"The Science of True Education" was written by Raymond Moore, Paul Damazo, and Paul Robberson, and was originally printed in the September, 1981 issue of "ASI News," the official journal of the Adventist-Laymen's Services and Industries, with head quarters in the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Washington, D.C. 20012. 

Our church schools, academies and colleges are a precious treasure, a key to the survival and advance of our Church. They are labors of the love of God. To the extent that they abide His instruction, the Church will rapidly advance, but otherwise Deuteronomy 28 suggests that they rest under a curse. The problems which they face today of attendance, of morals, and of serious financial troubles are the fault of no one man, but of us all. Later we will look at some of these problems, but first let's re-examine our policies and set out to do what God tells us to do, lest we not our enemies be guilty of closing our schools.

In August of 1897, Ellen White was trying to give a fledgling church some godly and businesslike pointers on how it could pre pare for the coming of its Saviour.(1) She had already warned that conventional education, when followed by Cod's people, is a crime.(2) She identified the current kind of education as "one-sided" and called for a more "practical education."(3) Then, lest her advice be lost in her readers' preoccupation with contemporary practice, she gave her most pointed educational counsel ever: "Now, as never before, we need to understand the true science of education. If we fail to understand this, we shall never have a place in the kingdom of God."(4)

But what is this science? And why is it so eternally important? F. C. Gilbert, noted SDA minister and a Jewish scholar, was sure he knew.(5) Dr. E. A. Sutherland, beloved dean of SDA educators, also believed that he knew.(6)

Graduate dean-emeritus of the Andrews University graduate school recently expressed sorrow that he found out only late in life how right Mrs. White really was.

In one of his many lucid articles, Elder Gilbert answers the question in many a Christian's mind: How did the Jews ever miss the fulfillment of the specific Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah? Why did they look for a splendid king, when the prophets so clearly predicted that He would come as a homely pauper? Elder Gilbert shows how Israel's older leaders determined, after their Babylonian captivity, never again to dilute their God-given truths, yet with the cooperation of later Jewish scholars, Israel was imperceptibly seduced by Alexander of Macedon and his Greek professors until the precious Messianic message was so blunted with the pagan philosophies that its truth was no longer their vital, peculiar treasure. And the Messiah slipped through their outstretched arms as an ordinary carpenter's son whose pretenses were worthy only of the cross.

Dr. Sutherland showed how the Roman Church particularly the Jesuits bridged the nearly two millenniums between the Messiah's first advent and our generation, with a virtually identical blend of pagan tradition and scriptural heritage, as the Jews learned from the Greeks. There were occasionally the discerning faithful few Christians who reached out for the example of the ancient Schools of the Prophets, but they inevitably were held up to ridicule by the self-styled intellectual elite. Dr. Sutherland points out that even the Puritans who were driven from their homes by the educational system of the church were unable to fully discern the system's error and break from it. Nor has our Church ever fully made the break God commands.

Long after the late Emil Leffler was president of Broadview College, and then dean of Albion College, and still later graduate dean of Andrews University, he pored with troubled heart over the sacred educational writings, which we, like the ancient Jews, so often overlook because they are so obviously "out of date" Wrote Dr. Leffler in a rare admission by a true member of the educational aristocracy, "Fifty years ago, I was strongly influenced by the thinking of those who held that Ellen White's ideas were out dated even then. In those early years, the blueprint' was at best a nebulous and ill-defined notion to many of us. How mistaken we were" (8) Dr Leffler went on to plead for a return to the Divine plan in its fullness.

What is this plan? What is the science of true education which is so crucial to our entry to the kingdom of God? Has God in fact given us a blueprint defined by Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as a "program for action"? Some vow publicly that He has not, and suggest that what Ellen White offers in education is scattered and unorganized" So is gold in its natural habitat Yet, it is there for the ones who know its value and who will work to mine it Many SDA's and non-SDA's have little trouble finding it when they really look and work for it.

Thirty-one years ago, University of California, Berkeley, educational sociologist John Michaelis exclaimed to us his astonishment at the "beautiful educational design" offered by Ellen White, and forthwith led his visiting accrediting committee to recommend state recognition for all units of PUC's graduate program at the highest level the first in our Church's history at a time when other California state schools were losing such accreditation And ten years later, Columbia University's distinguished curriculum scholar, Ruth Stratemeyer, a Roman Catholic, accorded similar applause to the educational writings of Ellen White at Potomac University, forerunner of Andrews University.

