Education: Gaining knowledge prepares young women for life
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"The story is told that Brigham Young was once asked what he would do if he had to choose between providing education for his sons or for his daughters. He replied that he would educate his daughters because they would become the mothers of his grandchildren" (President Gordon B. Hinckley, "Our Responsibility to Our Young Women," Ensign, September 1988).
"Education," an important standard in For the Strength of Youth, is essential to prepare our young women, not only for the challenging world in which they live, but to prepare them to be mother-educators in righteous homes where they will raise future generations.
At this time of year when we honor our pioneer ancestry, I am reminded that education has always been a subject that latter-day prophets have emphasized for our youth. Even when they were struggling to find enough food to stay alive, the Saints in Utah started schools for their children.
"Brigham Young instructed the migrating Saints to bring with them at least a copy of every valuable treatise on education — every book, map, chart or diagram that may contain interesting, useful, and attractive matter, to gain the attention of children, and cause them to love to learn to read; and, also every historical, mathematical, philosophical, geographical, geological, astronomical, scientific, practical, and all other variety of useful and interesting writings, maps, etc., to present to the General Church Recorder, when they shall arrive at their destination, from which important and interesting matter may be gleaned to compile the most valuable works, on every science and subject, for the benefit of the rising generation" (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, "Education: Attitudes Toward Education," Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992, p. 443, emphasis added).
As Young Women leaders, we are in a position to support young women in their educational pursuits and provide additional educational opportunities "for the benefit of [our] rising generation."
Sunday lessons help young women to become truly converted to the gospel. You have been called to help a young woman strengthen her testimony. The scriptures, specifically the Book of Mormon, as well as current words of our latter-day prophets, provide the best curriculum for true conversion.
In all gospel teaching, however, the Spirit is the real teacher. If you seek His guidance, He will touch your heart and inspire those you teach. One of the best ways to invite the Spirit is to engage the youth in discussing the scriptures and the most recent teachings from living prophets.
We all know that the teacher learns the most, so let the young women do some of the teaching. Invite them to study a scripture passage or conference talk during the week. Have them share what they are studying in family home evening, in classes, in Mutual activities, as guests in Primary, or in many other formal and informal settings. As we witness at camp, when young women share their testimonies with each other, the Spirit bears witness, and all are edified.
Personal Progress is a great way to educate young women both spiritually and temporally. Ask them what they would like to learn or teach to other young women. You might also ask parents what skills or help they could use to educate their daughters. Seek out "experts" in your ward to teach a skill to individuals, classes or even at Relief Society meetings where young women could participate. Have you ever thought of having the young women teach Relief Society sisters how to do family history indexing? This certainly would be an "all [being] edified by all" experience. (See Doctrine and Covenants 88:122.)
Use mentors. "Who was your mentor? Who could be trusted to answer the important questions you had? Who was there to give you advice? Who served as a role model at important points in your life?" (McKay Today Magazine, "Education in a Changing World," David O. McKay School of Education, Fall 2009, p.16). Our young women need trusted mentors now more than ever to give them confidence and vision of future possibilities such as creating a Christ-centered home, serving a mission, post-high school training, employment and service opportunities.
The best mentor for a young woman, of course, is her mother. But as mothers, we know we aren't experts at everything. Seek out members in your ward who can support and help young women with their educational interests. Some may need help with their formal schooling and a young single adult or older Relief Society sister may welcome the opportunity.
Remember, "most successful people have had a mentor at some time in their life, whether in business, sports, the arts, the classroom, or university work" (McKay Today Magazine).
Mutual and other activities
Mutual and other activities play an integral role in the conversion process as young women practice what they are learning. The purpose of Mutual is to gather, strengthen and prepare them for their future. Offer a variety of activities in many areas such as home and family, leadership, service, health and fitness, education and career, cultural arts and even mission preparation.
And don't forget, young women welcome any opportunity to learn with young men! Learning together in a wholesome setting gives them opportunities to teach each other, gain confidence, learn communication skills and have fun.
Let's follow President Young's counsel to help our young women become well educated both temporally and spiritually. Let's help young women realize the promises found in For the Strength of Youth: "Education will prepare you for greater service in the world and in the Church. It will help you better provide for yourself, your family, and those in need. It will also help you be a wise counselor and companion to your future spouse and an informed and effective teacher of your future children. Education is an investment that brings great rewards and will open the doors of opportunity that may otherwise be closed to you" (For the Strength of Youth, "Education," 2011, p. 9).
You educate a woman you educate a generation.
Future generations are counting on us to do our part.