Chapter 29

Education/1

Principles and Philosophy

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Educational Principles
Train Students to Be Thinkers, Not Mere Reflectors
Endnotes
Study Questions


Ellen White’s “able articulation of the role of Christian education as a prime vehicle for the transmission of religious values and purpose constitutes a profound theology of Christian education.”1

Ellen G. White was recognized as the “prophetic thought leader of Adventist education from its inception until her death in 1915. . . . It is impossible to comprehend Adventist education either currently or historically without understanding the role and impact of Ellen White upon its development. She was not only a central figure in its development, but she was the only Adventist leader who was in constant prominence from its beginnings up through the end of its formative period (about 1910).”2

Nowhere in the writings of Ellen White do we find the principles of the Great Controversy Theme more explicitly unfolded than in her writings on educational principles. Her understanding of redemption as “restoration” lies at the heart of her educational philosophy.3 These educational principles were developed, on one hand, within the context of nineteenth century attempts to reform education, and, on the other, within the denominational context of “comparative indifference to education reform.”4

Voices that attempted to reform educational systems in the nineteenth century sounded like lonely cries in the wilderness. The nineteenth century was a transition era from centuries of traditional thinking. In almost every area of American life—including theology, philosophy, medicine, industrialization, and education—the nineteenth century was in ferment.

In education, the struggle focused on the old wineskins of classical education that focused on the words (ancient languages) and ideas (philosophies) of Western civilization.5 The educated person, as a common denominator, was expected to read and discuss the ancient poets and philosophers in Greek and Latin. However, the question was being asked: With the emergence of democratic ideas, more leisure time, and changing work conditions and expectations, was this elitist, bookish education meeting the needs of “modern” times? John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Heinrich Pestalozzi, and others had been saying “no” for several centuries, but their efforts made little “dent” in traditional education.6

However, two influences in the nineteenth century were significant and made some impact on Adventist educational reform. Horace Mann (1796-1859) was perhaps the leader in establishing the need for the public school elementary system in the United States.7 He also wrote extensively on the early need for children to understand physiology and to get a practical education.8

The other major influence centered in educational experiments with manual labor coupled with the emphasis on Biblical instruction rather than the traditional classics at certain academic institutions. Oberlin College (Ohio), the best known of these centers, promoted the Bible as “a textbook in all the departments of education,” integrated a manual labor program for all students, required physiology, and fostered a campus environment of non-competition in areas usually associated with prizes and honors. Its president/founder announced: “The system of education in this Institute will provide for the body and heart as well as the intellect: for it aims at the best education of the whole man.” But by the late 1850s these remarkable educational reforms had lost their initial enthusiasm and their programs soon conformed to the prevailing pattern of other American colleges.9

Though Oberlin faded as a reforming institution, probably because it did not maintain a compelling spiritual context, other voices arose that emphasized a more practical education (progressive education) in unseating the classics with more “useful” subjects and in promoting manual education. The president of Johns Hopkins University in 1888 declared that manual training not only improved physical health but also “increased mental vigor.”10 But these voices were not mainstream.

The similarity between Ellen White’s educational reform message and that of a few, clear voices of her time rests on the obvious fact that all those involved in educational reform were contending with the same problems: classic curricula rather than a more practical education; poorly ventilated, poorly lighted classrooms; direct relationship between manual training/exercise with mental vigor, even spiritual values; and education as an important factor in character development. Especially when Bible-oriented reformers attempted educational reform, one would expect general agreement on principles and practice. Ellen White understood this when in her book Education she wrote this remarkable summation of educational principles: “We can trace the line of the world’s teachers as far back as human records extend; but the Light was before them. As the moon and the stars of our solar system shine by the reflected light of the sun, so, as far as their teaching is true, do the world’s great thinkers reflect the rays of the Sun of Righteousness. Every gleam of thought, every flash of the intellect, is from the Light of the world.”11

