Educators Hold Origins Workshop at Rosario

More than 30 educators delved into faith and science issues at the 2010 NPUC Teachers' Workshop on Origins, held Aug. 13–16.

Seeds for the weekend were planted some months ago at a North Pacific Union Conference education council. A principal mentioned it would be helpful if Northwest Adventist teachers had more training in how to prepare academy students to deal with earth origins. He noted not all graduating seniors go on to Adventist higher education, and many find their faith severely tested in non-believing environments. The education council voted to request WWU provide a workshop for secondary science teachers and academy administrators.

With support from the NPUC education department, Northwest teachers converged on the WWU Rosario Beach Marine Lab along Washington's Puget Sound for a weekend of seminars, labs and heartfelt discussions — all with the purpose of learning positive ways to approach the topic of origins from a solid Adventist perspective. Workshop goals were simple: To give each teacher something tangible to take back to their classrooms and to develop a better understanding and trust between them and WWU biological science professors.

The entire WWU department of biological sciences faculty led out. Bob Cushman, department chair, says the event gave them a chance to clarify their first priority in the classroom: a relationship with God above and beyond a scientific data set. "We want to provide a safe place for our students to address their personal faith along with defining a distinctive world view," he says. "We're clear about our own faith in God and His Word, but we want to help our students make that choice for themselves."

Weekend activities included plenary sessions, panel discussions, breakouts and hands-on workshops, as well as campfire vespers, beach gatherings and a church service presentation by Dave Thomas, WWU School of Theology dean.

Ginger Ketting-Weller, WWU vice president for academic administration, says, to her knowledge, this is the first such gathering of collegiate and secondary Adventist science educators specifically for this purpose.

"The presentations were excellent, with a strong spiritual emphasis," says Keith Waters, NPUC associate director of education. Craig Wiley, Gem State Adventist Academy science teacher, agrees. "We have a far greater sense of community now among our science educators," he says. "The WWU biology staff present a unified front on issues of origin that I can feel comfortable with. The time to exchange ideas clearly promoted friendship, sometimes clearing up misconceptions."

October 01, 2010 / Perspective