WHY?: the key question for an eternal education

Remember those classes in school when you wondered, “When will I ever use this? Why am I even memorizing this stuff?”

I’d walk out of my university’s testing center and actually felt the crammed facts seep out of my mind and drift off into the air. My brain exhaled; and I my headspace enlarged with the suppressed statistics finally free. I’d look up at the school’s “scoreboard” (the screen that posted our test results) and sigh, or cry, or smile … and then walk away … content to never chase down that data again. What a shame.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case of my entire education! In fact, I still find myself spouting what a specific professor taught in a specific lesson. Indeed, I use a significant chunk of my educational training on a daily basis – professionally, in parenting and in everyday situations!

But as I begin another year of homeschooling, I find myself wondering what the difference is. How can I make their education most useful, most lasting – even eternal?

For it is told in the scriptures that:

“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection … and if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” (D&C130:19) In the book, Increase in Learning by David A. Bednar (a personal favorite of mine!) it explains that:

“The meaning of intelligence is the application of the knowledge we obtain for righteous purposes.” And later it says, “Appropriate applications are necessary but can never stand alone. What is needed is a balance among doctrines, principles and applications.”

Ah, that beautiful and haunting word: balance. Balance between knowing something, understanding it in our hearts, and then applying it in our lives. It is essential for eternal learning (a.k.a. long-term learning … yes, the longest-term of learning in existence).

And then I came across this quote about a study conducted regarding having a long-term commitment when learning. It’s from Daniel Coyle’s book, The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.

“When McPherson saw the graph, he was stunned. “I couldn’t believe my eyes,” he said. Progress was determined not by any measurable aptitude or trait, but by a tiny, powerful idea the child had before even starting lessons. The differences were staggering. With the same amount of practice, the long-term-commitment group outperformed the short-term-commitment group by 400 percent. The long-term-commitment group, with a mere 20 minutes of weekly practice, progressed faster than the short-termers who practiced for an hour and a half. When long-term commitment combined with high levels of practice, skills skyrocketed.”

Ah ha! For the education to resonate, that long-term perspective and commitment needs to exist prior to learning the lessons! We must understand the “why” we’re learning before we learn it; knowing that we WILL use this information throughout our lives.

In fact, this whole round of pondering points me to the original scripture:

“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection … and if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” (D&C130:19) We get to take our knowledge, understanding and intelligence with us to the next life – and it will be to our advantage in the eternities. That is the why we are learning. And it is up to us, as parents, to identify the specific “why” behind each subject and principle as we go … Why? Because it will benefit our children for eternity!

 

eternal education

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  • Cami Dunbar
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    Jessica, I totally agree! In the last few weeks I have felt guided to simplify, to focus on asking questions and to make sure my kids understand “the why” of all we learn in our homeschool. Thank you for another beautiful and inspired post!

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