Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Shirley A. Freed

Second Advisor

James A. Tucker

Third Advisor

George H. Akers


Purpose. The purpose of this study was threefold: to review current, education-relevant brain research; to review the educational writings of Ellen G. White for major emerging themes/principles; and to compare these findings for similarities and differences.

Method and Results. Using an inductive process, the synthesis and comparison revealed 15 themes from brain research and 12 principles from White's writings from the middle 1800s and early 1900s.

Comparison of the two lists revealed alignment on eight themes/principles, nonalignment on three themes/principles, and partial-alignment on seven themes/principles.

Aligned themes/principles included: body and mind function as one; exercise and movement are vital to cognition; health habits profoundly affect learning; emotions/neurochemistry unite body and mind; social influences structure cognition; plasticity and enrichment contribute to braingrowth/change; stages of development provide optimal times for cognitive patterning; individualism typifies brain function.

Themes/principles not aligned included: the Bible is foundational for education; knowledge of God establishes contact with the source of all knowledge; and redemption and restoration of the image of God in humanity are the goals of education.

Conclusions. White defines true education as the harmonious relationship between physical, mental, and spiritual powers. Brain educators also draw attention to this three-faceted relationship; however, brain science tends to deal with this concept in a less integrated way than does White, though research on emotion appears to be promoting a more holistic attitude.

White suggests education is potentiated when this harmonious triad is empowered by God. Brainscience says little about an outside vital power, though altruism is sometimes discussed in the context of new findings on the role of emotional/social functions.

Based on the comparisons/differences observed, this study postulates that this triad relationship is a fractal-like pattern that is replicated and operant in brain structure and function, educational practice, and other life processes.

Subject Area

Brain research, Child development

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