August 1, 2014
Online Journal - God’s Way of Education
Michelle Northam, Principal, Coralwood Adventist Academy, Edmonton, AB

Most Adventists acknowledge there were two institutions established at the beginning of the world; the Sabbath and marriage between a man and woman.  However, there was actually a third institution given at the time of creation: the education of our young.  Adventist Education is a part of a long educational history in which different entities have received direct instruction from God on how we are to educate our young. 
Garden of Eden:  “The system of education instituted at the beginning of the world was to be a model for man throughout all aftertime. The system of education established in Eden centred in the family… the family was the school and the parents were the teachers” (Education 20, 33).  Even though this paradise school ended, His education did not.  Just as God had a plan of redemption for eternal life, He also had a plan for continuing Godly education.
Israelites: When the Israelites left Egypt, they were unable to work with God in educating their children.  The parents were “confused by false teaching and corrupted by their long contact with heathenism” (Education 33).  So, God provided prophets to educate the people. Here we see first see mention of an organized school system, outside of the family; the school of the prophets, complete with professional teachers.       
Greeks: Moving forward in time, we see a struggle between two school systems emerge.  Paul battled against the three educational centres of the world at the time: Corinth, Ephesus, and Athens. Their education centred around art, science and philosophy. “The whole theory of Greek education, both in science and philosophy, was doubt and skepticism” (The Bible in Education 10). The apostle spent eighteen months planting a Christian school in Corinth and then wrote, “After that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor. 1:21). It was through this school that many of the Gentiles became Christians.
Waldensians: In time, God’s way of education was overshadowed by papal run universities. It was now up to the Waldensians to keep the flame alive for both the Sabbath and God’s way of education. Waldensian youth, after having completed all the education they could gain in their native land, would go to one of the papal universities in the surrounding countries.  Because of their influence, other students were converted, and they then took truths back to their countries.  Wylie states, “At times the principles of truth were found permeating the entire school, but try as they might, the papal leaders were unable to trace the teaching to its source” (The History of Protestantism 29, 30).
1800’s: The papal style of education stayed much the same until the 1800s.  The schools were for the elite and often cosmetic in nature.  In his book, Studies in Christian Education, E.A. Sutherland writes: “The curriculum of education in many universities was chosen for them. The courses were arbitrary and were suited to the needs of the papacy. The Lord, in order to prepare workers for the midnight cry, inspired the reformers to attack the course of study that held the students mind on the dim and musty past. God was endeavouring to arouse the popular churches to accept Christian education” (20).   
School Reform: Schools began debating about whether they should continue educating students to read and discuss ancient poets and philosophers in Greek and Latin, or whether students should get a practical education based on useful subjects.  It was felt by some that this new curriculum should be based on the Bible.    
The Three Angels Message: It is here that we see Adventist Education grasping the torch and carrying forward God’s way of education by taking a stand and deviating from mainstream schooling.  It started in 1844 when God tried to prepare a people to give out the three angels messages.  This coincided with the educational reform sweeping across North America.  And while the three angels message and the formation of our unique brand of education many not seem to be connected, when the three angels messages were proclaimed, we were also told that the way our children are educated must be changed. Ellen White writes “When the truth for these last days came to the world in the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels messages, we were shown that in the education of our children a different order of things must be brought in” (Testimonies Vol 6 126).
Adventist Education: Education had to do with the holistic, restorative development of the individual in the advancement of the kingdom of God on earth. Church, home and school were an intricate part of a child’s preparation for the Kingdom. 
Modern Public Education: During this time, reform also happened within the public schools. They moved away from the elite system based on Greek literature and moved to what we have today; a new social order where the focus became training society to do work.  This new curriculum was designed around three emerging root sciences:  mental, moral and physical, and it was decided that the Bible would be considered a classic, and eventually banned from the classroom.  Science was to be the new guide!   

New Mandate: The gulf between God’s way of education and man’s way has widened and deepened.  Seventh - day Adventist schools are given a direct mandate to be different: “In our institutions of learning there was to be exerted an influence that would counteract the influence of the world,…it will be impossible to avoid these things and yet send them to the public school” (Special Testimonies 12).    
Warning: We have a solemn warning in the public education of our children in the story of Moses.  Egypt was considered the seat of learning at this time.  Moses had what society deemed the best education in the world. After Moses was educated in Egypt and fled to the plains of Midian in Arabia, it took another forty years to break the yoke of Egypt’s education system and to understand the true science of education. 40 years to undo what that school system taught him! Only then was Moses fit to lead a group of people.  This is ironic because Moses was trained in the best leadership courses Egypt had to offer. However God did not see this worldly kind of education to be of any use. 
A place of learning that counteracts the influence of the world!  What a heavy responsibility to us as Adventist parents and teachers. As Adventist educators, we should humbly stand in awe of the realization that God’s plan of redemption through the Three Angels Message and the education of our youth are a package deal, as it were.  God never intended for there to be one without the other.    
Jones, A. T. (1903). The place of the Bible in education; an appeal to Christians. Oakland, Cal: Pacific Press Pub. Co.
Sutherland, E. A. (1952). Studies in Christian education: educational experiences before the midnight cry compared with educational experiences before the loud cry. Madison, TN: Rural Press.
White, E. G. (1952). Education. Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Association.
White, E.G. (1897) Special Testimonies on Education.  Mountain View, Calf.: Pacific Press Pub. Association.
White, E. G. (1948). Testimonies for the church, Volume 6, (4th ed.). Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Association.
Wylie, J. A. (1878). The History of Protestantism, Volume 1, London: Cassell & Co.