Education and the WT: my story

by Pistoff 21 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Pistoff

    The influences on my life, education decisions, and baptism in 1971 (Bold, highlighted added)
    1969 "In view of the short time left, a decision to pursue a career in this system of things is not only unwise but extremely dangerous ... Many young brothers and sisters were offered scholarship or employment that promised fine pay. However, they turned them down and put spiritual interests first." {KMIN Jun 1969 3} [Compare with WT Nov 1 1992 18 "If...minimal or even high school education will only allow them to find jobs providing insufficient income to support themselves as pioneers, then supplementary education or training might be considered. This would be with the specific goal of full-time service."
    (College or “supplementary education” but only for the purpose of pioneering; something that 1% to 5% of the entire fellowship will pursue. What about the rest of the group?)
    1969 "'What Influences Decisions in Your Life?' Many schools now have student counselors who encourage one to pursue higher education after high school, to pursue a career with a future in this system of things. Do not be influenced by them. Do not let them "brainwash" you with the Devil's propaganda to get ahead, to make something of yourself in this world. The world has very little time left! Any 'future' this world offers is no future!... Make pioneer service, the fulltime ministry, with the possibility of Bethel or missionary service your goal. This is a life that offers an everlasting future!" {WT Mar 15 1969 171}
    1969 "If you are a young person, you also need to face the fact that you will never grow old in this present system of things. Why not? Because all the evidence in fulfillment of Bible prophecy indicates that this corrupt system is due to end in a few years. Of the generation that observed the beginning of the 'last days' in 1914, Jesus foretold: 'This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.' Therefore, as a young person, you will never fulfill any career that this system offers. If you are in high school and thinking about a college education, it means at least four, perhaps even six or eight more years to graduate into a specialized career. But where will this system of things be by that time? It will be well on the way towards its finish, if not actually gone! This is why parents who base their lives on God's prophetic Word find it much more practical to direct their young ones into trades that do not require such long periods of additional schooling... True, those who do not understand where we are in the stream of time from God's viewpoint will call this impractical. But which is really practical: preparing yourself for a position in this world that soon will pass away? Or working toward surviving this system's end and enjoying eternal life in God's righteous new order?" {AWAK May 22 1969 15}
    1971 "So, as we draw close to the completion of six thousand years of human existence during this decade, there is the thrilling hope that a grand Sabbath of rest and relief is indeed at hand." [AWAK Oct 8 1971]
    Influences on life decisions (college? Career?)
    1973 "... the generation alive in 1914, some will see the major fulfillment of Christ Jesus' prophecy and the destruction." {AWAK Oct 8 1973 19}
    1975 “Today, there are many teen-age baptized servants of Jehovah. Their personal study, preparation for meetings and sharing in the Theocratic Ministry School have given them a basic knowledge of Bible truth for Christian preaching. They have also benefited by education in the public schools. But how far should they go with a secular education? It would hardly be consistent for such a youth, of his own choice, to pursue extensive secular studies beyond what is required by the law and by his parents. According to First Timothy 6:20 it would be unwise to fill one’s mind with philosophies of imperfect men: “O Timothy, guard what is laid up in trust with you, turning away from the empty speeches that violate what is holy and from the contradictions of the falsely called ‘knowledge.’” For this reason additional years of college education may present snares. One may become “brainwashed” by human philosophies so that faith in God and the Bible is destroyed. (Col. 2:8) Many college and university courses are based on false theories, such as evolution, that bolster the old system of things, which will soon pass away forever. (1 John 2:17) A goodly number of the professors have no faith in God or in the Bible and actively teach their godless beliefs. Moreover, there is the corrupting influence that the college atmosphere often has on morals, including the danger of drug addiction.” WT Sep 1, 1975 (Note in bold how university/college is described: empty speeches, brainwashed, etc.)
    (The next two paragraphs:) “In most countries secular schools, public and private, are more filled with lawlessness, violence and corruption (and also drugs) than they were years ago. Admittedly, some schools are very bad. But has the point been reached where Christian youths find it impossible to attend the schools in their communities? This is a question that parents themselves must answer. However, it seems there have been a number of Christian youths who, in agitating for early quitting of school, have used the scare of violence and immorality to pressure their parents into allowing them to drop out. They have prevailed upon their parents, who have become overly protective in sympathy, to agree to take them out of these basic schools. In many cases this has worked to the detriment of the children.
    Experience shows that earnest, serious-minded Christian youths, who are well trained domestically and well taught spiritually in Bible principles, can usually avoid problems. If they are careful to mind their own business, they find that they can attend school regularly with comparative safety. Especially is this so if they watch to keep out of trouble, and do not get involved with sports and other extracurricular group activities. It also works for their protection if they let their Christian light shine, considering their classmates as their field for preaching the good news of the Kingdom. But how much witnessing is actually done by those youths who quit school early? Often they get engulfed in the struggle to make a living, or get married early and find themselves with a family to support.” (Italics and bold added.)
