Friday, September 12, 2014


If you’ve ever ridden a roundabout at a fair, you’ll know you can jump on a horse, travel quite a distance, and never get anywhere but where you started. It seems to me, with my limited observation, that Adventist education tends to be like that. I’ve noticed recently a fairly frequent occurrence of Adventist teaching students returning to their childhood schools for teaching practice - at least where I live. Upfront, I need to say that I am not an expert on SDA education - all of my education was in public schooling (for which I am very grateful). But it seems to me that Adventist education has the tendency to reinforce Adventism than it does promote genuine education.

In a church service recently, I heard a deputy principal of an Adventist school express the importance of Adventist education because, if it doesn’t continue, Adventist youth may end up leaving the church if they need to attend non-Adventist institutions of learning. This same deputy principal recently also presented a very simplistic warfare approach to the issue of science vs the Bible.

In my opinion, these practices and approaches are not genuine education. To change the metaphor, ‘The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.’ (Sydney J Harris) Much of what I see and hear about Adventist education seems to about looking into a mirror and ensuring one conforms to presupposed truth rather than looking through a window to see the reality of the world.

What do you think? Is my perception correct? How do you view Adventist education?

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you, Steve. I’m not sure at what age Adventist children should be gently and carefully given the opportunity to compare the reality of the Adventist bubble—Jesus loves me, this I know—with reality that occur when mirrors become windows, as you so aptly put it. The following is my version of what Adventist education should look like.

    Adventist education is a great place to find a spouse, but there can be no “education” without questions, and educated men and women will, invariably, question their religious beliefs. If they come to believe that the foundational beliefs of Adventism cannot be supported by rational and/or scientific evidence, these young people have to make a decision about what to do. It’s at this point that the Adventist community should be prepared assure these men and women that personal integrity should not be compromised to make anyone more religiously comfortable, and questions are part of healthy spiritual growth. They should be assured that they will always be members of the Adventist community in good standing, regardless of way their quest for answers shape their lives.

    This scenario, obviously, is currently a faint hope, but where there is hope, there is at least a spark of life.