November Young Women Lesson: Why is it important for me to gain an education and develop skills?

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From Tracy M.’s remarkable BCC post, “Young Women Values: Not Princesses & Not for the Faint of Heart Personal Progress Cards”

The manual may be found here.

When I was a junior in high school, I sat in a cozy room with a few of my friends, and listened as Gordon B. Hinckley encouraged us to “get A grades in [our] various courses,” and then told us that he would give us the B’s. The second of those B’s was to “be smart.”

Among other things, President Hinckley said,

You need all the education you can get…You belong to a church that teaches the importance of education. You have a mandate from the Lord to educate your minds and your hearts and your hands. The Lord has said, “Teach ye diligently … of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—that ye may be prepared in all things” (D&C 88:78–80).

…These are the words of the Lord who loves you. He wants you to train your minds and hands to become an influence for good as you go forward with your lives. And as you do so and as you perform honorably and with excellence, you will bring honor to the Church, for you will be regarded as a man or woman of integrity and ability and conscientious workmanship.


Be smart. The Lord wants you to educate your minds and hands, whatever your chosen field. Whether it be repairing refrigerators, or the work of a skilled surgeon, you must train yourselves. Seek for the best schooling available. Become a workman of integrity in the world that lies ahead of you. I repeat, you will bring honor to the Church and you will be generously blessed because of that training. (“A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for the Youth,” Ensign, January 2001.)

It meant so much to me then to have a President of the Church encourage me as a young woman to be smart, and to seek the best education possible. I knew he wasn’t just talking to the young men, because he said if I followed his counsel, I would “be regarded as a man or woman of integrity.” He further suggested that while seeking a strong education would be good for the church, it would also be good for mewould “be generously blessed, because of that training.” There was crucially no mention of my future children or husband. Just the church and me, and the Lord’s mandate to seek knowledge.

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Guest Post: Identifying White Privilege

white privilege picJosianne was born and raised in NYC. Her first encounter with overt racism was when she was 16 and encounters have only gotten harsher in the more than a decade that has passed since then. After discovering Sociology in college she committed herself to educating people about the realities of racism and subtle prejudices that exist in 21st century.

Can you say “yes” to ANY of the following?:

Have you ever said:

  • “I don’t see race?”
  • “I don’t pay attention to politics.”
  • “I don’t like to deal with/post about/etc controversial topics”
  • “Affirmative Action is reverse discrimination.”
  • “I know what you feel because on my mission/when I was in another country/the time I went to the ghetto/etc …”
  • “Racial profiling does not exist”
  • “Why don’t people pull themselves up by their bootstraps?/!”
  • “… illegal alien …”
  • “That’s not about race, it’s about …”
  • “Why do you/they always have to make everything about race?”
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White Privilege

White Privilege

Ok all, I have to talk about race. I’m no race expert, but I need to know this issue better, so writing this up with 1) allow me to work through thoughts and 2) allow those of you more knowledgable about race correct me in the comments. Also, I’ve been avoiding the big race stuff on Facebook. Yes, I made one or two statuses to comment on the Trayvon Martin case, but that (I’m not going to lie here) was so I didn’t look like a white person who is trying to pretend race doesn’t exist while also trying not to say too much lest I need to put a couple of feet into my mouth.

I have white privilege. It’s dripping out my ears. My family is white as far back as I know. I grew up from first grade on up in white Midwesternia: a few years in rural Indiana and the rest in a suburb of Chicago. My graduating high school class had one Indian student (as in India, not American Indian) and a handful of Hispanic/Latino students, but the rest looked like me. I went to BYU which is also pretty white (understatement of the year?). I knew race issues were important, but touchy. So touchy, in fact, that it was easier to not talk about it at all. After all, white privilege allows me to never have to talk about race if I don’t want to.

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Books (That I Think) Everyone Should Read

I’m not sure how many copies of The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke (Basic Books, $19.99) I’ve bought over the last ten years. It’s a book I keep lending to people, and sometimes it comes back to me and sometimes it doesn’t, so if I buy two copies at a time I always have one to pass on to someone else. I’m happy to do so, and I hope the copies I give people get passed along to someone else, because I think every woman in America should read this book. Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi explain what changed in America economically between the 1970s and the 2000s, what it’s doing to family economics, and why the rules that our parents taught us simply don’t apply any more. Bankruptcy laws have changed since 2003, but the basic trends that Warren and Tyagi identify are even more firmly established than they were when the book was written.

The same goes for The Gift of Fear (Dell, $16), Gavin de Becker’s how-to-deal guide that has “This book can save your life” splashed across the front of it.

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Guest Post: Learning a Lesson

Guest Post by Jess

Jess is an unconventional leaf on a family tree that includes an unbelievably strong mother and two fantastic brothers. She is a PhD student in psychology. When she’s not doing school-ish things she likes to hike, knit, and bake…and then eat what she bakes. 

I normally love my calling teaching Gospel Doctrine in my singles ward. It is a great opportunity to really dig in and study, and to learn from my fellow ward members. But this year has been a struggle. Church history brings up a lot of feelings for me, and most of them are not positive. Things came to a head as I was preparing my latest lesson: The Restoration of the Priesthood. The more I read, the more upset I became.

First of all, the relationship between women and the priesthood is something I have been struggling with lately, and I still have not figured out where I stand. Teaching about something that one is unsure about and uncomfortable with is really hard. Second, the only time women were mentioned was in a section titled “Blessings of the priesthood for all people,” where the question was asked, “how can women and children benefit from the priesthood?”  (Infantilize women much?) There was not a single feminine pronoun in the whole lesson. The restoration of the priesthood was a big deal for everyone, not just men. Lucky for me, when I asked The Exponent’s own Spunky for help, she sent a ton of great resources, articles, and ideas of ways to balance things out. I went in to class on Sunday feeling well prepared and ready to teach.

Happily, my bishop does not insist that we stick to the lesson in the manual. In fact, he encourages us to follow the spirit in our lessons. So, I decided to focus on the importance of priesthood authority in terms of ordinances like baptism and the temple endowment.  Those are things that are important to all God’s children right?

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