Nancy Wentworth, the chair of education at BYU, spoke to students and administration about the importance of a secondary education and also an eternal education at the Tuesday afternoon devotional.
Within Wentworth’s address, she used three metaphors to describe these two types of education: a race, a garden and a family. She said on her first days of teaching, she asks her students to discuss how education is related to the three metaphors.
“When I ask my students to think about a race as a metaphor for education, they almost always begin the discussion with the notion of competition,” Wentworth said. “In the classroom there are some students who feel that they can never be the best student in the class, the winner, so why should they continue? As teachers we try to encourage growth in our students, not just winning.”
Wentworth went on to explain that personal improvement is a victory in and of itself, and that through working hard any student can improve. The same applies to eternal education; striving to become disciples of Christ is not a competition. Wentworth advises to help one another, “coach” one another, and work together.
When Wentworth related education to a garden, she talked compared the gardener to a teacher. They create an environment in which children, or seeds, can learn and grow into their full potential.
“It is the responsibility of the gardener to create an environment where the seed can grow (and) where the students can thrive and develop,” Wentworth said. “When thinking about our eternal education to become a disciple of Christ, how have you prepared yourself to receive the gospel and grow in your potential during this lifetime?
If the gospel seeds are planted deep within someone’s heart and it is grown and developed through service and education, Wentworth said it will help in the process of gaining an eternal education to become a disciple of Christ.
The final metaphor Wentworth related to education was family. She talked about how loving parents teach their children correct and righteous principles, and encourage them to constantly improve.
“At school, children learn many things beyond skills and knowledge,” Wentworth said. “They learn to share, to work hard, to experience new things, to ask questions (and) to explore new ideas. Like a loving parent, good teachers point out the small successes of their students so the students want to keep trying, keep working and keep growing.”
Wentworth concluded with an encouragement for all to learn, grow and become disciples of Jesus Christ.
“I pray that you will remember the race metaphor and know that you are not in a race with other for eternal life–but that you will listen to those who are like a coach who teach you how to develop as a disciple of Christ,” Wentworth said. “I pray that you can place the seed of the gospel in your heart and that your experiences living the gospel will help that seed to grow. I pray that you will prepare for eternal life by loving and serving all of mankind as part of your eternal family–not as a sacrifice, but with joy in the service.”