Sunday, January 17, 2010


There has been a lot of emphasis on education by the prophets these days.  I remember President Hinckley admonishing the young men to seek out an education, to get as much as you can.  It's one of the few things that we can go in debt in order to obtain it. However, it never really occurred to me until this week that there is a hierarchy in education, meaning that there are some subjects that are better to know about than others.  I guess this makes sense, taking Elder Oaks' talk "Good, Better, Best" into account.  Gospel learning trumps all other type of learning, of course, but what's more important: science, music, art, or English?

What caused me to think about all this is a speech given by David McCullough (the guy who wrote 1776 and John Adams).  His speech is called "The Course of Human Events" and I got it on audio book from the Provo library.  I love listening to audio books while at work.  I feel like I'm using my time so effectively when I do. Anyway, at one point during his speech about the importance of education, David McCullough quotes John Adams saying this:
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."
So, according to John Adams, studying porcelain should be the aspiration of any student.  Wait, I take that back.  Having the freedom to study porcelain should be aspiration of any society. I don't think that any subject is inherently better than another, but I think the freedom to study subjects that aren't crucial for survival is important.  Some subjects enhance the human experience, while others simply provide the framework so that the enhancing can take place.


Kathy Haynie said...

You could have earned major mother-in-law points by saying that "English" is the most important subject, but it's too late now...oh, well--next time, right? :)

Education is only about making choices to pay attention to something, whether that means paying attention in class, or paying attention every day we go through life. By the end of the day, by the end of the week, by the end of our lives, we know more about something than we did before. Will it be English? Engineering? ESPN?

I often wonder if (hope that) I'm making the best choices about what to spend my time on--ie, be educated about--on a daily basis. Days add up, and then they're gone.

Sorry this comment is so long and rambly. PS - One time I commented to your brother that he ought to make more exciting titles to his posts. Ditto to you for this one. :) But I loved the content once I started reading it. Oops, I'm rambling again!

Katie said...

I think this is true. And thank goodness we don't ALL feel that great aspiration to study porcelain. Pottery is fun, but my sewing machine fits in our apartment much more easily than a kiln would.