The Adventist Technical Institute: A Different, Yet Not So Different, Kind of Adventist Academy

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Published:
August 20, 2019

A proposal to establish a grades 9-13 Adventist Technical Institute follows. But first, a justification and rationale.

Since its inception from long-ago Battle Creek days, the Adventist educational system has been motivated by a balanced, holistic educational philosophy. For growth in wholeness and balance in social maturity, males and females are educated, not in separate schools, but co-educationally, together, on the same campus and with the same curricular opportunities. For wholeness and balance in intellectual growth and maturity, the academic curricular experience is to be conjoined with experiences in practical curriculum. The theoretical and abstract balanced and harmonized with the pragmatic and concrete and vice versa. Idealism joined with real-world functional. Such a varied and trained education would produce balanced, healthy, and productive individual parishioners and a strong and versatile denominational membership enabling the church to more ably fulfill its mission.

Despite the efforts of courageous, dedicated, and risk-taking teachers, principals, and school boards, success in pursuit of this holistic goal has been intermittent, patchy, and discontinuous with some, but rarely complete, success. Especially has this irregular experience been the circumstance in regards to the implementation of Industrial Technology Education curriculums (Industrial Arts) — the most commonly recognized and utilized curricular pathway to the “practical” component of this holistic educational philosophy.

Today, with the exception of Loma Linda Academy’s TIE program1 and perhaps one or two other scattered technical programs with which this author may not be familiar, a very few Adventist schools are valiantly trying to offer perhaps an auto mechanics class, or other “shop type” class, in hopes of keeping this holistic education concept alive on their campus. This basic technical curriculum component of the “practical” part of the holistic educational experience has all but disappeared in Adventist academies, colleges, and universities, and the loss of these technical curriculums is often lamented by church members and educators in anecdotal conversations and discussions about problems in Adventist Education.

At one point in our educational history we rationalized that student employment at Campus Maintenance, the School Laundry, School Dairy, the Campus Store and Bakery, or a school furniture manufacturing plant, would meet these holistic philosophical objectives. These were worthy and sincere efforts considering the times and circumstances schools faced during those days but the reality is that the milking of cows alone does not train one in the essentials of agriculture nor does the mere baking of bread impart an understanding of a balanced and nutritional diet.

My own on-campus employment reflected this non-trained experience. During my two years of campus employment at two separate denominationally-related cabinet and wood furniture manufacturing plants, never once did I reference a technical plan required for the construction of the products I was making, let alone receive instruction in the reading of such plans. Nor was training and instruction provided in the standard and established industrial techniques of boring common holes or how to safely saw a board by hand or under power, etc. Neither was I educated in the various types of wood finishes (varnishes, lacquers, polyurethanes), their appropriate best usages, nor the various appropriate techniques for their proper application. Each of these bodies of understanding are recognized by wood products manufacturers as being the fundamental basics and essential knowledge and skills required in the manipulation of any wood-based materials into needed and useful manmade products. Although the student’s exposure to these campus industries’ employment opportunities may have instilled the ever mentioned and hoped for “development of a good work ethic,” rarely did the on-campus work experience provide formal instruction and practice in the art and science of the particular craft or industry involved.

There are a variety of complications that have made it difficult for these valiant educators to develop justifiable and continuous technology/technical curriculums at our schools. The most significant hurdle for these schools is a lack of a consistently sufficient number of technically prone students enrolled at their school for a school to justify the commitment of necessary material and personnel resources required to offer quality and sustainable technical programs. These technically oriented students do exist at these schools, just not in the quantities needed at their schools to justify the commitment of resources to offer the programs. “Should the school go to the expense to set up a program in mechanics this year,” a principal will ask, “if we are not sure we will have enough interested students to offer the program next year, or the next?”

Additionally, this family of technical curriculums is so vast and varied in scope and content that a typical Adventist academy cannot offer exposure and training in all of these separate fundamental technical curriculums. How can the average academy provide substantial curriculum for such a diverse field of study (construction, manufacturing, mechanics, horticulture, electronics, graphics, etc.) with many of these technologies requiring their own unique and very diverse body of knowledge and skills. And if a complete spectrum of technical curriculum cannot be offered, committed principals and school boards ask, “Which one curriculum shall we offer? If we can justify the investment in electronics curriculum this year, what about the nine students interested in construction, the ten in horticulture, the three in graphics and printing technology? Why are these other technically-inclined students left out because we could only afford to provide the one curriculum in electronics?”

The real problem we face then, is not that there are not enough students interested in strong technically-based curriculums. There are interested students. The 400 students that went through Loma Linda Academy’s TIE program proved that. Students interested in these technical educational experiences and technical career preparations exist — and they exist at all Adventist academies and colleges. There are just not enough of them, at their school, to warrant the dedication of appropriate educational resources to combine these technically-based programs with their strong academic curriculum. If these students, now spread thinly across the NAD educational landscape, could be given the opportunity to collect at one appropriate educational site, the assemblage of the necessary resources, both material and personnel, could be justified and, at long last, we could finally combine strong, predictably continuous technically-based curriculums with a strong academic program that these kids desire and Adventist teachers, principals, and school boards have struggled individually many years to provide.