    (Note that these two paragraphs describe the conditions in middle and high schools; yet the consensus is that children can withstand the influences there. Why is college any different? Why does the author feel that Christian students can resist at the middle and high school levels and then suddenly fall victim at the college level? Your influences on education, modern day:
    Kingdom Ministry June 2001 for week starting July 2nd 2001
    15 min: Youths—Be Wise in Choosing Your Career. This is the first of three Service Meeting parts that will review Scriptural principles relates to supplemental education. Some Christian youths are pursuing secular careers through higher education, which is having a negative impact on their spirituality. This part is a discussion between two parents and their teenage son or daughter. The youth is at a point where a serious decision needs to be made about future goals. Although some may want to pursue financial advantages, prestige, or comforts of life, the family examines the Bible to see what it recommends. (See Young People Ask, pages 174-5; The Watchtower, August 15, 1997, page 21, and September 1, 1999, pages 19-21, paragraphs 1-3 and 5-6.) The youth agrees that it is wise to pursue a course in life that will serve him or her well in achieving theocratic goals to advance Kingdom interests.
    *** Kingdom Ministry April 1999 p.8 ***
    3 What have you cultivated as your prime concern during your youth? Are you mainly interested in seeking financial advantage, or do you really want to use your life to advance Kingdom interests? A university degree does not guarantee success in the job market. As an alternative, many have acquired marketable job skills by means of apprenticeship programs, some vocational or technical school education, or short-term college courses that require a minimum of time and involvement. (apparently it is either/or)
    4 Take Jehovah at His Word: An all-important fact to consider is the assurance from Jehovah God that he will provide for those who put Kingdom interests first in life. (Aside: does this mean that if we pioneer God will provide us with a job? How will we know if any job we are offered is His job? If we don’t put kingdom interests first will we automatically fail? How do I know how much education to get in order to have Him provide for me?)(Matt. 6:33) This is not an idle promise. Many brothers attending the Ministerial Training School earned college degrees prior to learning the truth. But what were they doing for secular work? Very few were pursuing the career for which they had been educated. (Aside: Is that because they have been made to feel that having a high paying job is wrong, and they should quit that job and pioneer? How many is this number? 50%? 25%? How many had a job because they have a degree?) Many were working in service-oriented fields, caring very well for their financial needs while pioneering. By expanding their activity in the ministry, they are receiving blessings far beyond anything monetary. (Aside: this is a different argument; the discussion is does a degree help you get a job that will help you support your family? Where is the empirical data to address this? Instead there is a reference to a scripture that implies that if we pioneer God will make sure we are fed.)
    5 In deciding what you should do after graduation from high school, weigh all the factors and examine your motives carefully. For a balanced view of your choices, consider such information as appeared in Awake! of March 8, 1998, pages 19-21. Speak with your parents, the elders, your circuit overseer, and successful pioneers in your area. That will help you make a wise decision about what you should do with your life.—Eccl. 12:1, 13.
    1992 WT 11/1/1992 15 Many (how many? How many at Bethel have a college education? Do the attorneys have a college degree?? Do the engineers? The software designers?) who are now serving in responsible positions as traveling overseers, at the Society's headquarters, or in one of the branches had only basic education. They were faithful pioneers, never stopped learning, received training, and have been entrusted with greater responsibilities. They have no regrets. (What jobs are they doing? Scrubbing toilets, or baking bread? When they leave Bethel, where will they work?) On the other hand, some of their contemporaries chose to get a university education and fell by the wayside, subjugated by the faith-destroying philosophies and "wisdom of this world."—1 Corinthians 1:19-21; 3:19, 20; Colossians 2:8.
    WT 87 8/15
    9 Your life is shaped not only by those you hold in esteem but often also by relatives and friends who, as they put it, ‘want the best for you.’ ‘You have to earn a living,’ they may say. So they may advise you to get a college or university education to prepare yourself for a well-paying profession. ‘The Bible writer Luke was a physician,’ they may note, ‘and the apostle Paul was instructed by the Law teacher Gamaliel.’ (Colossians 4:14; Acts 5:34; 22:3) Yet, analyze carefully such advice.
    10 The physician Luke never encouraged Christians to follow his former career example by becoming a doctor; rather, Luke held forth the lives of Jesus and his apostles for imitation. Evidently Luke became a physician before he learned about Christ but afterward put his Christian ministry first in life. The situation was similar with Paul. Rather than encouraging others to imitate him as he had imitated Gamaliel, Paul wrote: “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ.” So highly did Paul value the knowledge of Christ that he said that by comparison he considered his former pursuits “as a lot of refuse.”—1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:8.
