• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Online classes at BYU-Idaho use 'Discussion Boards,' a place to post comments and replies, to facilitate interactions with the instructor and between students. Often readings or assignments must be completed as the basic topic for the discussion. The following was a discussion about education.

 Discussion Board Reading "Everybody Is Ignorant, Only on Different Subjects" by Eliot A. Butler (audio)

Question by student group leader: would you consider that a man with no formal education, training, or wide/vast experience could be considered an "educated" person? As an example, let's consider the Savior. Please feel free to also use our other study readings to help substantiate your thoughts. Also, what characteristics, qualities, or accomplishments did he exhibit that help you to draw your conclusion? So, can an education be had through the Spirit? Can we be taught in ways other than in schools and academies? How do we learn?

Linda said:

I took a wee bit of exception to Brother Butler's statement, "When I hear someone say learning is fun, I wonder if that person has never learned or if he has just never had fun (page82)." He speaks of the hard work and drudgery of learning, but then on page 86 contradicts himself, somewhat, as he shows his bias about how fun learning really can be because it changes and enriches our lives even when it creates a "craving" for more "hard work."

My parents never has the opportunity to "go to school" beyond the 8th (mom) and 9th grades (dad). They learned to read, write, and do basic math AND to prize learning of every kind. I think they are educated people yet they never attended high school. They do both know how to work and how to learn and they have never stopped doing it. They taught their 11 children to love and prize learning and find joy in all aspects of living.

Imagine my surprise when I got a Facebook request to friend my father. He decided he was tired of not knowing all the stuff everyone kept saying they learned on FB, so when he turned 85, he got a computer, got help to set it up and learn the rudiments of using it, and sent out friend requests to his family and friends. He is living! He is learning! He is loving life and learning. So is mom. They are wonderful examples of being educated.

Another student said that college is hard work and that people with a college education have worked harder and are smarter. I replied:

“[Susy Somebody], you make a good point that the people with education have put in extra time to be more successful. People that complete college have worked very hard and their degrees ‘prove’ they have. Would it be possible for someone that has not attended college to ‘work’ that hard? What might ‘prove’ their work? Would it be possible for someone to ‘work’ harder than a diligent college student? How would we measure such things as ‘effort’ and ‘work?’ Wouldn't it be fascinating to study and tabulate such statistics?

“With no intent to offend, I must disagree with you. I think that people that attend college may or may not be ‘smarter,’ and that although they do work hard, that the work they do is not always more or harder than the work of learning that people without the chance for college do (and anyone can do ‘extra’ work). The people that do not get to go to college have different stresses. They have to deal with working harder than someone that happens to have a chance to get a degree so they can obtain the same (or more) experience. Consider the stress of learning and adapting ‘on the job’ when they have been denied opportunities for formal education. Now that is work! It is also a willingness to learn that many that attend college never attain.

“My father worked as a general contractor and handyman rancher. He learned from his father who learned from his father. During harvest seasons formal schooling always waited until work that sustained life was complete. Although he had no papers to prove it, his reputation (as a skilled a highly competent contractor) provided more work than he could do and he often ran multiple crews trying to accommodate all the ‘jobs’ he had requests for.

“Once he was referred to be a foreman on a large government project but could only be hired as a laborer because he had no papers. He never complained he just took the lower paying job because it was an opportunity to increase his experience and contacts - and a unique project he wanted to be a part of.

“The ‘foreman’ that had degrees and papers had no real on the job experience, but his resume was wonderful. He did not, however, really understand what the actual work entailed or how to manage crews. Within a short time, the work demanded of workers had to be done over, men were walking off the job in frustration, and a few months later he was fired. Meanwhile my father's common sense solutions, (and support to other men he worked with) and daily, diligent efforts proved his ability and by the time the foreman was fired he was requested to fill the position. Many ‘get’ to attend college. Do they ‘learn’? And do they ‘love it?’”

In reply to the further questions: "Can an education be had through the Spirit? Can we be taught in ways other than in schools and academies? How do we learn?"

I think that part of our experience at BYU-I is to teach us how to achieve that kind of learning -- it is part of what the BYU-I Learning Model is about. Using my father's jobs as an example again – see my reply to Susy above - Can you tell I admire dad a lot? He is not perfect, just available readily to use as an example: He was one of the workers that helped remodel and renovate the Cardston, Alberta Temple (a 3 year process). There is a bas relief, by Torleif Knapfus titled 'Christ the Fountainhead,' depicting the Savior with the woman at the well, on the front of the temple (can be seen here at this link and at the top of the page).
When I was a child our Primary would at times go there and touch it or have pictures taken with it as a group. When first built there was a fountain below it, to reflect the image. The pool was later removed.

The temple had an entry added in the "restoration" work and that area was enclosed. As part of temple's preservation and being returned to its historical state, the fountain with a pool of water below the frieze was re-built. Because of the unique architecture and the challenges faced, some had difficulty to quite figure out how to accomplish what the architects wanted the pool to be formed like.

Some voiced that the "planned renovation" was impossible and could not be done. My father was asked by those that knew him best if he could suggest any solutions. He accepted the invitation. He took careful measurements, reviewed the blueprints with the engineers and pondered it for a day or two.

Later, to me, he described a marvelous process of prayer and inspiration. He knew, and he wanted me to know, that the Lord could teach him how to set up the forms and prepare the site for the construction of the pool there. He said he was led along not always knowing what the next step might be, but carefully proceeding (based on broad experience and knowledge) as he "felt" he should, always discussing his ideas with the engineers and site supervisors, as well as the Lord. He successfully built and placed forms for the pool that now exists inside the Cardston Alberta Temple.