And why an Academy? Why not wait until after high school? Skill, instinct, intimate familiarity with these technical crafts is as essential as is the skill, instincts, and intimate familiarity with the craft of violin playing. Much of the deeper understandings of my particular technical crafts, and which I was able to pass on to my students, began in “shop” classrooms as early as my 8th grade year. One does not wait until one is graduated from high school until one is exposed to the skills and art of his technical craft and expect to find complete fulfillment in the practice of his craft, any more than one should wait until the age of 18 years to be exposed to the violin and expect to find complete fulfillment in the skills and art of that craft.

Therefore, it would seem the solution is simple: establish at least one academy in North America where students, interested and committed to this kind of conjoined academic/technically-based education, can be permitted to gather themselves together in sufficient numbers to justify the commitment of appropriate resources and qualified teaching staff to participate in this valuable educational experience. These students exist now! But they are scattered. Let them come together so this unique holistic educational experience can be theirs. So that their God-given talents, technical instincts, and unique technical savvy can be trained and educated for the benefit of their families, community, and church. 

To this end the following proposal is made:

Adventist Technology Institute Proposal

Whereas ~ Adventist students desiring in-depth curricular experiences in technology/technical-based curriculum exist in Adventist schools, but lack sufficient numbers at their schools to justify the commitment of appropriate educational resources at those schools,

Whereas ~ Experiences in technical curriculum are recognized as an excellent preparation for students pursuing a variety of professional careers including, but not limited to, Medicine, Law, Dentistry, Business, Architecture, Engineering, Education, Theology, etc., 

Whereas ~ Formal training in direct technology-based careers, such as electronics, manufacturing, construction, and others, enhance a graduate’s ability to command higher earnings, compete more successfully in a highly competitive workplace, and experience enriched potential for positions of leadership and management in those careers,

Whereas ~ Well-trained and talented graduates pursuing careers in specific technical arenas would possess greater opportunities for influence and witnessing within his/her local community, be enabled to provide greater financial contributions to their church, and, most importantly, because of that heightened economic income, enjoy their family’s more definitive and consistent participation in the denominational educational system, 

It is therefore ~ Appropriate to propose the establishment of at least one technology/technical-based high school in the North American Division where interested students can gather from across North America to receive an enriched education in an integrated Academic/Technology curriculum.

Distinguishing Characteristics of an Adventist Technology Institute

MISSION

1. Utilizing a strong technical experience, the proposed Adventist Technology Institute will graduate students with potential for success and eminence in any career path of their choice, technologically-oriented or otherwise. Although collecting and offering to students from across North America a strong technological experience, the proposed institution is not a classic vocational school. Graduates from this school will employ a strong academic/technical education in preparation to pursue:

Typical Professional Careers:

Medicine, Dentistry, Law, Ministry, Business, Education, Church Missions, others.

Professional Technical Careers:

Architecture, Engineering, others.

Direct School-to-Work Careers:

Electronics, Construction, Graphics/Printing, Automotive/Aviation Mechanics, Commercial Art, Nursery, Landscape, others.

CURRICULUM

2. All students will participate in both a technology curriculum, listed below, as well as a college prep curriculum.

Electronics Technology

Horticultural Technology

Construction Technology

Graphics/Printing Technology

Manufacturing Technology

Transportation Technology

Design Technology

Materials Science Technology

3. First year students will sample several of the technology curriculums offered, selecting one curriculum at the end of the freshman year in which to concentrate for the remaining three years.

4. The academic and technology curriculums are “joined at the hip" for all students. All students participate in both the academic and the technology curriculums.

5. Students applying for admission will be tested for their potential for success at this school utilizing common career guidance evaluation instruments.

SCHOOL SIZE

6. Accepted freshmen will be placed evenly among the eight technologies, 20 students per technology, yielding a potential freshman class of 160 students. (8 technologies x 20 students = 160 freshmen students) (3.2 new freshmen per state each year)

7. The technology curriculum, as well as the academic curriculum, is successive and builds upon knowledge from previous years. Although new students could be accepted as late as the beginning of the sophomore year, because of the successive nature of the three year technology concentration no new students will enter the school after the beginning of the sophomore year.

8. Consequently a student attrition rate of 20% is predicted over the life of four years, yielding an estimated operating school enrollment of 512 students.

9. Although the school could be structured to operate with a smaller student body, a student body of five hundred is believed to provide greater opportunity for sound financial efficiency, depth of curricular instruction, enriched social experiences, and opportunity for greater extra-curricular offerings.

10. Recognizing that most local conference and unions cannot alone supply sufficient numbers of interested students and necessary resources for a school of this nature, this school is designed to serve students collected from a wide geographic area including at least half, if not all, of North America.

