In the 21st century Adventist school classroom environment, Adventist school instructors can be challenged with the learning of many students who confront our status quo. Such students include those of a secular mind, those of poor technical, numeracy and literacy skills, the poor and needy students, the morally depraved students, and low academic performers. They experience difficulty in coping with the Adventist school culture and the academic expectations of parents and instructors. Often, we as Adventist instructors are ambivalent about what teaching and learning strategies and methods are appropriate to assimilate these students.
As Adventist instructors, our primary obligation is first to maintain a strong relationship with God and, by our influence, facilitate and lead such needy students to the true source of knowledge. “It should rather be our aim to gain knowledge and wisdom that we may become better Christians, and be prepared for greater usefulness, rendering more faithful service to our Creator, and by our example and influence leading others [or these students] also to glorify God. Here is something real, something tangible—not only words but deeds. Not only the affection of the heart, but the service of the life, must be devoted to our maker.” CT 49.2. The need for practical Christ-like character changes made in our lives can influence such students.
At the next stage, an awareness of such students’ needs should motivate Adventist school instructors, who as collaborators with the Master Teacher, Jesus, can create and facilitate opportunities for engaging with such students. He extended an open invitation to gather and influence the young for the kingdom. In Luke 18:16 “…Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’” The role of an Adventist instructor is “to bring man [or these students] back into harmony with God, so to elevate and ennoble his [or the student’s] moral nature that he [or she] may again reflect the image of the Creator, is the great purpose of all the education and discipline of life. So important was this work that the Saviour left the courts of heaven and came in person to this earth, that He might teach men how to obtain a fitness for the higher life.” CT49.3
In our engagement with such special students, we can involve their Christian classmates in the process of facilitating their assimilation. In my 21 years of teaching geography at the Pacific Adventist University, I have often been challenged about what would be the best Christian inclusion strategy for the learning of this special group of students. A few years ago, I was impressed to plan for group assessments that created opportunities in which both the academically strong and weak, and secular and religious minded students could mutually work together. During the past three years, I have witnessed the academic improvements of the weak and the positive impact and influence of Christian young people over their secular-minded peers.