Photo: Pexels
Photo: Pexels

Adventist Education: Curriculum Emphasis

Our curriculum emphasises more than just learning of content.

Curriculum October 12, 2017

I was sitting in the office of the Deputy Prime Minister in a Pacific country. He commented that he really valued what Adventist education provided for his country. While we followed the state-set curriculum, and our students sat the country-wide exams, there was something distinctly different about our students. He noted that our students tended to be more balanced in their view of life. Most had a stronger work ethic and left school ready to contribute as reliable citizens. In that same country, I was told that 200 people applied for a position at a Post Office. During his interview, an applicant mentioned he had attended an Adventist school. The manager simply said, “The job is yours,” and cancelled all other interviews. The manager was sure that the student’s work ethic would be good, and that he would be an honest employee.

I have often wondered about that discussion. Why does Adventist education enjoy such a positive reputation? All schools follow some kind of curriculum. All schools are preparing their students for life after school. All schools have dedicated teachers who want the best for their students.

The reason seems to be the worldview that Adventist education provides. We want our students to view the world from an eternal perspective. We want our students to see all learning is connected to God’s desire to include them in His family. We value each student, value diversity, and value the unique gifts and contribution every student brings.

Adventist education presents the required curriculum permeated with the Divine. We cover curriculum, but give it a Christian context. We prepare our students for required assessments and content, but provide a Christian ethos with it. Science classes may present evolution as part of state-required curriculum, but also present the biblical perspective of God as loving Creator.

Our curriculum emphasises more than just learning of content. Because we believe in a God who created beauty and aesthetics, we also encourage the creative arts, so music and art play an important part on an Adventist school. We also include practical subjects such as industrial arts, home economics, and even agriculture if possible.

Adventist education does not necessarily see big as better. While there are large Adventist schools, there are many smaller schools with multi-grade classrooms. The CognitiveGenesis study of Adventist schools in the United States (2006-2009) found that students in smaller schools achieve as well as those in larger schools, and that students do better the longer they attend Adventist schools.

Why did these Pacific island students enjoy such a positive reputation? Their Adventist curriculum included more than book learning. It prepared them for positive living both in this world and through eternity. It prepared them to be good citizens with a solid work ethic and love for life-long learning. But most of all, the holistic curriculum connected students with a loving God who is the reason for the purpose and positive attitude they exude in their personal life journey.

This article is the fifth in a series of ten articles on the unique characteristics of Adventist education. Another article in the series will be published every other Thursday. To view all articles in this series, along with other articles by this author, click here: Articles by David McClintock.

Note: Article written and posted in Australian English.


David McClintock has served as a Bible teacher for most of his professional life. He has also been principal of six schools and a Conference and Union Education Director. He has twice returned full time to the High School Bible classroom from administration and has stepped back from being the Associate Education Director at the South Pacific Division when he was invited to be the principal at Avondale School, Australia, as school land is what he enjoys. He most enjoys engaging learners in knowing, loving and serving God. In July 2019, he was appointed the SPD Education Director.

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