Remember, we are identifying a "science," the science of true education, as a condition of our own sharing the kingdom of God! If we really ponder this carefully, it will expand our minds In case our minds are a bit lazy, we might turn over to Hosea 4:6 where he quotes Cod as saying, My people shall be destroyed for a lack of knowledge.'

He will reject them, He says, because they have rejected Him. Have we rejected Gods science?" Have we rejected Him? Lets look at the facts. Science is a systematic body of fact. which we find from experimenting with general laws. Is there anything more scientific than the study of Christian education as presented in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy "the law of love being the foundation of the government of God ?" "For the mind and the soul, as well as for the body, it is God's law that strength is acquired by effort."(I) "It is the law of the mind that it will narrow or expand to the dimensions of the things with which it becomes familiar."(II) "It is an important law of the mind one that should not be overlooked that when a desired object is so firmly denied as to remove all hope, the mind will soon cease to long for it and will be occupied with other pursuits. But as long as there is any hope of gaining the desired object, an effort will be made to obtain it.'(12)

Such laws point to the harmonious balance of body, mind and soul and to godliness our SDA educational philosophy and goals. They add up to the science of knowing and loving Christ, the science of redemption preparation "for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come."(13) Concentration on this science develops very bright minds in all students.(14) And God gives the specific methods to learn this science under His blessing in order to avoid many problems and to carry the message to the world, As we look at a few of these methods, ponder those you have seen and compare the results.

1, Content. The classroom focus should be on things of heaven. The liberal arts and sciences should take second place as vehicles for heaven's goals. And there should be no room at all for arts, literature, social and physical sciences or any other studies which are not true, pure, lovely, of good report, and specifically to Cod's glory.(15) Much as we realize the importance of other studies, practical skills and studies of agriculture and health should be first on our curriculum in our studies for heaven, along with the story of redemption.(16)

2. Quantity. We are not to try to ram in more content than a child's mind can take without being "almost wild".(17) Much homework is counterproductive. We are to emphasize thinking more than rote learning stressing the whys and hows at least as much as the whats, whereas and whens. A student cannot keep up with all knowledge, but he can learn how to select and to think.(18)

3. Balance. One way to control content is to be sure the student has at least as much "well-regulated physical labor" as study.

Our repeated instruction is to equalize work and study and if there is to be more of one, let it be work. And this operation is true at all levels, even at the medical school.(19) This will appear impossible to some, but God promises that He will provide efficiency to make up the difference, and indeed, those who work half-time are those who are superior in studies.(20)

4. Example. To insure this balance and the highest level of teaching teaching by example every teacher should work with his/her students several hours daily, and in no case is this to be neglected.(21) This teaches self-control, and therefore self-worth, along with responsibility, order, industry, initiative, and the equality of man so badly needed among the races today as it cannot otherwise be taught. There is no better way of teaching the graces of concern for each other. It even teaches teachers responsibility. (22)

5. Scheduling. Early to bed and early to rise should and can be the rule for efficiency and health. The time before midnight is twice as valuable for rest as the hours after.(23) And the time before breakfast is several times as productive for study as the hours after supper. These are among God's efficient methods, and are an integral part of His program of balance.

6. Grade Levels. God does not approve of rigid grade levels.(24) Students are to be given room to grow.

7. Students as Teachers, Teachers can greatly improve their teaching and save much energy by using older children to teach the younger and the stronger to teach the weaker.(25)

8. School Entrance Age. The child who waits to start school until at least 8 to 10 (some leading Stanford and University of California and University of Rochester psychologists suggest 12 to 14) will much more likely be the social, behavioral and academic leader,(26) Researchers have proven that early entrants more often are prisoners of their peers, and this peer dependency is a social cancer which wears out society and tires the Church.(27)

9. Sports and Amusements, God forbids rivalry in which one person eagerly wins at the certainty of another's Loss.'(28) Sports and amusements do more than anything else to turn the Holy Spirit away from our youth, but love of sports will pass if teachers and pastors and parents work with the students.(29) The loss of the Holy Spirit can also cause the loss of mental gains, for only the Holy Spirit can quicken the perceptive faculties,)30) And the Holy Spirit turned away means evangelistic power lost. We cannot skip the conclusion that we put far too much emphasis upon play, sports, amusements, etc.(31) God's plan here is a key to evangelism.