Is there anything unique about Ellen White’s principles of education? Her special contribution lies in the unity and clarity of her educational philosophy, unencumbered with the fads and “false leads” of nineteenth century contemporaries.12 Although a few contemporaries also saw the religious purpose of education, Mrs. White placed education within the Great Controversy Theme, including its vital role in eschatology (the study of last-day events). Originality is not the test of a prophet; dynamic freshness, coherence and unity that harmonizes with the Bible is.13


Educational Principles

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· “Fatal errors” of prevailing educational philosophies focus either on intellectual attainment, temporal success, or even correct behavior, hoping to “develop the good that exists in man by nature.”14 Ellen White drove past these flattering, self-serving purposes of education with the simple clarity that “redemption . . . is the object of education.”15

Not wanting to leave this definition in an undefinable generality, she explained the Biblical framework for connecting education with redemption (note the four cornerstones): “In order to understand what is comprehended in the work of education, we need to consider both the nature of man and the purpose of God in creating him. We need to consider also the change in man’s condition through the coming in of a knowledge of evil, and God’s plan for still fulfilling His glorious purpose in the education of the human race.”16 This educational strategy can be understood only within the framework of the Great Controversy Theme.

· First and constant aim of Christian education. Thus, for Christian teachers on whatever level, their “first effort and . . . constant aim” should be (1) to aid “the student in comprehending these principles,” and (2) to enter “into that relation with Christ which will make [these principles] a controlling power in the life.”17 Ellen White reiterated often that the “all-important thing” in education “should be the conversion” of students.18 “It is upon the foundation of the new birth experience that Christian education can proceed with its other aims and purposes. If it fails at the foundational and primary point, it has failed entirely.”19

· Fundamental aim sets agenda. This fundamental aim of education—to restore the broken relationship between God and the student—sets the educational agenda and curriculum. All the other purposes of education are enlightened and molded by this primary purpose. Christian teachers know that character education (not personality change in order to add to one’s self-esteem or to assist in climbing the career ladder) seeks “to restore the image of Christ in those placed under their care.”20

· Towering motivation for reaching one’s full potential. The Great Controversy Theme leaves its mark on all phases of the Christian’s life. “Restoration” is its key thought. The full development of all human capabilities is the goal before every Christian. The Energy of heaven is promised to those who permit the heavenly current to flow. But that Energy flows only in the direction of loving service. That is why Ellen White wrote that astounding sentence: “The development of all our powers is the first duty we owe to God and to our fellow men.”21

Self-development, yes. But not to become Number One! The pursuit of excellence? Yes! “We should cultivate every faculty to the highest degree of perfection, that we may do the greatest amount of good of which we are capable. . . . God will accept only those who are determined to aim high. . . . And those who would be workers together with God must strive for perfection of every organ of the body and quality of the mind. True education is the preparation of the physical, mental, and moral powers for the performance of every duty; it is the training of body, mind, and soul for divine service.”22

· The pursuit of intellectual greatness if. . . . Students are challenged “to reach to the highest point of intellectual greatness . . . if balanced by religious principle.”23 “Dullness and ignorance are no virtue.”24 “The highest culture of the mind, if sanctified through the love and the fear of God, receives His fullest approval.”25 “All who engage in the acquisition of knowledge should strive to reach the highest round of the ladder. Let students advance as fast and as far as they can; let the field of their study be as broad as their powers can compass; but let them make God their wisdom.”26

· Occupational skills imperative. Further, each student is to join intellectual pursuits with “a knowledge of some trade or occupation by which, if need be, he may earn a livelihood.”27

Learning an occupational skill was urged not merely to be prepared to earn a living if circumstances required such, but also to add vigor to mental studies28 and to provide a special opportunity for character growth. Learning a trade would help produce “a more elevated class of youth . . . with stability of character. They would have perseverance, fortitude, and courage to surmount obstacles.” In fact, if students had to make a choice between a knowledge of the sciences or a “knowledge of labor for practical life,” Mrs. White would “unhesitatingly answer, The latter. If one must be neglected, let it be the study of books.”29

· School curriculum must be organized to fulfill education’s highest aim. The contrast between secular and Bible-centered curricula is seen most clearly in how the nature of human beings is perceived. Are we products of an evolutionary ascent, or are we created beings, made in the image of our Creator? Is education a matter of “getting ahead” and “succeeding” in a secular career, or is it a process of allowing our Creator to work out His original plan for human beings?

