Each young man will realize that developing and expanding his mind increases his understanding and enjoyment of people, places, and the world and helps prepare him to contribute to society and to the Church.
Scriptures for each young man.
Pencils for marking scriptures.
Paper and a pencil for each young man.
The mind is refreshed, expanded, and stimulated by learning. Recall learning experiences you have found rewarding—when you first learned of the immensity of the solar system, or understood how electricity worked, or really sensed the beauty of a poem, or felt the power of a great piece of art. During this lesson, seek to excite the young men with the pleasure of learning by helping them understand that God has commanded them to learn and that happiness is enhanced through learning.
Suggested Lesson Development
Story and discussion
Read the following story, or relate it in your own words:
The amazing American scientist George Washington Carver (1864–1943) had a great thirst for knowledge. At the age of eight, this small, thin son of former slaves was growing a large botanical garden of unusual flowers and plants, just to satisfy his curiosity about them. His father found a spelling book for him so he could learn to read and find answers to his questions about flowers.
At ten he learned of a grammar school some eight miles from his home. He was penniless and had nowhere to stay, but he headed out anyway to find an education. When he arrived at the town he found the school, registered, and immediately began looking for odd jobs (mostly cutting wood) to earn money for food. Within one year, he had learned all the schoolmistress could teach him. She then helped George locate a high school some sixty miles from his home. Again penniless, this eleven-year-old boy walked to a new school. He spent six years as a student at that school, graduating with honors at seventeen. He supported himself with a laundry business and was thrifty enough to save money to go away to college.
Eventually he became one of the world’s most renowned scientists, being recognized for his work with peanuts, sweet potatoes, and pecans. From peanuts alone he developed over three hundred by-products, including ink, butter, milk, soap, and breakfast cereal.
What impresses you most about George Washington Carver?
How important is learning to you?
Do you thirst for knowledge?
Would you have been willing to go on your own at the age of ten to get an education?
We All Have Opportunities to Learn
Scripture, chalkboard, and discussion
What is the main message of these scriptures?
What types of things does the Lord expect us to learn?
List the young men’s responses on the chalkboard.
Quotation and discussion
President N. Eldon Tanner said, “The Church has always urged us as members to get a good education and to learn everything possible about ourselves, history and geography, science, the Universe, and especially the gospel of Jesus Christ” (address at Regional Representatives’ seminar, Apr. 1971).
What are some ways we can learn the things we should? (Attend school, read, watch educational television programs, talk with people who know what we want to learn.)
Where can we go to learn these things? (Church, schools, libraries, museums.)
Explain that sometimes we may think that there is nothing interesting to learn about, but almost anything can be fascinating if we put enough study and thought into it. Learning by doing is something we all can do, no matter how little formal education we have.
Read the following story.
“One lady … once complained to Dr. Louis Agassiz, a distinguished scientist, that she had never really had a chance to learn. She told him that she and her sister ran a boardinghouse and that she didn’t have time for anything else. He asked what type of work she did, and she replied:
“‘I skin potatoes and chop onions.’
“He asked, ‘Where do you sit as you do this?’
“‘On the bottom steps of the kitchen stairs.’
“‘Where do your feet rest?’
“‘On the glazed brick.’
“‘What is glazed brick?’
“‘I don’t know, sir.’
“‘How long have you been sitting there?’
“‘Madam, here is my address,’ said Dr. Agassiz. ‘Would you kindly write me a letter concerning the nature of a glazed brick?’
“She took him seriously. She looked up ‘brick’ in the dictionary but felt that the definition was too simple to send to a famous scientist. So she looked in the encyclopedia. As she read there about bricks, she came to words that she didn’t understand. So she looked them up. And then, because she really became interested in what she was learning, she visited museums and brickyards. When she finished her studies, she sat down and wrote Dr. Agassiz a thirty-six page letter on the subject of glazed brick.
“Back came a letter from Dr. Agassiz informing her that with just a few minor changes he had published her letter and was sending $250. At the bottom of the letter he asked, ‘What was under those bricks?’
“She looked. There were ants under the bricks. So she began to study ants. She found there were between eighteen hundred and twenty-five hundred different kinds. She became fascinated by the many varieties of ants and how and where they lived. After wide reading and careful study, she wrote three hundred and sixty pages on the subject to Dr. Agassiz. He published it as a book and sent her more money.
“With the money she had received she went to visit all the lands of her dreams” (in Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, Part B, pp. 230–31; adapted from Marion D. Hanks, The Gift of Self [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], pp. 151–53).
Besides the money she received, how was this woman’s life enriched? (By increased knowledge and new interest in the world around her.)
“We too can learn much by taking an interest in the world and in the people around us. We can learn many things simply by paying attention to the experiences we have and seeking to understand them through study and by contemplating them in our minds and hearts. As we observe, study, work, and think deeply, we will learn many things of value and learn how to apply them in our daily lives” (Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, Part B, p. 231).
Give a pencil and piece of paper to each young man, and have him list two things he would enjoy learning more about. Have each young man share one of these with the other young men and explain why he is interested in that particular subject.
Learning Can Help Us to Be of Greater Service
Quotations and discussion
Share the following quotations:
“We must pursue our education to increase our capacity to serve God, others, and those in our own homes” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Common Concerns and Commitments in Church Education,” devotional assembly address at Education Week, Brigham Young University, June 1971, Provo, Utah).
“So with the words of the Lord, the study of history, math, English, and so forth, takes on additional meaning for Latter-day Saint youth. The Lord expects you to be well educated so that you will magnify your missions and callings in the building up of his kingdom” (John H. Vandenberg, “The Presiding Bishop Talks to Youth about Education,” Improvement Era, Jan. 1968, p. 79).
What are some ways that getting a good education can help us better serve the Lord? (The young men might answer that studying a foreign language can help them prepare for a mission; developing musical talents could help them serve in the ward; speaking and teaching skills could prepare them for talks, teaching assignments, and missionary service.)
You may wish to list the young men’s responses on the chalkboard.
Explain that a knowledge of people and the world around us can help us build the kingdom of God. It can help us find better ways to teach the gospel. In addition, as Latter-day Saints become well respected in their professions, no matter what they do for a living, they become examples that may influence others to learn more about the Church.
“Gaining knowledge will also help us to be of service to our fellowman. Through our knowledge, we can help people overcome sickness and suffering, find ways to make life more productive, and provide the necessary food, clothing, and shelter for our families. Above all, we can learn and share with others the principles and laws we must know to become like our Father in Heaven” (Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, Part B, p. 225).
According to this quotation, what are some ways a good education can help us serve others?
Challenge the young men to—
Set up a schedule of study time every day for a week and then follow it.
Identify one subject that they would like to know more about and then read a book or talk to an expert on the subject.
Prepare a brief summary report of their study for their parents.