10. Admissions Policies. We are, to take only the youth into our schools who are committed to the standards of God who are neither indulged, lawless, pleasure-seekers, nor morally depraved, but who are worthy of the good associates that they choose who are disinclined to foolishness, who are honorable, cooperative, missionary-minded. Most students prefer a school that stands for something.(32)

Why do we have serious problems with finances, immorality and indifference to the heavenly goals of the Church? Why not claim God's promises and follow His plan all the way, and do it yet in these late days, particularly when Ellen White says it is cowardice to say that we can't.(33) We are told that those who wait until it is convenient to make necessary changes will never obey at all, and will rest under God's curse.(34) But are our schools expected to be actually like the Schools of the Prophets where teachers earn their way, working with the students? Yes, more and more so to the end of time. Mrs. White repeats this at least fifteen or twenty times throughout her writings.(35) Is later school entry truly scientific? Yes! And it is one of the fastest developing educational movements in the United States today a return to the home school among people of many religions and at all levels of society. Does God ask us to do things we cannot do? His biddings are His enablings.(36) But how about the laws school entrance laws, child labor laws, minimum wage laws, etc.? We are told to do what God says without regard to human traditions or jurisdiction.(37)

Are God's solutions too simple for us? Is it unreasonable, whenever possible, to keep our children with us in the home, shielded from the social contagion of the schools until their values are established? Is it unreasonable to expect students to work with out wages if practical work is the more important part of their education than the academics and if the work results in the reduction of their educational costs? Many churches, from Presbyterians to Pentecostals, and even Humanists as well as SDA's are following these precepts today successfully at all levels and in all states, and are bringing out better children and sharply cutting educational costs, If we do this, bringing all involved into the planning, including students and teachers, God guarantees success.(38)

Some problems. Why is a minor fraction of our youth in our schools, when all of them should be there?(39) Why do they question teachers' religious sincerity, personal interest, friendship, Do school programs provide for this? Recent observations, including studies reported in the Adventist REVIEW and by Andrews University scholars, etc. reveal, for example, that

1, SDA academy youth fall below national high school averages in ability to make sound, self-directed decisions on moral values. In one major conference, the SDA students in public high schools were found to have higher moral standards than those who were in SDA academies, except for one academy which had a fairly sound work-study program.

2. College youth entering the SDA theological seminary in September, 1980, were administered the IPAT 16 PF (Personality Factors) Test by psychologist Elden Chalmers and averaged slightly above eight on a scale in which one (1) stood for decisive maleness and ten, indecisive effeminacy. Dr, Chalmers notes that IPAT prescribes as therapy for such indecision and lack of maleness, coarse manual labor!

3. Parents see less distinction between the values of SDA schools and of other institutions.

4. SDA enrollments are declining while other Protestant Evangelical schools flourish, generally speaking.

5. SDA school costs soar while many other church schools are holding the line.

6. We are hesitant to declare our educational principles when faced by the law, while others (Amish, etc.) hold steady and win recognition for their beliefs.(40)

7. Disrespect and rebellion is on the increase at all levels, and at some schools, vandalism and violence.

8. Many Adventist homes and their children are unnecessarily being weakened mentally, socially, physically and spiritually by institutionalizing little children before they are ready, and those who must find care for their children are submitting to structured programs which deny the freedom that God designs for little ones.(41)

9. The question is seriously raised as to whether or not our admissions standards examine the character and commitment of our children as carefully as their academic performance,(42)

10.It is difficult to find schools at any level in which teachers really take students with them several hours daily into well-regulated programs of manual labor.(43)

11.We build big, knowing that large schools cannot easily follow God's plan, and expect the Church to cover heavy losses,

How could the Jews have possibly missed the Messiah? How could we? Could it be that now is the time to study this matter without feeling bound by present practice, and to spend more of our time and money in carrying out God's plan and less on facilities which accommodate the heritage of the Romans and the Greeks? Wouldnt it be great   and businesslike to experiment with the science of true education? And to enter the Kingdom?

"Now, as never before, we need to understand the true science of education. If we fail to understand this, we shall never have a place in the kingdom of God."

One way to control content is to be sure the student has at least as much "well-regulated physical labor" as study. Our repeated instruction is to equalize work and study and if there is to be more of one, let it be work.

. . .every teacher should work with his/her students several hours daily and in no case is this to be neglected. This teaches self-control, and therefore self-worth, along with responsibility, order, industry, initiative...

Much as we realize the importance of other studies, practical skills and studies of agriculture and health should be first on our curriculum in our studies for heaven, along with the story of redemption.

Parents see less distinction between the values of SDA schools and of other institutions.

. . .We are to take only the youth into our schools who are committed to the standards of God who are neither indulged, lawless, pleasure seekers, nor morally depraved,...