Ellen White’s many references to making the Bible “a textbook in our schools” meant that the Bible should be the “basis of all education.” The Bible should not be inserted into the curriculum “sandwiched in between infidelity,” to merely “flavor” other studies.30

Further, making the Bible “the basis of education” does not mean that it is to be the only textbook for classes such as arithmetic, languages, and geography. The Bible was not given to the human family to be its best encyclopedia, but it does give a worldview that helps to interpret and apply information. Ellen White noted that all academic disciplines, every area of thought, take on “new significance” when seen in the light of the Great Controversy Theme. She meant that all classes must be taught within the framework of the Biblical worldview, that every class should reflect the grand purpose of Christian education—“to restore in man the image of his Maker.”31

· Essential courses of study. In addition to her emphasis on the Biblical context for all classes,32 Ellen White asserted that physiology should be “the first study” in the educational program in order “to preserve health.”33

Vocal training would greatly increase the usefulness of every student. Speaking to both men and women, Ellen White wrote: “However imperfect may be your manner of utterance, you may correct your faults, and refuse to allow yourself to have a nasal tone, or to speak in a thick, indistinct way. If your articulation is distinct and intelligible, your usefulness will be greatly increased. Then do not leave one defective habit of speech uncorrected.”34

· Role of the parents as educators. Educational psychologists and sociologists are alarmed at what many call the most critical issue facing modern civilization—the disintegration of the family.35

Ellen White wrote much about the influence of the home for good or ill in the education of children. Neither parent should shift the responsibilities of educating the children to the other: “Only by working in unison, can the father and mother accomplish the work which God has committed to their hands.”36

But the mother has a unique role: “No other work can equal hers in importance.”37 A surrogate mother is a poor substitute for a biological mother who pursues other goals.38

Why does the responsibility of educating children rest so heavily on parents, especially the mother? Why cannot outside-the-home services such as day-care centers and early kindergartens take the place of parents? Because “lessons learned, the habits formed, during the years of infancy and childhood, have more to do with the formation of character and the direction of the life than have all the instruction and training of after years.”39

In fact, Mrs. White wrote: “The first six or seven years of a child’s life” should be “given to its physical training, rather than the intellect. . . . Parents, especially mothers, should be the only teachers of such infant minds.”40 However, circumstances may require earlier schooling, as Ellen White made clear at St. Helena, California, in 1904.41

One of the startling misconceptions of modern times is that children need parents less after they start school, even after becoming adolescents.42

· Higher education more than information. When Ellen White spoke of “higher education” she meant more than schooling beyond the twelfth grade. In fact, “higher education” had more to do with a religious experience than with advanced information: “Higher education calls for something greater, something more divine, than the knowledge to be obtained merely from books. It means a personal, experimental knowledge of Christ; it means emancipation from ideas, from habits and practices, that have been gained in the school of the prince of darkness.”43

Mrs. White often emphasized that one should excel in literary and science studies but must not accomplish this to the neglect of religious experience. She wrote: “An intellectual religion will not satisfy the soul. Intellectual training must not be neglected, but it is not sufficient. Students must be taught that they are in this world to do service for God. They must be taught to place the will on the side of God’s will.”44 To her, both strict intellectualism, even theological understanding, without Christian commitment, are to be avoided.