11. Graduating students would pursue further education in colleges and universities, seek direct employment within the work force, or elect to continue at the school for a fifth year and receive an associate’s degree. Conceivably, parts of the institute would be accredited as a college.

SCHOOL LOCATION

12. An appropriate campus site is considered critical to the success of the school. Locating at an existing educational site is considered preferable to establishing the school at a previously undeveloped site and an appropriate site should contain the features outlined below.

a. Sufficient campus spaciousness so as to eventually accommodate 450 to 550 students.

b. Reasonable proximity to high-tech industrial centers to provide:

i. ready access to required industrial materials for course work and lab materials

ii. quality field trip experiences

iii. networking with local industry for advisement and other assistance

c. Quasi agricultural center.

d. Suitable proximity to significant emergency medical services.

e. Reasonable and varied recreational opportunities.

f. Suitably located for the profitable establishment of major on-campus industries.

g. Sufficient acreage so as to accommodate certain technology and horticultural curriculums.

h. Sufficient access to appropriate sources of water, electricity, natural gas, and other essential operational resources.

i. Located within 45-60 minutes of easily-accessed air and other major transportation facilities.

j. Centrally-located to the primary constituency to which it serves.

FINANCIAL

13. Initial projections indicate an annual operating cost approximating $22,000 per student, if boarding.

Operating expenses could be funded from 1) tuition; 2) optional conference or union subsidy, 3) student employment and gifts. Capital expenses would be in addition to these resources.

14. The unique educational service this school offers to interested students indicates that technically-oriented Adventist parents, organizations, and businesses may identify with unique educational objectives of the school and be inspired to assist in capital and other fiscal efforts.

Academic Curriculum

Meets most all University of California entrance requirements.

9th Grade

Algebra I or Geometry or Algebra II

English

Physical Science

Religion

World History

P.E./Health

Technology Survey

10th Grade

Geometry or Algebra II or Pre-Calculus

English

Religion

Biology

Foreign Language

Fine Art

P.E.

Technology

11th Grade

Algebra II/ Trig or Pre-Calculus

English

Chemistry or Honors Chemistry

U.S. History 

Foreign Language 

Religion

Technology

12th Grade

English

Algebra II/Trig or Calculus or Pre-Calculus 

Religion

Physics or Honors Physics

U.S. Government/Economics

Technology

Timeline

For an Experimental Trial Phase of the Tech Institute

1. Establish authorization from NAD Educators and leadership to initiate a trial of the proposed Tech Institute concept. If NAD education leadership believed it was reasonable and safe to embark upon the trial then the project would proceed.

2. Establish a website which could be easily referenced to answer questions (and stimulate curiosity and enthusiasm) about the Tech Institute concept and its experimental trial.

3. Establish an advisory board composed of Technology Educators and other essential and interested parties.

4. Formally contact local Union and Conference educators about the experimental trial project in hopes of finding one or more schools interested in adapting to the Tech Institute format.

5. Publish “One-Column-Inch” announcements placed in the eight NAD Union Conference monthly papers2 announcing the NAD Education approved Tech Institute Trial Experiment and directing interested readers to the more complete Tech Institute descriptive website. (About $2,000 total cost for three monthly issues postings.) 

6. Locate a school interested in becoming the Tech Institute and willing to enter into the experimental trial phase.

7. Financial Guarantors: A search for financial guarantors is initiated. Financial guarantors will only provide funds to cover costs to the school if the project failed. Financial success for the experiment would be planned but should insufficient tuition and other income not be obtained to cover the costs of the experiment, that loss would be covered by the financial guarantors. The financial guarantors’ contributions would be proportionally required only should all, or a portion, of the experiment fail.

8. Initiate a search for a Technology Education teacher interested in teaching in the trial phase for Tech Institute experiment.

9. General announcement of the actual commencement of the Tech Institute Trial Experiment across the NAD for the primary purpose of recruiting 60 interested students. (20 students for each of the three initial survey technology curriculums to be offered.)

10. If sufficient students manifest interest in participating in the tech institute format the trial experiment would begin.

11. If 60 students enrolled, the trial would be considered a success and continuing development of the Tech Institute would begin posthaste.

 

Notes & References:

1. The Tie Program: Loma Linda Academy’s Educational Phenomenon; Spectrum website, August 11, 2018: https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2018/08/11/tie-program-loma-linda-academy%25E2%2580%2599s-educational-phenomenon

2. The Adventist Review has 30,000 subscribers. In most unions, every church member receives the union’s monthly paper enabling the likelihood of greatest denominational membership coverage regarding the Tech Institute project. (The Pacific Union Recorder has a circulation of 76,000 homes.)

 

Jay Linthicum taught Technology/Industrial Education in Adventist academies in Nebraska and California for 41 years. Newly retired, he has followed his granddaughters to a place of which he had not heard of previously — northern Idaho.

Image credit: SpectrumMagazine.org

 

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