    11 Remember, sentiment can cause even those who love you to give poor advice. (Amen to that.) For example, when Jesus spoke of what awaited him during his ministry in Jerusalem, the apostle Peter replied: “Be kind to yourself, Lord; you will not have this destiny at all.” Peter loved Jesus and did not want him to suffer. Yet Jesus rebuked Peter because He realized that to fulfill God’s will would involve both suffering and being put to death by opposers.—Matthew 16:21-23. (Is the WT comparing going to 3 or 4 years of school to Jesus NOT doing God’s will?
    Is this the same thing?)
    Awake 1987 1/8
    College Education—A Preparation for What?
    A FEW years ago, columnist Bill Reel wrote an article that appeared in the Daily News, a New York City newspaper, in which he presented some sobering facts about college education
    “What do you know after four years of higher education?” he asked. “No offense, but you don’t know much. Oh, you might know quite a lot about Romantic poets or Renaissance painters or computer technology or accounting procedures. I hope you learned enough to make a living. . . . But nobody 22 years old knows much. You haven’t lived long enough. Wisdom comes only with age. So get humble.(What does this have to do with ADDING knowledge and experience?)
    “You graduate from college with dreams for the future. Sadly, most of your aspirations will turn to ashes. I don’t want to demoralize you, but you might as well hear the truth: When you acquire the possessions you covet, if you acquire them, and when you achieve the successes you pursue, if you achieve them, they won’t satisfy you. Instead, at those very moments when you would expect to be reveling in triumph, you will feel empty rather than fulfilled, depressed rather than elated, agitated rather than peaceful.”
    As for the materialistic temptations that would face such college graduates, Reel pointed out “that all the magazines aimed at bright, upscale, affluent young Americans—aimed, in other words, at you—are packed with ads for sleek automobiles and heady alcohol and chic clothes and elaborate stereos and exotic beauty aids. The media hope to suck you into an unceasing orgy of conspicuous consumption. They will try mightily to persuade you that you urgently require what you merely wish for. They will attempt to confuse needs and wants in your impressionable minds.
    “Many of you will be seduced by these smooth media manipulators, who are expert at exploiting your defects of character. . . . Your flashy acquisitions will give you no satisfaction whatsoever. Quite the reverse, in fact. The quest for possessions is an insatiable appetite that will sap your soul.” (Is the desire to get an education the same as “an insatiable appetite’?)
    (Is this article saying you should not go to college? If you are not very wise after 4 years of college, how wise are you if you don’t go?)
    These are the articles that influenced my generation’s attitude about schooling and higher education. Why is it important to re-read them? For a time the WT softened its stand on education, and in the last 12 months has gone back to demonizing and vilifying college education and those who wish to attend college. The 2005 convention drama featured a greedy businessman in the congregation that was out to exploit the young ones who went to college; one young brother who went to college was portrayed as a craven, spiritually bereft person.
    The only neutral person is the young, fictionally portrayed in this case, Timothy. He manages to resist the greedy urges to go to school, and insists that “all the education I ever needed I got in the congregation.” (This is an absurd notion, and is a lie. The congregations can be a good place for Christian fellowship, but it is not the place where every member can learn the things they will need to earn a living, contribute financially and edify the fellowship.)
    Those were the presented positions; no neutral, realistic position was presented that depicts the reality in many congregations: reasonable business owners who employ college educated and non-college educated members.
    WHY is the leadership in Bethel so afraid of college? Why are Jehovah’s witness youths unable to go to college and come back to their congregation like members of other faiths?
    Does the WT want another entire generation of young ones to get entry level jobs, enter their retirement age with inadequate pensions?
    Back to my original question: Why revisit the WT’s old positions on school? It is because in my view that old, hard line position was internalized by most of the fellowship. Any who grew up in my time retain this idea deep inside, and unless we have confronted it and admit it is a bad idea, we STILL have it. The current writers obviously do. The elders in my hall certainly pay lip service to this idea and tow the line during any meeting that deals with the subject.
    Old ideas do not miraculously go away; in my congregation growing up in the 60’s, there was a sister whose husband died of cancer. She was certain that it was due to cooking with aluminum cookware, an idea that was foisted by the leaders of the WT in the 30’s. A good friend of mine in the mid 70’s still refused vaccinations! She said that it was not really right to take them. OLD BAD IDEAS ARE INTERNALIZED BY THE FELLOWSHIP; THEY DON’T GO AWAY OVERNIGHT WHEN “NEW LIGHT” FLASHES UP.
    So, after years of a somewhat more moderate position about schooling, the WT has gone back to taking a hard line against it. Granted, they will not forbid it, but they do the same thing now as in the 60’s and 70’s: demonize any who go as greedy and lacking in faith, and attack the idea that an education can help you get a better job. Worse yet, they hold out the idea that you do not need a degree to get into Bethel! If you are responsible for filling a skill position at Bethel, who will you hire if you need the job done? One with 5 years of pioneering, or one with 4 years college and 2 years of pioneering? If you want to get the job done, you will choose the person with the degree.
    And here is the real question: How many of us will be able to go to Bethel??? There are probably 1 million young people in the org, maybe more. Will we all qualify for Bethel? Could they take even 100,000 young ones at Bethel?
    PLEASE see the reality, WT, and stop destroying the future of yet another generation of innocent, well meaning young people.

