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Ellen G. White - Guiding principles

Ellen G. White - Guiding principlesEllen G. White - Guiding principles

It's amazing, but also true: The woman whose formal education did not progress beyond the third grade was instrumental in founding an educational system that today circles the globe reaching thousands of lives. Ellen White sparked an ongoing revolution in education.

At the heart of Adventist education is a realization that what’s involved is far more than just accumulating grades and degrees. Indeed, "Adventists believe that the work of redemption and the work of Christian education are one and the same.”1

As Ellen White explained in her keystone work on the subject, Education: "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.”2

Ellen believed, rightly, that "Like our Saviour, we are in this world to do service for God. … A knowledge of God is the foundation of all true education and of all true service. It is the only real safeguard against temptation. It is this alone that can make us like God in character.”3

In 19th Century America, Ellen White observed several trends that helped form her views of education. "Classical education” fitted people to discuss the ancient philosophers but may have been ill-suited to a nation undergoing massive growth and development, culminating in the industrial era that exploded following the Civil War. Ellen was also influenced by education pioneer Horace Mann, who emphasized a "practical” education for the nation’s youth.4

Add in to this Ellen’s observation of experiments such as the early Oberlin College in Ohio, where biblical education was to blend with manual labor and required study in physiology. The school’s goal was to "educate the whole man,” and while, as biographer Herbert E. Douglass notes, the Oberlin experiment failed, the philosophy made its impression on Ellen G. White.5

As a result, many early Adventist schools included work-study programs that not only taught students useful trade schools such as farming, dairy, furniture manufacturing, and agriculture, but also provided income for the fledgling institutions. Today, many Adventist schools continue to rely on such projects to train students and supplement tuition income.

(1) Akers, George H. and Seabrough, Charles (1993) "The Role of SDA Education in the Formation of Adventist Lifestyle," Journal of the Adventist Theological Society: Vol. 4 : Iss. 1 , Article 2.  Accessed online at https://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/jats/vol4/iss1/2, on December 5, 2018.
(2) White, Ellen G., Education, p. 15, para. 2. Online at https://egwwritings.org/?ref=en_Ed.15.2&para=29.42, accessed December 5, 2018.
(3) White, Ellen G., Ministry of Healing, p. 409, para. 1-2, Online at https://egwwritings.org/?ref=en_MH.409.1&para=135.2076, accessed December 5, 2018.
(4) Cited in Douglass, Herbert E., Messenger of the Lord, p. 344, Online at https://m.egwwritings.org/en/book/656.3147#3153, accessed December 5, 2018.
(5) Ibid.

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