The influence of Ellen White upon the development of the Seventh-day Adventist school system in Australia, 1891-1900

The Seventh-day Adventist church operates an extensive system of educational institutions not only in Australia but throughout the world. This thesis examines the contribution made by one of its early leaders towards the establishment and operation of the school system conducted by the Church in Australia.

The denomination arose in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century and believes that it was called into existence to proclaim the imminent return of Christ and to prepare the world for that event. Mrs Ellen Gould White (1827-1915), a founding member of the Church, came to Australia from the United States in 1891, six years after the Church was first established here. She had begun to publish articles about education in 1872 after which she was associated with the founding of several colleges in America.

Son after her arrival here she called for the establishment of a school where workers for the different departments of the Church could be educated. A school in Melbourne was opened in 1892 and continued successfully until 1894.

An important feature of her philosophy of education was that the school should be located in a rural setting and thus she urged the administration of the Church to select a site away from the large cities of the colonies. In response to this counsel and to the “blueprint” that she outlined for the conduct of this institution, the Avondale School for Christian Workers was opened in Cooranbong, NSW in 1897.

In the latter half of the 1890’s Ellen White wrote more extensively on the subject of Christian education than she had at any other time in her life. This school provided her for the first time with the opportunity of being closely connected with the administration, staff and students of a school in each stage of it spanning and operation, and this during this time she greatly expanded her educational philosophy, clarifying its goals, methods and its distinguishing features. The Avondale School came the closest to fulfilling her "blueprint" than did any other school operated by the Church and was set forth as the pattern school throughout the world.

During the latter half of the 1890's Ellen White also laid down the foundation for the Church's educational edifice by calling for elementary schools to be connected with churches, with the result that the number of church-operated elementary schools greatly increased overseas, and in Australia the first such school was opened in 1900 several months before her departure.

Her educational influence and ideas are worthy of the attention of the historian of Australian education, and indeed of education generally for a variety of reasons. She played a significant part in introducing a new current into the Australian educational pattern -.the Air, American influence. She emphasised in a broader context than had been the case previously the concept of a merger of manual and mental education for all students; she reinforced the stream of educational thought which emphasises the all-round education of the individual in his physical, mental and spiritual development. Upon Seventh-day Adventist education in Australia and also in the world at large she exerted an influence that was both profound and lasting and that was felt in every aspect of the organization and operation of education within the Church.

She saw all true education as an unfolding process of enlightenment by God that would lead the student to both know and love God, thus transforming his character and preparing him "for the joy of service in this world and for the wider joy of service in the world to come."

Though many of the details of her philosophy were not new, the constellation was new and the overall emphasis was unique. In seeking to understand the nature and effects of her influence it will be these details and this constellation and emphasis with which will be concerned.

Licence Type:
Publication Date:
Allan G Lindsay
Order Information:
Copy available from Avondale College-[371.0716794 L64] E.G. White Centre [371.0716794 L64]
Resource Type:
Unpublished Plans & Papers
Resource Objective:
Religious Origin:
Seventh-day Adventist