One of her frequent themes was that “ignorance will not increase the humility or spirituality of any professed follower of Christ.” Further, “the truths of the divine word can be best appreciated by an intellectual Christian. Christ can be best glorified by those who serve Him intelligently. The great object of education is to enable us to use the powers which God has given us in such a manner as will best represent the religion of the Bible and promote the glory of God.”45

· Teacher credibility. Mrs. White called for teachers who are able to bridge the gap between religion and theology, between experience and knowledge: “The teacher of truth can impart effectively only that which he himself knows by experience.”46 In fact, the teacher’s personal habits and spiritual experience should be “considered of even greater importance than his literary qualifications.”47

· Recreation as necessary as study and labor. A frequent theme in Ellen White’s writings is her call for balance and moderation in most any activity of the Christian. For some who have heard only her call to diligence and perseverance in pursuing excellence, her emphasis on recreation may come as a shock. She wrote early in her ministry: “Recreation is needful to those who are engaged in physical labor, and is still more essential for those whose labor is principally mental. It is not essential to our salvation, nor for the glory of God, to keep the mind laboring constantly and excessively, even upon religious themes.”48

Mrs. White used the word “recreation” in its best sense. She focused on the “re-creating” purpose of withdrawing from the busy program of either mental or physical activity. She suggested, for example, that several families unite and “make an excursion into the country” with tasty and wholesome food in their baskets. What would these families do? She continued: “Parents and children should feel free from care, labor, and perplexity. Parents should become children with their children, making everything as pleasant for them as possible. Let the whole day be given to recreation.”49

But, for Ellen White recreation was not to be a spiritual vacation from Christian commitment. In her landmark book on education, Education, she devoted a chapter to “Recreation.” In that chapter she differentiated between recreation and amusement: “Recreation, when true to its name, re-creation, tends to strengthen and build up. Calling us aside from our ordinary cares and occupations, it affords refreshment for mind and body, and thus enables us to return with new vigor to the earnest work of life. Amusement, on the other hand, is sought for the sake of pleasure, and is often carried to excess; it absorbs the energies that are required for useful work, and thus proves a hindrance to life’s true success.”50

Compared to the pace of life in the nineteenth century, modern families live under much greater stress. One of the paradoxes is that today’s families, though having more “labor-saving devices,” also live more tension-filled, schedule-driven lives than their forbears. Furthermore, very few professions in the Western world require physical activity. The need for recreation today is substantial, not only to “take the mind off” the business at hand but to provide the physical exercise that good health requires. In other words, no people in history have ever needed planned recreation more. At the same time, perhaps no other people in history have ever been confronted with so much pseudo-recreation in the form of spectator sports, passive entertainment, and sedentary amusements.

Ellen White laid out clear principles regarding recreation:

· Students must have vigorous exercise, but it should be done, whenever possible, in the open air.

· Sports of violence, as well as athletic games carried to excess, in addition to promoting the “love of domination [and] the pride in mere brute force . . . stimulate the love of pleasure and excitement, thus fostering a distaste for useful labor, a disposition to shun practical duties and responsibilities.”

· Parents and teachers “can do much to supply diversions wholesome and life-giving” instead of “frivolous associations, habits of extravagance, or pleasure-seeking.”

· The highest form of recreation, filled with blessings to students, are those activities “which make them helpful to others.”

· “The preoccupation of the mind with good is worth more than unnumbered barriers of law and discipline.”51


Train Students to Be Thinkers, Not Mere Reflectors

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Thinkers do more than accept passively the thinking of others; they endeavor to master what others have said or discovered. Thinkers “contemplate the great facts of duty and destiny”; they are “masters and not slaves of circumstances [possessing] breadth of mind, clearness of thought, and the courage of their convictions.”52

How does one fulfill this lofty goal? Ellen White expressed certain principles that “thinkers” should understand:

Thinkers understand the perils of competition. Why one wants to excel is the defining question.

One of her constant themes is the call to excellence, to reach the highest level possible in whatever field of study or lifework one is engaged.53

But a core problem of prevailing educational systems is that it urges excellence for the wrong reasons and its attainment by the wrong methods. Mrs. White asked the question, “What is the trend of the education given?” Then she answered, “To self-seeking.” She described the goals of “true education” as the antithesis of “selfish ambition, the greed for power, and . . . selfish rivalry.” She observed that traditional educational methods “appeal to emulation and rivalry . . . [and] foster selfishness, the root of all evil.”54

“Strife for supremacy” encourages “the system of ‘cramming’” and often “leads to dishonesty.” By driving students to compete, “discontent . . . embitters the life” and “helps to fill the world with . . . restless, turbulent spirits.”55

What feeds this spirit of rivalry and the desire for supremacy? Ellen White pointed to the content of much literature: Students “drink . . . from the wells of paganism . . . fed by the corruptions of ancient heathendom. . . . And of how many modern authors also might the same be said!” In the sciences she saw the effects of “evolution and its kindred errors” that tend “to infidelity.” Further, she saw that the “work of ‘higher criticism’ . . . is destroying faith in the Bible as a divine revelation . . . robbing God’s word of power to control, uplift, and inspire human lives.”

