Friday, November 3, 2017

Elder Dallin H. Oaks on the importance of lifelong learning

Elder Dallin H. Oaks (b. August 12, 1932) served as president of BYU from 1971-1980.  He was then appointed as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court, and resigned when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984.
"I have been speaking about pushing back against worldly values and practices that are contrary to gospel teachings and covenants. I now conclude by urging you to practice one worldly value that is consistent with the gospel culture. It is the importance of lifelong learning, which for us is promoted and directed by eternal priorities. Beyond increasing our occupational qualifications, we should desire to learn how to become more emotionally fulfilled, more skilled in our personal relationships, and better parents and citizens. There are few things more fulfilling and fun than learning something new. Greater happiness, satisfaction, and even temporal rewards come from this.
"Our education should not be limited to formal study. Lifelong learning can increase our ability to appreciate and relish the workings and beauty of the world around us. This kind of learning goes well beyond books and a selective use of new technology, such as the internet. It includes artistic endeavors. It also includes experiences with people and places: conversations with friends; travel; visits to museums, plays, and concerts; and opportunities for service.
"Graduates, expand yourselves and enjoy the journey."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Push Back Against the World," Commencement Address at BYU-Hawaii, February 25, 2017
Click here to read the entire talk

Speaking to a graduating class at BYU-Hawaii earlier this year, Elder Oaks gave a reminder that applies not just to new graduates, but to all. Education doesn't end with graduation, and isn't limited to formal classroom settings. We believe in the importance of "lifelong learning," in particular learning that is "promoted and directed by eternal priorities" (an important distinction). I agree with his claim that there aren't many things more fun and fulfilling than learning new things!

Elder Oaks points out that there are many ways to continue learning:

This is such an important reminder. We learn in ways beyond reading books, sitting in classes, or researching on the Internet. Our experiences with other people are great sources; travel is invaluable; and taking advantage of local resources including artistic and cultural presentations can expand our horizons. The final suggestion that serving others is a part of our education is one that might not have been anticipated.

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

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