When I lived in the United States and worked as a pastor, I quite often heard the same question. “Is there any sense in paying tuition if my son or daughter returns home without their faith?” Why are so many parents asking this and similar questions? Could it be that there is waning spirituality in many educational institutions? Working as an Adventist educator myself with graduate and postgraduate students in various classroom settings, I see what a great privilege and a tremendous responsibility it is to be a Seventh-day Adventist teacher.
Whether it is the delicate work of shaping the minds of elementary school children, or working with graduate or postgraduate students, it is always an awesome opportunity. Parents throughout Adventism are concerned about the nature, function, and uniqueness of our educational institutions. They are willing to sacrifice everything they have in order to send their sons and daughters to Seventh-day Adventist institutions because they expect to see them grow spiritually strong
This means that the greatest challenge to Adventist education is preparing students not only to become Christlike in this life, but also to be fitted for the life to come. In order to experience these things, Christ must live in the heart of every teacher, professor, and administrator. Christ must be in the center of any curriculum and must be present in the social and recreational activities of the school. Moreover, teaching quality should never be maintained by sacrificing Biblical truth.
Because of the above-mentioned responsibilities, an educator is under pressure to continually improve one’s teaching and interpersonal skills in order to have the greatest impact on the students’ learning. The main focus of Adventist education is not on acquiring head knowledge or storing information for the sake of intellectual growth, but on development of human life. Adventist educators have always believed in the multidimensional development of their students, that is, physical, mental, social and spiritual.
One of the greatest challenges in teaching ministry is the realization that on an everyday basis the teacher must face many situations, which call for a crucial-decision making approach. They range from curriculum choices to classroom management, from assessment strategies to choices of presentation. It takes lots of patience, sensitivity, spiritual discernment, sound judgment, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to manage all of these daily challenges in a considerate, insightful, and attentive manner.
In the context of our lives, the Adventist educational system has a multifunctional and focused approach to any human need. This means that it should be able to meet all fundamental educational requirements. In other words, the Seventh-day Adventist philosophy should be solidly based on the concept of holistic education, emphasizing the effective integration of faith and learning.
Finally, in order to avoid one of the greatest dangers, namely, a declining spirituality in our educational system, one must implement an educational philosophy that forms a basic core of values for any teacher, administrator, student, or classroom. If this goal has been reached, then students will be able to serve others by fully using their potential not only as exemplary citizens of their home country, but also as faithful representatives of Christ. But above all, they will be ready to spend the whole eternity with the God, who created and redeemed them.