September, 30, 2013

The Chartered Course in Education

clip_image002Joseph Smith taught, “We are all responsible to God for the manner we improve the light and wisdom given by our Lord to enable us to save ourselves.To fulfill this solemn obligation, we must continue throughout our lives to learn truths of every kind: truths grounded in evidence and reason, truths gained from experience, and truths revealed from heaven.

President Brigham Young told Karl G. Maeser, “I want you to remember that you ought not to teach even the alphabet or the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God. That is all. God bless you. Good-bye.”1 In this admonition by President Young, we have the overview of what “education for the whole soul” andtrue freedom of the mind” looks like. Generations of professors had followed this guidance as they taught thousands of students.

In the 1938 summer school training for teachers in Aspen Grove, J. Reuben Clark, First Counselor in the First Presidency, reminded professors about the founding principles of the school and restated the charted course for Church education with clarity: its inalterable component was teaching the divine mission of Jesus Christ and the prophetic work of Joseph Smith. He simply declared that, “to teach religion in the Church system, one must have a testimony of these truths and the courage to declare and live by them.”3

  1. Reinhard Maeser, Karl G. Maeser: A Biography by His Son (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1928), 79.
  2. Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2nd ed. Rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978), 4:606
  3. J. Reuben Clark Jr. Address given to Church seminary and institute leaders on August 8, 1938, at the BYU Summer School in Aspen Grove.