November Young Women Lesson: Why Is It Important For Me To Gain An Education And Develop Skills?
I would begin this young women lesson by asking the main question, why is it important for you to gain an education and develop skills? In beginning this discussion, the answers may be general benefits of gaining skills and education. Some other questions to help the young women to begin thinking about the purpose of education may include: How does our education help us? How can we help others through our education? What are some things that we can be curious about and study to learn more about?
D&C 88:78-80 gives us some answers to these question:
78 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;
79 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 perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—
80 That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.” D&C 88:78-80
This scripture suggests that we should be curious about all the knowledge that exists in the world and all the knowledge that we don’t yet have. What are some fields of study mentioned in this scripture? (Theory, religion, philosophy, different types of sciences, foreign studies, history, humanities) What is our mission or calling that the scripture talks about? Do we all have the same mission in life, or is our mission personally tailored to us? How does a broad study of all of these subjects help us in fulfilling our individual missions? How can we know what to study and what skills to develop and what our personal callings are?
D&C 88: 118 reads, “…seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”
How does faith help us in developing our own visions for what we can be and do in the world, and in determining a course of study or skills that we need in order to fulfill our visions?
Mary N. Cook, first counselor in the young women presidency, described her experience in using both faith and study to achieve her purposes in life, especially at times when it wasn’t easy to see a clear path:
“When I was a young woman, I borrowed skis that were way too long and boots that were way too big, and a friend taught me how to ski! We went on a beautiful spring day filled with bright sun, perfect snow, and cloudless, blue skies. Anxiety about the steep sloped gave way to delight as I learned. And though I tumbled quite a few times on those long skis, I got up and I kept trying. I came to love the sport!
I soon found out, however, that not all ski days and weather conditions were that ideal. On days with overcast skies, we skied in a condition called “flat light.” Flat light occurs when the light from the sun is diffused by the clouds. Looking ahead at the white snow, you find that your depth perception vanishes, and it is difficult to judge the steepness of the slope or see the moguls and bumps on the hill.
Young women, you may be looking forward to your future as I looked at that steep ski slope. You may feel at times that you are living in flat light, unable to see what lies ahead of you. Learning by faith will give you confidence and will help you navigate your way through times of uncertainty.
I testify from personal experience that if you will seek learning not only by study but also by faith, you will be guided in what “the Lord…will need you to do and what you will need to know.”
I received my patriarchal blessing as a young woman and was counseled to prepare myself with a good education and to learn early in life those virtues that go into homemaking and rearing a family. I so wanted the blessing of a family; however, that blessing wasn’t fulfilled until I was 37, when I eventually married. My husband had been widowed, so the day we were sealed in the temple, I was suddenly blessed with not only a husband but a family of four children.
Before that, there were many days when I felt like I was skiing in flat light, asking the question, “What does the future hold for me?” I tried to follow the admonitions in my patriarchal blessing. I studied diligently to become a schoolteacher and continued my education to become an elementary school principal. I prayed to my Heavenly Father and sought guidance of the Holy Ghost. I held fervently to the promise of prophets who assured me that if I “remain true and faithful, keep [my] covenants, serve God, and love [my] Father in Heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ, [I] will not be denied any of the eternal blessings our Heavenly Father has for His faithful children.”
I know that my education prepared me for a life that has been nothing like I had envisioned as a young woman. I thought I was studying education to teach school and my future children, but I did not know the Lord was also preparing me to teach English in Mongolia on a mission with my husband and to teach the young women of the Church throughout the world and to teach my grandchildren the value of knowledge—all wonderful blessings I could never have imagined.
I testify that our Father in Heaven does know you and love you. He has placed great trust in you and has a work that only you can do. I want to assure you that you will be prepared for that great work if you seek learning by study and also by faith. Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” Mary N. Cook; Seek Learning: You Have a Work To Do, April 2012 Conference
For thousands and thousands of years, women have been excluded from education. The first women’s college didn’t open in the US until 200 years after the first men’s college. It didn’t become a common thing for women to go to college until the 1980s. In many parts of the world, girls are still excluded from receiving an education. After reading what Sister Cook said about God having a “work that only you can do,” why do you think it is especially important for you as a girl to get an education?
When women are educated and given skills to share with the world, progress is made in every aspect of society. A great book that documents this progress is “Half The Sky,” by Sheryl WuDunn and and Nicholas D. Kristof: “It is no accident that the countries that have enjoyed an economic take off have been those that educated girls and then gave them autonomy to move to the cities to find work.”
Who are some women you know who have valued education and made a difference in their lives and in society because of their education?
How does education make us powerful in defeating evil in the world? D&C 93:36 says, “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.” When we gain more intelligence, we are filled with light and truth. When light and truth abound, darkness disappears.
Our current First Lady Michelle Obama is another educated woman who is doing good things with her education, and she is also working to help all girls get an education. She says, “When girls are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous.”
A great resource about educating girls is this twelve minute video of Michelle Obama speaking in 2009. You may consider playing all or part of it in class. I recommend the second half of it.
In conclusion, you might ask the young women again to think deeply and answer from their personal desires and perspectives, rather than the general benefits, why is it important for you to gain an education and develop skills? What is your purpose to accomplish in the world, and what skills and education do you need to accomplish your purpose?