The history of Education Week



    Every year around this time BYU seems to be filled with hoards of men and women from the age of fourteen and up, with contagious smiles on their faces, but who are they, and why are they here?

    It’s obvious they aren’t all EFY participants, and they definitely can’t all be here for women’s conference, so the only obvious program that could bring such a diverse group together would be Education Week.

    Holding Education Week at BYU has been a tradition for more then 77 years, but just how did it all come about?

    In 1922, Franklin Harris was the President of BYU, and Lowry Nelson was the director of the Extension Division. Nelson had felt that there should exist a program that would allow training for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Nelson eventually submitted his idea to Harris and the chairman of the Board of Trustees, Heber J.Grant, also President of the LDS Church. Once Nelson got his approval, Leadership Week began.

    Over a period of 77 years, a few things have changed. Leadership Week used to be held in January to accommodate all the farmers that wouldn’t be able to attend during the farming season, but as less men took up farming, the time changed to August.

    As more and more people heard about Leadership Week, the numbers jumped from 2,046, which was the first session in 1922, to 5,000 people in 1972. The rising number of participants was due to the fact that Leadership Week was no longer for just church leaders; everyone from the age of fourteen and older was allowed to attended and this caused the name to change to Education Week in 1963.

    The leap in numbers also was caused by more people advertising Education Week to their friends, neighbors, and just about everyone. More people were beginning to become involved in education.

    That sort of advertising hasn’t ceased. Now more than 30,000 people attend Education Week. According to Duane Hiatt, director of editorial and media programs at continuing education, the drastic rise in numbers have made Education Week the biggest single continuing education program in the country.

    Although there have been many things that has changed since 1922, one thing that has never changed is its location — BYU.

    “There are more facilities here at BYU. The classrooms and area for gatherings are perfect for the numbers of people. One of the best things about having Education Week at BYU is the people; they’re marvelous. We are able to get the support of the food service workers, the police, those that have helped organize it, etc,” Hiatt said. “It’s wonderful to see that everyone is so willing to share their expertise.”

    Hiatt is also amazed at the 500 people throughout the valley who have volunteered their expertise.

    “This is what we need, a facility like this with the opportunity that this provides, and people who are willing to contribute. We feel that through Education Week we are able to give back to the community that does so much to support us,” said Hiatt.

    With encouragement like that from the community it’s no wonder why Education Week does so well, but according to Hiatt, the success is attributed to not only the volunteers, but also to the participants.

    “This program is successful because of two things. First, because of the teachers in the church and at this University that volunteer their time. (They) are dedicated because they love what they do, they love the students, and they want to build testimonies. Second, it is the members that come to education with an extreme hunger to learn. It is through those two things that … make it as large and as successful and powerful among the people.”

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