Wouldnt it be great and businesslike to experiment with the science of true education? And to enter the Kingdom?


The following are some of the quotations referred to in the above study.

1.CONTENT "Our ideas of education take too narrow and too low a range. There is need of a broader scope, a higher aim. True education means more than the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world, and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come."   Education, page 13:1.

2.QUANTITY   "Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator, individuality, power to think and to do. The men in whom this power is developed are the men who bear responsibilities, who are leaders in enterprise, and who influence character. It is the work of true education to develop this power; to train the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men's thought. Instead of confining their study to that which men have said or written, let students be directed to the sources of truth, to the vast fields opened for research in nature and revelation. Let them contemplate the great facts of duty and destiny, and the mind will expand and strengthen. Instead of educated weaklings, institutions of learning may send forth men strong to think and to act, men who are masters and not slaves of circumstances, men who possess breadth of mind, clearness of thought, and the courage of their convictions."   Education, pages 17:2-18:0.

"Some students put their whole being into their studies, and concentrate their mind upon the object of obtaining an education. They work the brain, but allow the physical powers to remain in active. The brain is overworked, and the muscles become weak because they are not exercised. When these students graduate, It is evident that they have obtained their education at the expense of life. They have studied day and night, year after year, keeping their minds continually upon the stretch, while they have failed to sufficiently exercise their muscles. They sacrifice all for a knowledge of the sciences, and pass to their graves."   Fundamentals of Christian Education, page 34:2.

3.BALANCE "We can do much, even in these last days, to correct the existing evils in the education of youth. And because time is short, we should be in earnest and work zealously to give the young that education which is consistent with our faith We are reformers. We desire that our children should study to the best advantage. In order to do this, employment should be given them which will call the muscles into exercise. Daily, systematic labor should constitute a part of the education of the youth, even at this late period. Much can now be gained by connecting labor with schools. In following this plan the students will realize elasticity of spirit and vigor of thought, and will be able to accomplish more mental labor in a given time than they could be study alone. And they can leave school with their constitutions unimpaired and with strength and courage to persevere in any position in which the providence of God may place them."   Testimonies, Volume 3, pages 158:3-159:0.

4.EXAMPLE "Our teachers should not think that their work ends with giving instructions from books. Several hours each day should be devoted to working with the students in some line of manual training. In no case should this be neglected" Counsels to Parents and Teachers, page 211:1.

"The teachers will find it greatly to their advantage to take hold disinterestedly with the students in manual labor showing them how to work. By cooperating with the youth in this practical way.


1. Christian Educator, August 1897.

2. FF97

3. Christian Educator, Op. cit.

4. Ibid.

5. F. C. Gilbert, "Why the Jews Rejected Jesus as the Messiah"

6. E. A. Sutherland, Studies in Christian Education, The Rural Press, Madison College, TN, 1972.

7. Emil Leffler, Letter to R. S. Moore, June 1, 1975.

8. Ibid.

9. PP34, SDG 18.

10. ED123.

11. CT460, FE127, cf PP 5.

12. CG284.

13. ED13, FE 543.

14. COL 125, 335, CT 452, SD 322, ML 24,262.

15. Phil. 4:8, I Cor. 10:31, ED 13.

16. CT 294-99, 532-34, FE 38-44.

17. FE34,40,42.

18. ED 17.

19. FE 41, 146, 321-23, 7T 267, AH 508, MM 81.

20. FE 44,31 159,6T 180.

21. CT 211, 208, FE 325.

22. 6T 179, CT 203.

23. MS 85, 1888; CT 297.

24. CT 177, MH 402.

25. ED 285-86, CT 200, 481, 553, MH 402.

26. ED 208, CT 29, FE 21,31137, AH 471.

27. AH 468,471.

28. Matt. 7:12, Rom. 12:10.

29. FE 4O, 220-225, 290, 512,CT 312, FE 325

30. SD 33.

31. CT 3O8-309, 312, FE 290, 512.

32. ST 85, 186, FE 55, 246-51, 302, 41 649, CT 225, 264-5, 553.

33. 6T 178, Deut. 28:1-14.

34. PP 290, Deut. 28: 15-68.

35. FE 489, 184, 512, CT 208, 353, etc.

36.COL 333.

37. Acts 5:29, 6BC 1056.

38. 6T 179.

39. CC 332, Adventist Review, December 7, 1978.

40. 6BC 1056.

41. FE 21, ED 208, CT 79, etc.

42. CT 98-100, 61 206.

43. CT 211, MM 75-81.