(Written in response to a request that I submit my philosophy on Adventist education to a publication. As a proponent of unschooling, homeschooling, private schooling, public schooling, and generally learning in general, I am less inclined to evangelize for a particular mode of learning than to look for positive aspects of each. But I was asked specifically about SDA education, so here it is.) :)
"Whether I went to school or not, I would always study."
This concept (and quote from masterful musician RZA) is foundational to me. I spent a large chunk of my childhood building forts in the forests, absorbing books in public libraries, and experiencing formal education via homeschooling and our local Adventist school. The rest of my (formal) learning spanned public high school, Adventist academy, Adventist college, public university for grad school and teaching, and finally, the wonderful institution of Portland Adventist Academy, where I have taught two classes for the last seven years.
If a student can study and learn anywhere and anytime in this instant, all-access age of YouTube, Khan Academy, and Wikipedia, what is the value, first of all, in formal education, and second of all, specifically in Adventist education?
Complicated answer to both. But my simple response to the first is: training is not teaching. Learning a process for how to do something is important, and should be learnable for anyone. But learning why it's important, and the context and relevance of those skills in life settings...that is the role of a teacher: to guide, to lead, to engage, to create possibilities, to build empathy, and to learn alongside.
You don't learn those things from a computer or a passive learning system.
The second: Adventist education is something that builds roots. Often the word "foundation" is used to describe educational building blocks. But I like "roots." Foundations can crack and crumble. But a root system will keep getting stronger...when it's nourished with the proper ingredients. It will fan out; digging into the soil and enriching the entire surrounding ecosystem as it grows and flourishes, learning to be flexible, adaptable, and STRONG with purpose and community. That's what Adventist education incubates: the nourishing of individual root systems within an inclusive, supportive, purpose-driven setting. These root systems - each student - will grow as part of an ecosystem for building leaders, thinkers, and innovators who will someday take their skill sets into the world; disparate and unique individuals with strong root systems, well-prepared to create, lead, innovate, and fill the world with a love of God and others.
That's what makes Adventist education special.