Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Elder David A. Bednar on our commitment to education and learning

Elder David A. Bednar (born June 15, 1952) was serving as the president of BYU–Idaho when he was called and sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2004.
"A hierarchy of importance exists among the things you and I can learn. Indeed, all learning is not equally important. The Apostle Paul taught this truth in his second epistle to Timothy as he warned that in the latter days many people would be 'ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth' (2 Timothy 3:7).
"Some facts are helpful or interesting to know. Some knowledge is useful to learn and apply. But gospel truths are essential for us to understand and live if we are to become what our Heavenly Father yearns for us to become. The type of learning I am attempting to describe is not merely the accumulation of data and facts and frameworks; rather, it is acquiring and applying knowledge for righteousness.
"The revelations teach us that 'the glory of God is intelligence' (D&C 93:36). We typically may think the word intelligence in this scripture denotes innate cognitive ability or a particular gift for academic work. In this verse, however, one of the meanings of intelligence is the application of the knowledge we obtain for righteous purposes. As President David O. McKay taught, the learning 'for which the Church stands... is the application of knowledge to the development of a noble and Godlike character' (David O. McKay, 'True Education,' Improvement Era, March 1957, 141).
"You and I are here upon the earth to prepare for eternity, to learn how to learn, to learn things that are temporally important and eternally essential, and to assist others in learning wisdom and truth (see D&C 97:1). Understanding who we are, where we came from, and why we are upon the earth places upon each of us a great responsibility both to learn how to learn and to learn to love learning."
- David A. Bednar, "Learning to Love Learning," BYU Commencement address, Apr. 24, 2008
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Addressing graduating students at BYU, Elder Bednar gave instruction and encouragement about the importance of an ongoing commitment to learning. He first discussed the role learning plays in the gospel of Jesus Christ; there is a great emphasis on seeking, asking, studying, and growing in intelligence. But it's important to know that all learning is not of equal value or importance:

The key to this type of learning is that it involves "acquiring and applying knowledge for righteousness" or "the application of the knowledge we obtain for righteous purposes." The very purpose of our mortal experience includes the opportunity and responsibility "to learn things that are temporally important and eternally essential." We must catch that vision and become devoted to it!

The rest of Elder Bednar's talk discusses other aspects of learning: how it is vital to our personal and spiritual development, and the critical nature of ongoing learning in the world we live and work in. It is good counsel, worth reviewing.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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