Ellen White saw that when “youth go out into the world” motivated by the assumptions of non-Biblical thought, they have no barriers to meet the prevailing sentiments that “desire is the highest law, that license is liberty, and that man is accountable only to himself.” Youth catch the spirit of society flawed by rivalry and competition and, unless made aware of the price of competition, they have no safeguards to maintain “individual integrity. . . purity of the home, the well-being of society, or the stability of the nation.”56

For Ellen White a world of difference separates excellence and competition. This distinction rests on the purpose of education: to “restore the image of God in the soul.”57 Men and women are to “reach the highest possible degree of excellence,” but this goal cannot be reached by a “selfish and exclusive culture; for the character of God, whose likeness we are to receive, is benevolence and love.”58

To reach the Biblical goal of education, Mrs. White observed, would require a “radical change in some of the current methods of education. Instead of appealing to pride and selfish ambition, kindling a spirit of emulation, teachers would endeavor to awaken the love of goodness and truth and beauty—to arouse the desire for excellence. The student would seek the development of God’s gifts in himself, not to excel others, but to fulfill the purpose of the Creator and to receive His likeness.”59

The inherent flaw in using the spirit of competition to motivate students in the classroom or on the playing field, (or to arouse pastors to reach certain goals and congregations to raise funds, etc.) is that competition is not a principle of God’s kingdom of love—cooperation is.60 To fulfill the purpose of education, to restore in men and women the image of their Maker, “the temptation to be first would be quenched in the lessons daily learned in the school of Christ.”61

Modern educational psychologists have recognized that competition is not a valid motivator. They point out three basic flaws. Flaw One: That young people need competitive experiences in order to enter a competitive society. Flaw Two: That competition is an effective motivator. Granted, they say, competition is “valuable as a motivator only for those people who believe that they can win.” But those who do not believe that they can win are not so motivated; they are further “discouraged and disillusioned.” Flaw Three: The stress on competition leads to morality breakdown and to the compelling rule that the end justifies the means.62

Thinkers (both students and teachers) have learned that mere memorization is insufficient. Thinking is a learned event. Learning to think is a joint effort by thinking teachers and eager students. Ellen White urged Bible teachers especially “to make the students understand their lessons, not by explaining everything to them, but by requiring them to explain clearly every passage they read. Let these teachers remember that little good is accomplished by skimming over the surface.”63

Dynamic discussion with students repeating the teacher’s explanations “in their own language” so that it can be determined that “they clearly comprehend” their lessons may be “a slow process,” but it is of “ten times more value than rushing over important subjects.” Not only will students better understand the subject, they will be better prepared to explain the material to others.64

Thinkers will appreciate a “moral taste in love of work.” To modern minds, this hardly seems to be a factor in developing thinkers, but it lies close to the root of Ellen White’s philosophy of education. In the establishment of the Avondale school in the late 1890s, she urged a principle that she had been emphasizing for at least twenty years—that students must be educated to be masters of labor, and not slaves of labor. She wanted students to see the “science in the humblest kind of work,” to see “nobility in labor.”

As we have shown on p. 346 “manual occupation . . . is essential” in order to balance and strengthen mental activity. Minds are “abused” when the physical powers are not “equally taxed.”

Further, “habits of industry will be . . . an important aid to the youth in resisting temptation.” “Pent-up energies . . . if not expended in useful employment, will be a continual source of trial to themselves, and to their teachers.”

