Update 10/25/13: This editorial, originally published in the June 2013 issue of OUTLOOK and published online June 3, has won the Best in Class Award for Print Category: Editorial at the 2013 Society of Adventist Communicators conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Teaching has always been my passion, and teaching in Adventist schools was a part of my being even before I graduated from Union College. For me, the idea of not incorporating an Adventist worldview in everything that happens in the classroom is incompatible with being a teacher.

What, exactly, is the Adventist worldview? It begins with the Bible as the standard by which we measure everything. This brings four key concepts to our curriculum development: God’s original intention (the perfect world of Creation); how that intention has been distorted (the Fall); how God helps us respond (Redemption); and finally, how we are restored in the image of God (Re-creation). Everything we do in curriculum development begins and ends with these four concepts.

I remember how teachers throughout my school years in Adventist education communicated these concepts to us. Mrs. Clayborn was so kind to us as we studied in the basement of the church. Mr. Wilson wasn’t afraid to play jacks with us and to instill a love of music as he celebrated the pieces we played at our piano recitals. Elder Holtz taught History during my academy years and also invited students to his home for Friday night vespers. In college, Elder Baldwin taught us how to search the Bible for deep truths. These teachers and many others had a key part—not only in my training for life on this earth but in leading me to Christ and in my decision to remain faithful to God.

Nevertheless, I sometimes hear questions about whether Adventist education is still important. From my perspective, the answer is a resounding yes. And I remember an Adventist principal (who had also worked in the public schools) explain four practices that make Adventist schools different from public schools:

1. Daily staff worships give teachers a shot in the arm and prepare them for the day. Even teachers in a one room classroom spend time in prayer and study.

2. Weeks of Prayer provide an opportunity for God to touch students’ hearts. Teachers have seen hard-hearted students melt as the Holy Spirit molds their lives during these special weeks.

3. We are able to talk about and pray about tragedies from a biblical view.

4. Redemptive discipline is practiced. Many times I’ve seen how the Holy Spirit works when prayerful discipline decisions are made.

The North American Division has created a document entitled “The Core of Adventist Education Curriculum”1 that guides in the development of curriculum so that the Adventist worldview is at the forefront of every curriculum, instructional, and assessment decision. Four curricular goals inform this decision-making process and provide guidance to teachers in the classroom:

1. Learners will choose to accept God as the Creator and the Redeemer.

2. Learners will grow in their knowledge and understanding of God’s creation.

3. Learners will creatively apply their spiritual, physical, intellectual, and social-emotional knowledge.

4. Learners will demonstrate their commitment to the Creator through service to others.

Curriculum, instruction, and assessment design inculcate the Adventist worldview at every step. Curriculum standards define what students should know and be able to do; they also provide a framework for curriculum development. Instruction encourages teachers to present curriculum in many different ways so that students can connect, explain, apply, and extend learning. Different types of assessment are utilized that are aligned with the curriculum standards to inform instruction and help students develop self-assessment skills.

Teaching and sharing from an Adventist worldview is a part of my being. It’s also what I see happening every day as I visit schools throughout Mid-America. Not only do we witness excellent academic education, we are seeing the development of the whole person—“the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers” (Ellen White, Education, p. 9).**

Guest author LouAnn Howard is associate director of education for the Mid-America Union.


*Available at http://bit.ly/13xSSLO

**White, Ellen G., Education. Pacific Press, 2000.