands of our work. To all these, Battle Creek College has ever extended the hand of fraternal greeting, and warmest sympathy.

As the parent school, or rather, as the elder member of the family of schools, Battle Creek College in some respects carries a heavier responsibility than other members of the family. Its stockholders are in all parts of the earth. Its friends and patrons are in all parts of the work. In every conference, mission school, or publishing house are those who look back to Battle Creek College and their connection therewith with an ever-increasing interest. The school lives in the hearts and lives of its pupils scattered abroad. It lives in the hearts of its host of friends. It lives in the plan and providence of God. And it owes to all these the most sacred obligation to fulfill with faithfulness the mission for which it was created.

There never was a time when its purposes to do a faithful work were more intense or its aims were higher than at the present moment. During the past few months the difficulties which have long seemed to bar the way marked out by the Lord for our schools, have been grappled with by faith. And as the forward movement has been thus inaugurated, light and blessing have come in to give courage. Obstacles have been giving way, and prospects now appear where only faith appeared a short time ago. Unity in heart and sentiment have characterized the efforts that have been thus put forth. And we believe that God will help us carry out His own will if only we have the wisdom to walk in His counsels.

What is the aim?

It is not revolution. It is not to cheapen education. It is simply conformity to God’s plan of education, and the adoption of His mind as the standard of education. We humbly aspire to think the thoughts of God. To do this it will be the aim to perceive God in all things, to recognize therein the manifestations of wisdom, of love, of purity. It will be, God in the Bible; God in science; God in nature; God in history, in language, and in the everyday duties and experiences.

Our Work

In order to make room for the work indicated above, it will be necessary to place less stress upon the forms and courses of education marked out in schools where the aim is not the same as that which is before us. It would be impossible to give a godly education on lines marked out for a worldly education. To provide for all the legitimate wants of the mind, it will be necessary to provide a wide scope of studies. The way will be left open for a pursuit of the classics and sciences to those whose circumstances indicate that these are the lines they should pursue. In addition to the work which has been offered, Battle Creek College now presents varied opportunities for the pursuit of practical studies and training along with useful industries. Some of these we note as follows:


Through the generosity of friends of the College, a farm has been purchased and stocked within three fourths of a mile of the college campus. This farm will be cultivated in harmony with the teachings of the Bible, with the aid of science and experience. A course of study in agriculture will be connected with farm labor, covering one year and comprising such topics as general horticulture, including vegetable and fruit culture; grafting, budding, pruning, etc; agricultural chemistry, including chemistry of soil and fertilizers, chemistry of fodders, and their nutritive values; agriculture, botany, and elements of forestry.

Wood, Sloyd[1], and joinery

This department will be under the charge of a competent instructor who has had the advantage of a training in the New York college for teachers. Comfortable shops are fitted up with benches and tools for joinery, where in connection with the classes in sloyd, students will have an opportunity to obtain a practical knowledge of the principles, and an actual training in the various branches of wood handicraft.

Broom making

An extensive broom shop under the charge of a careful and experienced instructor has been opened, where a large number of young men can learn the art of broom and brush making. Classes in this and other departments will be open both forenoon and afternoon, so as to accommodate a large number of students.


A tailoring establishment where clothing will be made and repaired has been provided for. It is intended here to prepare the student to care for and make his own clothing, and to assist in making clothing for others.


In connection with the Review and Herald Office, classes in the different parts of the printing trade will be opened for students. These will probably embrace type-setting, book-binding, press-work, etc. The instruction in these classes will include both theoretical and practical work.

Commercial department

Two large rooms fitted up for this branch of the work will be under the charge of those whose ability and experience thoroughly qualify them for the position. A complete course in shorthand, typewriting, penmanship, and bookkeeping will be presented. Offices for banking and commission business will be opened, and regular correspondence in banking, commission, and exchange, will be carried on with other colleges and through a central banking institution in Chicago. Our commercial course will be second to none in completeness, and will embrace special work adapted to our conferences, tract societies, and churches.

Normal Department[2]

There is a good demand for teachers in our churches, and this will no doubt be greatly increased. Besides this demand there are many very favorable openings for the Christian teacher to do excellent work for the Master and for humanity.

In anticipation of these demands, a complete department for the instruction and training of teachers will be maintained. Extended and shorter courses will be offered, affording to teachers of experience special features, or giving to prospective teachers a more thorough preparation in necessary branches.

Domestic work

A strong effort in which the help of God will be sought, will be made to place housework and homemaking on the honorable and exalted basis which the Lord designs that it shall occupy. The idea that there is anything debasing in the calling or occupation of housekeeping is not from God, and should be dispelled. Young ladies will have the opportunity to study and practice this “homely” art from the standpoint of science and the Bible. Domestic economy and all branches of domestic work will be carefully studied.


In this line will be taught practical cooking; the composition and combination of foods; proper foods; the care of foods and cooking utensils. These classes will be under the charge of thoroughly competent and experienced instructors.


Extensive rooms have been provided for this department, and the sewing art will be carefully and conscientiously taught. No attempt will be made to follow the devious ways of fashionable dressmaking. On the other hand, the principles of healthful and modest dressing in harmony with the word of God and the dictates of sense will be inculcated both in theory and practice. This course is intended to teach the student how to dress, and how to make the dress, that she may not only represent true and righteous principles in her own person, but also be able to teach others.


The prime object of these branches of instruction should be borne in mind. It is Christian education. It is the culture and training of heart, and head, and hand for Christian service. The principles involved in these enterprises are fundamental in the establishment of a good character, and essential to a life of usefulness. As a secondary object it is hoped that the practice of these arts will be made to contribute somewhat to the support of the students in their efforts to obtain an education.

For calendars, announcements, or other information address the president.

George C. Tenney

(Minister, editor of the Bible Echo and Signs of the Times in Australia from 1888–1892, and co-editor of the Review and Herald from 1895–1897)

[1] A system of manual training developed from a Swedish system and designed for training in the use of tools and materials but emphasizing training in wood carving as a means to this end.
[2] The department used to train teachers by educating them in pedagogy and curriculum.

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