25) INDIVIDUAL: What should be the role of the individual in education? How important is self-government?


Prophetic Statements

Brigham Young

Let us train our minds until we delight in that which is good, lovely and holy, seeking continually after that intelligence which will enable us effectually to build up Zion, which consists in building houses, tabernacles, temples, streets, and every convenience and necessity to embellish and beautify, seeking to do the will of the Lord all the days of our lives, improving our minds in all scientific and mechanical knowledge, seeking diligently to understand the great design and plan of all created things, that we may know what to do with our lives and how to improve upon the facilities placed within our reach. [1]

If we wish to be taught, to receive, and understand, we must train ourselves. [2]

We are in a great school, and we should be diligent to learn, and continue to store up the knowledge of heaven and of earth, and read good books, although I cannot say that I would recommend the reading of all books, for it is not all books which are good. Read good books, and extract from them wisdom and understanding as much as you possibly can, aided by the Spirit of God. [3]

Every man and woman that has talent and hides it will be called a slothful servant. Improve day by day upon the capital you have. In proportion as we are capacitated to receive, so it is our duty to do. [4]

If I do not learn what is in the world, from first to last, somebody will be wiser than I am. I intend to know the whole of it, both good and bad. Shall I practice evil? No; neither have I told you to practice it, but to learn by the light of truth every principle there is in existence in the world. [5]

And inasmuch as the Lord Almighty has designed us to know all that is in the earth, both the good and the evil, and to learn not only what is in heaven, but what is in hell, you need not expect ever to get through learning. Though I mean to learn all that is in heaven, earth, and hell. Do I need to commit iniquity to do it? No. If I were to go into the bowels of hell to find out what is there, that does not make it necessary that I should commit one evil, or blaspheme in any way the name of my Maker. [6]

One scholar in a school may far outstrip the rest; but give them sufficient time, and they can learn what the quick, bright scholar has learned so easily and quickly. If we are capacitated to learn one thing today, we can learn another tomorrow. It is the height of folly to say that a man can only learn so much and no more. The further literary men advance in their studies, the more they discern there is to learn, and the more anxious they are to learn. [7]

We may live here year after year, and store up knowledge all the time, and yet not have an opportunity of exhibiting it to others; it is on hand; whenever the time comes it should be used. [8]

Experience has taught us that it requires time to acquire certain branches of mechanism, also all principles and ideas that we wish to become masters of. The closer people apply their minds to any correct purpose the faster they can grow and increase in the knowledge of the truth. When they learn to master their feelings, they can soon learn to master their reflections and thoughts in the degree requisite for attaining the objects they are seeking. But while they yield to a feeling or spirit that distracts their minds from a subject they wish to study and learn, so long they will never gain the mastery of their minds. [9]

No matter what your circumstances are, whether you are in prosperity or in adversity, you can learn from every person, transaction, and circumstance around you. [10]

Joseph F. Smith

“What can be done to stem the tide of evil that is sweeping through the land?” I apprehend that one of the greatest evils existing, that is “sweeping through the land,” is that of ignorance, coupled with indifference. I presume that if the ignorant were not so indifferent to these facts and to their condition they might be prompted to learn more than they do. The trouble with men and women is that they too frequently close their eyes to the facts that exist around them, and it seems to be very difficult for many of the people to learn and adapt to their lives those simple truths that should be in fact the household words and precepts of every Latter-day Saint, and of every home of a Latter-day Saint. How shall we stem the tide of this evil, this indifference, this consequent ignorance? It appears to me that the only way to do it is to wake up and become interested, or to interest ourselves in those things which are so important and necessary to the happiness and well-being of the children of men, especially that which is so needful for the happiness and well-being of ourselves individually.

It isn’t all that is necessary, to learn the truth or to cease to be ignorant. Following that comes the application of the understanding and knowledge that we gain, to those works and things that are needful for our protection and for the protection of our children, our neighbors, our homes, our happiness.1

Spencer W. Kimball

The Lord seems never to have placed a premium on ignorance and yet He has, in many cases, found His better-trained people unresponsive to the spiritual, and has had to use spiritual giants with less training to carry on His work. Peter was said to be ignorant and unlearned, while Nicodemus was, as the Savior said, a master, a trained one, an educated man. And while Nicodemus would in his aging process gradually lose his prestige, his strength, and go to the grave a man of letters without eternal knowledge, Peter would go to his reputed crucifixion the greatest man in all the world, perhaps still lacking considerably in secular knowledge (which he would later acquire), but being pre-eminent in the greater, more important knowledge of the eternities and God and His creations and their destinies. [11]

Ezra Taft Benson

I know what it is, as many of your faculty members do, to work my way through school, taking classes only during winter quarters. If you don’t have the finances to complete your education, drop out a semester and go to work and save. You will be a better man or woman for so doing. You will have preserved your self-respect and initiative. Wisdom comes with experience and struggle, not just with going through a university matriculation. I hope you will not be deceived by current philosophies which will rob you of your godly dignity, self-respect, and initiative, those attributes that make a celestial inheritance possible. [12]

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” said the prophet Hosea [13]. Let us not let it happen to us. First, let us do our homework, because action without the proper education can lead to fanaticism. But after we have done our homework, let us take action, because education without action can only lead to frustration and failure. [14]

Opposing Statements


Supporting Statements

  1. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 247
  2. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 247
  3. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 248
  4. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 248
  5. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 248
  6. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 249
  7. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 250
  8. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 250
  9. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 250
  10. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 250
  11. Spencer W. Kimball, Education for Eternity, speech given at BYU Annual Faculty Conference, Sep. 12, 1967
  12. Ezra Taft Benson, “A Vision and a Hope for the Youth of Zion,” in 1977 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo, Utah: BYU, 1978], p. 78
  13. Hosea 4:6
  14. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 301; God, Family, Country, p. 380
  1. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, pp. 343-344; M. I. A. Conference, 1910; Young Woman’s Journal, Vol. 21, pp. 403-406
Filter by Categories

Explore our newest project!

Unlock a treasure trove of FREE resources! Dive into engaging videos, lesson plans, activities, and much more—all perfectly aligned with Come Follow Me 2024.

Join our email newsletter!
Latest News