A Beginning Pattern
In the early days of the Church, Joseph Smith was inspired to begin a school in Kirtland, Ohio; a school with a specific purpose. The School of the Prophets was born and it was incredibly successful. The school focused on educating church leaders and missionaries. The small group, rarely over 25, met together in a room above the Newel K. Whitney Store, where the Spirit was the dominate teacher.
Each member was instructed to come physically and mentally prepared. One’s appearance was to be clean and modest. The pupils were to wear clean clothes and have washed before coming. Most days, the participants came to the meetings fasting. They partook of the sacrament each day and prayerfully prepared themselves for spiritual revelation. The meetings usually began at sunrise and were finished in the late afternoon.
Orson Hyde was the main instructor, with Joseph Smith presiding. Scripture and doctrinal studies were the strongest focused, although, subjects as seemingly simple and rudimentary as grammar were also taught. They were to be “instructed in all things that are expedient for them…” (D&C 88:127).
“Great joy and satisfaction continually beamed in the countenances of the School of the Prophets, and the Saints, on account of the things revealed, and our progress in the knowledge of God,” Joseph Smith said.
In addition to all the studies, many revelations were received to individuals and even the church. Joseph Smith received the revelation we now know as the Word of Wisdom on February 27, 1833 during the School of the Prophets meeting.
Although the school only lasted for four months (January-April 1833), it became a model for many other priesthood schools including the School of the Elders in Missouri, where Parley P. Pratt presided, the School for the Elders in Kirtland (successor of School of the Prophets), the Hebrew School (instructed by Joshua Seixas) and the Kirtland School (which offered an academic education for men and women). The School of the Prophets also set a pattern for how education in the church is done today.