Sunday, January 18, 2015

Henry B. Eyring on continuing education

President Eyring (1933- ) served in the Presiding Bishopric from 1985-1992, as a Seventy from 1992-1995, then was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He has served in the First Presidency since 2007. These remarks were shared during a CES fireside address in 2001.
"No service that matters can be given over a lifetime by those who stop learning. A great teacher is always studying. A nurse never stops facing the challenge of dealing with something new, be it equipment or procedure. And the workplace in every industry is changing so rapidly that what we know today will not be enough for tomorrow.
"Our education must never stop. If it ends at the door of the classroom on graduation day, we will fail. And since what we will need to know is hard to discern, we need the help of heaven to know which of the myriad things we could study we would most wisely learn. It also means that we cannot waste time entertaining ourselves when we have the chance to read or to listen to whatever will help us learn what is true and useful. Insatiable curiosity will be our hallmark.
"For many of us, the feeling bears down on us that we must choose between spiritual and secular learning. That is a false conflict for most of us, particularly for the young. Before we have families, there is leisure time even in what is our busiest day. Too often we use many hours for fun and pleasure, clothed in the euphemism 'I'm recharging my batteries.' Those hours could be spent reading and studying to gain knowledge, skills, and culture."
- Henry B. Eyring, "Education for Real Life," CES fireside in Moscow, Idaho, on 6 May 2001; see Ensign, Oct 2002, p. 14.  Click here to read the full article
The ancient apostle Paul worried about those in the last days who would be "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7).  President Eyring worries first that we don't even get that far—that instead, we stop learning altogether. So the first challenge is to be ongoing students, to be committed to learning, to be cautious and wise in how we use our free time in the midst of so many opportunities.

In modern revelation, the Lord has continued to issued this challenge: " and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people" (D&C 90:15).  Clearly He intends for that to be an ongoing, continual process.

In addition, President Eyring assures us that we need not be overly concerned about the perceived choices of "spiritual" and "secular" learning, since both can lead to good ends. I love pondering D&C 88:77-80 where we are encouraged to study and teach not only the "doctrines of the kingdom," but also a list of topics that seems to include such diverse fields as astronomy, geology, history, current events, social issues, international relations, geography—quite a diverse list! But we should choose wisely where we devote our energies. The key, the second challenge from President Eyring, and the solution to Paul's concern, lies in invoking "the help of heaven" to guide us in what we should study.

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