For these reasons, Ellen White declared that those whose goal is to obtain a “transformed mind and character” will develop “a new moral taste in love of work.”65

Thinkers understand that perseverance and commitment are the price of excellence. To excel in any line of work requires an eye not easily distracted by “the voice of pleasure” and other diversions. Ellen White pleaded with parents and teachers to instruct young people that good intentions “will not avail,” that “no excellence is gained without great labor.” Furthermore, no great achievement is reached quickly or by ignoring “present opportunities.” Those who reach the “height in moral and intellectual attainments . . . must possess a brave and resolute spirit.”66


Endnotes

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1. George H. Akers, “The Role of SDA Education in the Formation of Adventist Lifestyle,” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, Spring, 1993, p. 3.

2.George Knight, Early Adventist Educators (Berrien Springs, Mich.: Andrews University Press, 1983), p. 26; “Under the guidance of Ellen White, Seventh-day Adventists have always been committed to quality education. . . . The quality of Adventist education was virtually assured by the active role that Ellen White played in establishing the system.”—Provonsha, Remnant in Crisis, p. 27. “Ellen White . . . the denomination’s first and major writer on educational theory.”—SDAE, vol. 1, p. 497; “Mrs. White’s educational thinking forms the philosophical base for the Seventh-day Adventist program of education.”—Richard Lesher’s conclusion in his doctoral dissertation, “Ellen G. White’s Concept of Sanctification,” New York University, 1970; “How did we get into this system of Christian education that is distinctive in all the world, and that has brought such fruitage in training workers for gospel service? You know how we were led into this thing. You know the years in which that gift of the Spirit of prophecy continually warned us and exhorted us and drew us and marked the way for us to follow. All through these books by the Spirit of prophecy the true educational idea is emphasized.”—W. A. Spicer, “The Spirit of Prophecy in the Advent Movement,” Report of the Blue Ridge Educational Convention (Washington, D.C.: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1937), p. 79.

3.“To restore in man the image of his Maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was created, to promote the development of body, mind, and soul, that the divine purpose in his creation might be realized—this was to be the work of redemption. This is the object of education, the great object of life.”—Education, pp. 15, 16. See p. 297.

4.Graham, Ellen G. White, Co-founder, p. 91.

5.The aims and purposes of education have been a major concern of all societies and great thinkers, at least from the time of Aristotle: “That education should be regulated by law and should be an affair of state is not to be denied, but what should be the character of this public education, and how young persons should be educated, are questions which remain to be considered. As things are, there is disagreement about the subjects. For mankind are by no means agreed about the things to be taught, whether we look to virtue or the best life. Neither is it clear whether education is more concerned with intellectual or with moral virtue. The existing practice is perplexing; no one knows on what principle we should proceed—should the useful in life, or should virtue, or should the higher knowledge, be the aim of our teaching; all three opinions have been entertained. Again, about the means there is no agreement; for different persons, starting with different ideas about the nature of virtue, naturally disagree about the practice of it.”—Richard McKeon, ed., The Basic Works of Aristotle (New York: Random House, 1941), “Politica,” book VIII, ch. 2, pp. 1305, 1306.

6.See Knight, Early Adventist Educators, pp. 4, 5.

7.Ibid., pp. 5, 6.

8.James and Ellen White published excerpts from Mann’s writings in Health: Or How to Live (V:19-25; VI:25-47). Writing from Australia, Mrs. White asked her son, Edson, who was contemplating the journey, to bring with him certain books that Mann had authored.

9.Knight, Early Educators, pp. 5, 6.

10. Ibid.

11. Education, pp. 13, 14.

12. George R. Knight, Myths in Adventism (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1985), p. 36.

13. Ibid. See George H. Akers, “The Role of SDA Education in the Formation of Adventist Lifestyle,” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, Spring, 1993, p. 3: “Because Seventh-day Adventists believe that the work of redemption and the work of Christian education are one and the same, we have in that very belief the conceptual construct for a theology of education: the Christian Gospel—in theory and application.”

14. Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, p. 49; Steps to Christ, pp. 18, 19.