  • Forscher

    I know whence you cometh! I passed up a chance for an education in 1975 at my choice of top-notch institutions because I listened to that tripe from the organization. although I've since gotten a bachelor's degree, it may be a bit more symbolic than of any use since I am right at 50 and my chances of STARTING a career aren't the best.

    All I can say to any lurkers who may be reading, is DON'T LISTEN TO THE WTBTS ON THIS ONE! GET YOUR EDUCATION! Belive me, you will regret not doing it more than getting that education.


  • FairMind

    The answer to the WTS’ stance must be that they see declining numbers. So they come down hard as they always have on anyone not giving their life to the WTS. I for one believe the Societies approach is counter-productive and often drives people out of the organization. When (in the 80’s) I urged my daughters to further their education, I was denounced (although not by name) from the platform as a person who espoused the demonic propaganda of higher education.

  • Pistoff
    I was denounced (although not by name) from the platform as a person who espoused the demonic propaganda of higher education.

    And isn't that just symbolic of how they deal with this issue? Never straight up, only by innuendo and from the side. Those who go to college are painted as greedy, materialistic, spiritually lacking.

    I am so sick of it I could scream.

    I wonder, if we took a poll, how many here postponed or did not go due to discouraging articles like the ones noted above? That isn't even all of them.

  • Finally-Free

    The watchtower stand on education has long been a source of irritation to me. They have, in some articles, suggested that young people could get into trades such as automotive repair, computer repair, plumbing, electrician, etc. They say they want young people to consider pioneer service, but pioneer service is incompatible with learning such a trade. Many of these trades require a person to enter a 5 year full time apprenticeship program in order to be licensed. That rules out pioneering right out of high school. Finding part time work in many of these trades is also extremely difficult. Also, some of these fields require lifelong learning in order to stay up to date with current technologies.

