Nancy Wentworth, chair of the department of teacher education, addressed students Tuesday in a devotional talk titled, “Our Eternal Education.”
Wentworth told students that our eternal education, including how we use our gift of agency, how we learn from experience and how we prepare for eternal life, can be done effectively by becoming a disciple of Christ.
She discussed three metaphors referring to education including education as a race, education as a garden, and the education as a family.
The element of competition is obvious in the metaphor of education as a race, but in our eternal education, Wentworth said, we should remember that we are not in competition with others.
“As teachers we try to encourage growth in our students, not just winning,” she said. “Is the student or athlete trying to improve his own learning and understanding or is he only trying to beat someone else? We want them to feel that their personal improvement is a victory and that working hard is the way to improve.”
One area of importance for Wentworth in the race metaphor is the role of the coach and the role of the athlete.
“In the Olympics,” she said, “athletes were grateful to the coaches who had recognized their ability, who had helped them know which race would suit their natural talents, who had helped them improve, who had advised them about a strength that needed to be built, and who had encouraged them as they repeated and repeated the skill until their performance, their time, improved.”
It is also important that the athlete knew they were the ones who needed to do the work.
“It is one thing to have a great coach who can see just what the student needs to do,” Wentworth explained, “but if the student does not following the guidance of the coach then the muscle does not get stronger. And so it is in the classroom. The teacher can help the student know what he needs to do to improve his skill in reading or mathematics, but if the student does not do the work, then there is not much improvement.”
Our eternal education is quite similar and the scriptures are replete with stories of “coaches” who have advised and guided and taught others how they might better their performance as they strive to become a disciple of Christ.
Wentworth also discussed the metaphors of education as a garden and as a family. For the full devotional, visit speeches.byu.edu or byutv.org.