15. Education, p. 16.

16. Ibid., pp. 14, 15.

17. Ibid., p. 30. In the mid-nineties, world leader of the Adventist educational system, Humberto Rasi, summarized the objectives of Adventist education: “1. To educate Seventh-day Adventist youth for a useful life, in the context of Christian faith and Biblical values, keeping in balance their intellectual, spiritual, physical, and social development. 2. To train future Adventist leaders and denominational workers, encouraging them to devote their talents to accomplishing the church’s mission until Jesus comes. 3. To deepen the commitment of Adventist youth to Christ, and to attract to His church non-Adventist youth of high ideals, helping all of them to develop Christlike characters. 4. To exert an uplifting influence on society, the nation, and the world through service, evangelism, research, and discoveries carried out by Adventist educators, students, and alumni. 5. To cooperate with church leaders and members in discovering new truths, developing mission strategies, and providing Adventist answers to the ethical issues faced by society.”—“A Matter of Mission,” The Journal of Adventist Education, Summer, 1994.

18. Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 436.

19. Knight, Myths, p. 51.

20. Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 61.

21. Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 329. See Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 15.

22. Ibid., p. 330.

23. Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 48.

24. Ibid., p. 316.

25. Ibid., p. 47.

26. Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, p. 394.

27. Education, p. 218.

28. “Students will realize elasticity of spirit and vigor of thought, and will be able to accomplish more mental labor in a given time than they could by study alone.”—Ibid., p. 44.

29. Ibid., pp. 40, 41.

30. Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 131, 395, 474; Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 131. “The Bible constitutes the basis and reference point of school endeavors. The entire curricular and co-curricular program reflects the world view and the principles revealed in the Scriptures. Teachers and students believe that the same Holy Spirit that inspired the Bible writers will guide those who approach it with a teachable attitude.”—Humberto Rasi, “Back to the Real Basics,” The Journal of Adventist Education, October/November, 1995.

31. Education, p. 125; “Religion and business are not two separate things; they are one. Bible religion is to be interwoven with all we do or say.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 349. “If I, as a Christian teacher, am teaching the same material in the same way that it is presented in a public institution, then what right do I have to take the hard-earned money of my constituents? . . . Christian education that does not provide a Christian understanding of the arts, sciences, humanities, and the world of work is not Christian. One major aim of Christian education must be to help students think Christianly.”—Knight, Myths, pp. 139-151.

32. See Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 123-137.

33. Ibid., p. 26; “Physical health lies at the very foundation of all the student’s ambitions and his hopes. Hence the preeminent importance of gaining a knowledge of those laws by which health is secured and preserved. Every youth should learn how to regulate his dietetic habits—what to eat, when to eat, and how to eat. He should learn how many hours to give to study and how much time to spend in physical exercise. . . . The proper regulation of his habits of eating, sleeping, study, and exercise, is a duty which every student owes to himself, to society, and to God.”—Ibid., p. 72; “The relation of the physical organism to the spiritual life is one of the most important branches of education. . . . He who remains in willing ignorance of the laws of his physical being, and who violates them through ignorance, is sinning against God.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 348; “The importance of caring for the health should be taught as a Bible requirement.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 295.

34. Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 215; see Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 335-339; The Voice in Speech and Song, pp. 178, 179.

35. Knight, Myths, pp. 71-87; Akers, “Role of SDA Education . . . ,” Journal of Adventist Theological Society, Spring, 1993, p. 15.

36. Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 69.

37. The Ministry of Healing, p. 378.

38. Circumstances, notably death or some other uncontrollable event, often alter the best of intentions. The wise father will do all he can to fill the void in some way so that his child’s need for security and loving direction is met.

39. Ibid., p. 380; see “The Child,” The Ministry of Healing, pp. 379-387.

40. Selected Messages, book 2, p. 437; Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 21.

41. See pp. 95-97.

42. The Ministry of Healing, p. 394. Urie Bronfenbrenner, a recognized child psychologist, wrote: “If there’s any reliable predictor of trouble, it probably begins with children coming home to an empty house, whether the problem is reading difficulties, truancy, dropping out, drug addiction, or childhood depression.”—“Nobody Home: The Erosion of the American Family,” Psychology Today, May 1977, p. 41.

43. Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, pp. 11, 12. “It is necessary that both teachers and students not only assent to truth, but have a deep, practical knowledge of the operations of the Spirit.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 435.

44. Ibid., p. 540.

45. Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 45.

46. Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 435.

47. Ibid., p. 19. “The over-arching purpose of our schools, the macro effect, when it’s all said and done, is to give our youth a Christian world view—to see everything from God’s point of view, as revealed in His inspired word. It’s giving our students a ‘Christian mind.’ . . . The integration of faith and learning is not some special teaching method; it’s general teacher behavior (modeling!). Presuppositional thinking . . . must . . . bear on every study in the Christian critique. Students . . . must practice it together under the example and coaching of a benign Christian teacher. If there is a secret driving force that gives true Christian education its peculiar potency, it is this. Have no doubt about it, this natural, unfeigned, pervasive integration of faith and learning is the distinguishing mark of a truly Christian school, at whatever level. . . . The credibility of such teacher life-style, absorbed at close range and for prolonged exposure, is indisputably authentic and has a tremendous molding power on impressionable young minds.”—Akers, “Role of SDA Education . . . ,” Journal of Adventist Theological Society, Spring, 1993, p.11.

48. Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 514.

49. Ibid., p. 515.

50. Education, p. 207.

51. Ibid., pp. 210-213. “Satan would lead [students] to believe that amusements are necessary to physical health; but the Lord has declared that the better way is for them to get physical exercise through manual training, and by letting useful employment take the place of selfish pleasure. The desire for amusement, if indulged, soon develops a dislike for useful, healthful exercise of body and mind, such as will make students efficient in helping themselves and others.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 354. See pages 321-355.

52. Ibid., pp. 17, 18.

53. “[God] designs that His servants shall possess more intelligence and clearer discernment than the worldling, and He is displeased with those who are too careless or too indolent to become efficient, well-informed workers. . . . This lays upon us the obligation of developing the intellect to its fullest capacity, that with all the mind we may know and love our Creator.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 333; see Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 499.

54. Education, pp. 225, 226. “In our institutions of learning there was to be exerted an influence that would counteract the influence of the world, and give no encouragement to indulgence in appetite, in selfish gratification of the senses, in pride, ambition, love of dress and display, love of praise and flattery, and strife for high rewards and honors as a recompense for good scholarship. All this was to be discouraged in our schools.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 286.

55. Education, p. 226.

56. Ibid., pp. 226-229.

57. Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 595.

58. Ibid., p. 595.

59. Ibid. The teacher who understands the purpose of education “will allow nothing to stand in the way of earnest endeavor for self- improvement. He will spare no pains to reach the highest standard of excellence. All that he desires his pupils to become, he will himself strive to be.”—Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 103.

60. “Cooperation should be the spirit of the schoolroom, the law of its life.”—Ibid., p. 285.

61. Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 372.

62. Knight, Myths, pp. 225-229. Alfie Kohn, in the book No Contest, argues that competition is inherently destructive, analyzes the prevailing notion that competition is a prod to productivity, a builder of character, and an unavoidable part of “human nature.” The author assembles an enormous collection of psychological and sociological studies that show that competition causes anxiety, selfishness, self-doubt, and poor communication in the workplace, in the classroom, and between individuals.—(Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1986), 257 pages.

63. Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 483.

64. Ibid., p. 434.

65. Life Sketches, pp. 352-355.

66. Sons and Daughters of God, p. 333.


Study Questions

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1. How does the Great Controversy Theme permeate Ellen White’s philosophy of education?

2. What were the two major influences in the nineteenth century that set the tone for educational reform?

3. What were the “fatal errors” that prevailed in educational philosophies in the nineteenth century and perhaps today?

4. What did Ellen White mean by the term “higher education”?

5. How did Ellen White incorporate recreation in her philosophy of education?

6. Analyze the positive and negative aspects of competition.

7. Explain how Ellen White’s emphasis on “intellectual greatness” and “self-development” fits her primary aim of education as “restoring in man the image of his Maker.”

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