    I used to work as a window cleaner, and also as a machinist. After several injuries and surgeries to my knees and back my doctor told me I needed to retrain, as I could no longer do that type of work. So I went to school to learn computer repair and network administration. I was counseled by elders many times because I was going to school, and once I was criticized from the platform as well. Once I was established in my new field I occasionally took evening or Saturday courses that would last a few weeks at a time so I could stay up to date. These courses never interfered with meetings or service, but the elders saw fit to counsel me anyway, and eventually took away my "privileges" as account servant and sound man. They specifically said it was because I was taking courses. So, in print they say it's ok to learn a trade, but in fact, they try hard to discourage even that. They are afraid of someone who knows how to think critically.

    I wonder if it would do any good to scan Watchtower articles on education, add some personal experiences, and distribute these to school guidance counsellors and politicians in education ministries.


  • wannaexit

    PLEASE see the reality, WT, and stop destroying the future of yet another generation of innocent, well meaning young people.

    Well said!!!!

    I feel your bitterness. I am also of that generation and know exactly what you are feeling. I didin't go to on to college or university. Neither did my husband and all my other friends in the congregation. The few that went were ostracized and critizied.

    But I believe that WT will not win on this one. I know personally of at least 10 Jw of my generation that have children that will be going to college and university. I don't know if this is a local thing here. But it does not seem the flock is listening.

    Thanks for that research, definite keeper


  • Dune

    oooo college again.

    Dont make ANY mistake about it guys. College will almost certainly ruin your "spirituality" simply because they make you THINK. In my first social studies class, I was asked to write an autobiography about how i looked at the world, and why I act the way I do. I learned that Right and Wrong is relative and depends on your upbringing.

    It was after my first semester in college that i really started thinking about what i was reading in college, instead of following the prescribed questions, i asked questions on my own. Now at my fourth semester, i'm sort of in a bind about whether or not i should leave. Along with myself, there is another guy that goes to college in my kingdom hall. My brother plans on going once he graduates. I think the worst thing about all this is, that while i'm still VERY active in the congregation. I feel that i'm treated like i'm already disfellowshipped.

  • Seeker4

    Great references here. And boy, did they hit home!

    I was a junior/senior in high school when those articles came out in the 1969 Watchtower. You can imagine what an impact they had on me and my generation. I've often thought what my life would have been if I'd gotten an education. I even had a teacher offer to help pay for me to go to college, telling me that in all her years of teaching, she'd never met a student who she felt so strongly should get a college education.

    I turned down the offer in order to pioneer. Hey, Armageddon was right around the corner. Yeah, I'm pistoff too!

    I have two grandchildren who are being raised as JWs - and I am totally on their parents to make sure they don't make that same mistake.


  • Truth.Seeker

    As for me and my family, I will promote my children going to college to be able to support themselves as they keep their spiritual interests in the forefront of their lives. I am reminded of the story that Jesus told about the slaves that were given an amount of money and the wise slave invested it and returned more to his master. And the master rewarded that slave with more over his household. In the same manner, I believe that by being wise with material things that we have been blessed with and making it work for us, is wisdom being put to good use. Cited scripture - Luke 19:11-27

  • serendipity

    As a young JW, I ignored the counsel and started college in 1981 while living at home. I was treated coolly by the cong, and not exactly encouraged, but not marked either. I knew I had to do what I thought was right for me. I didn't exactly have the support of my family, but my mother tolerated it.

    In the interest of balance, not everyone is cut out to go to college. And not everyone is cut out to sit in a cubicle staring at a computer for large portions of a day. I've known several college grads change careers to get jobs that would get them outdoors. There's no shame working in the trades, and many of the trades have an aging population, so there are plenty of opportunities. The pay is usually pretty good and those with a business aptitude can start their own businesses. Young adults should be encouraged to pursue careers in their areas of interests and/or aptitudes. We spend too much time at work to be stuck in boring, dead-end positions that don't use our talents.

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