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New School Year, Seven Reasons Why Mormons Love Learning

After a long hot summer, school has finally started. Cooler weather is good, but school is the greater good. Education lies close to the hearts of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and resonates with many of the other values they hold dear. Here are seven reasons why Mormons love learning.

1. Education helps us to become more like our Father in Heaven.

As children of God, the objective of all people is to continuously strive to become like Him, and Mormons see education as a vital part of this striving. Latter-day Saints affirm that God is all-knowing, and are taught that “the glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.”[1] Life is not only a time of testing but also a school to develop understanding through both study and experience.[2] The development of a refined, enlightened, and godly character is its ultimate end.[3]

2. Our education is not just for this life. 

Education is one of life’s preeminent purposes and has enduring eternal value that transcends death.[4]  For Latter-day Saints, education is a principle that spans eternity. Mormon scripture teaches that “whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life” will follow us in the hereafter (Doctrine and Covenants 130:18). Latter-day Saints see in education a perpetual enterprise; they anticipate and hope for a long course of learning that extends indefinitely into the future.

3. Education is a divine commandment and God helps us to learn.

Latter-day Saints believe that because of its immense and lasting value, God has made education a divine commandment for which His children are responsible.[5] Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon echo this commandment with invitations to seek, “knock,” and ask for knowledge. Church founder Joseph Smith taught that “no man is saved faster than he gets knowledge,” and that “no man can be saved in ignorance.”[6]Mormons also affirm that God is actively involved in the education of His children. He enlightens the mind; He promises that efforts to learn will be recognized and met with His wise dispensations of knowledge.[7]

4. Education improves the whole person, both mind and spirit.

Education is not exclusively intellectual; rather, Latter-day Saints seek learning “by study and also by faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118). In part, this means that Mormons recognize a kind of learning that incorporates both intellect and spiritual insight.[8] Moreover, Latter-day Saints affirm that faith and reason are not fundamentally hostile to each other.[9]

5. Education helps us have a richer, fuller life.

Brigham Young explained that “education is the power to think clearly, to act well in the world’s work, and to appreciate life.”[10] Mormons value the life of the mind and the richness that education adds to life experience. Knowledge is personally empowering.

6. Education results in better living conditions for ourselves and a greater ability to help others.

Learning ought to have practical value; it should improve one’s ability to make social contributions, to be financially self-reliant, and generally to “act well in the world’s work.”[11]  Church President Thomas S. Monson has encouraged both men and women to pursue education in order to participate as needed in a competitive economic world.[12] Education also enables those who pursue it to make a greater impact for good in their communities. It enhances their ability to serve the human family.

7. Education enables us to better rear our children.

Latter-day Saints recognize that education is crucial for the support and upbringing of their families. Education is a serious charge for parents who are responsible to provide the necessities of life for their children. the family to be the most fundamental unit of human society, they regard the home as the seat of human learning. Parents are divinely commissioned to rear their children “in light and truth” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:40). They have primary responsibility to bring their children to intellectual, social and spiritual maturity through precept and example. The raising of children is considered a collaboration with God, and parents and other educators are responsible to guide children in ways that benefit them immediately and eternally.[13]

We want education for our children; is it surprising that God our Father would want the same for us? He did not just create man.  "God has created man," Joseph Smith wrote, "with a mind capable of instruction."[14]  School may be on bakasyon, but man can and should always be learning.

 

Text is largely taken from "Mormons and Education and Overview" 

[1]Doctrine and Covenants 93:36.

[2]See Thomas S. Monson, “Look to God and Live,” Ensign, May 1998, 52-54; Bruce C. Hafen, “The Atonement: All for All,” Ensign, May 2004, 97-99.

[3]See Dallin H. Oaks, “A House of Faith” BYU Studies (1996), 117-18.

[4]See Doctrine and Covenants 130:19.

[5]See Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Two Principles for Any Economy,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 58.

[6]Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 266.

[7]2 Nephi 28:30; Doctrine and Covenants 88:11.

[8]Joseph Fielding Smith explained unequivocally that “knowledge comes both by reason and by revelation.” See “Educating for a Golden Era of Continuing Righteousness,” A Golden Era of Continuing Education (Brigham Young University, 1971), 2; Doctrine and Covenants 9:2.

[9]See Richard C. Edgley, “Faith—the Choice Is Yours,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, 31-33.

[10]Quoted in George H. Brimhall, “The Brigham Young University,” Improvement Era, July 1920, 831.

[11]James E. Faust, “Learning for Eternity” (BYU devotional address, Nov. 18, 1997), 3.

[12]See Thomas S. Monson, “Great Expectations” (BYU devotional address, Jan. 11, 2009), 3.

[13]See L. Tom Perry, “Mothers Teaching Children in the Home,” Ensign, May 2010, 29-31.

[14]See History of the Church, 2:8; from “The Elders of the Church in Kirtland, to Their Brethren Abroad,” Jan. 22, 1834, published in Evening and Morning Star, Feb. 1834, p. 135..

"We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker, and is caught up to dwell with HIm.  But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment."

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