Proof in the Pudding
I started my church school experience in a one-room school in the basement of the Jamestown Church in North Dakota—twenty-one kids representing six of the eight grades available. And I don't feel one bit persecuted. I, "Maxie Carle" Torkelsen, loved school and learned a lot that first-grade year. Mrs. Esther Rau probably didn't call it that, but it was individualized learning, progress-at-your-own-rate at its best. She was a pioneer. And I grew up to be valedictorian of my academy senior class and graduated cum laude from college—so much for the disadvantages of small one-room church schools.
And now what we all sort of intuitively knew or at least hoped, has been demonstrated through CognitiveGenesis, a scientifically designed study. Adventist education does its job very well. In fact, the more years in an Adventist school, the "smarter" you get. It doesn't matter if it's a one-room school or a single-grade classroom in a large school—the outcomes are almost the same—off the charts. You'll read more about that in this issue's feature.
The results are dramatic, but that in itself is not the genius of Adventist education. It's a wonderful bonus for what really makes our schools special. It's as if God is saying, "If you put first things first, I'll add the other as well."
So what comes first—even before cognitive excellence? Let me take you back to Jamestown. I didn't just learn to read, write, spell and do arithmetic. I sat on Mrs. Rau's lap once in a while, and she hugged me and told me Jesus loved me and God had a special plan for my life. And sure enough, "Maxie Carle" grew up and found all the things Mrs. Rau told me to be true. The value of Adventist education was indeed proved in the pudding.
My own experience confirms Ellen White's wise counsel about our teachers partnering with the Holy Spirit in Adventist education. "Every teacher," she said, "should know and welcome this heavenly guest. If the teachers will open their own hearts to receive the Spirit, they will be prepared to co-operate with it in working for their students; and when it is given free course, it will effect wonderful transformations. It will work in each heart, correcting selfishness, molding and refining the character, and bringing even the thoughts into captivity to Christ."1
I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit, and for teachers like Mrs. Rau who make Adventist education worth the cost with eternal results.
1. Ellen G. White, Special Testimonies on Education, p. 51.
“In fact, the more years in an Adventist school, the ‘smarter’ you get.”