Quotes on Learning

See also: D&C 18:34; 19:38; 90:15; 136:33; D&C 88:77-80; D&C 130:18-19; 88:23-30, 36-37; Proverbs 4:7

We ought to understand that we have espoused a system of religion that is calculated in its nature to increase within us wisdom and knowledge. . . . The whole idea of Mormonism is improvement – mentally, physically, morally, and spiritually.  No half-way education suffices for the Latter-day Saint. The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, pp. 26-27

Do not be discouraged because you cannot learn all at once; learn one thing at a time, learn it well, and treasure it up, then learn another truth and treasure that up, then learn another truth and treasure that up, and in a few years you will have a great store of useful knowledge which will not only be a great blessing to yourselves and your children, but to your fellow men. — G. Homer Durham, Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 269

            We learn….

                        10% of what we read

                        20% of what we hear

                        30% of what we see

                        50% of what we both see and hear

                        70% of what is discussed with others

                        80% of what we experience personally

                        95% of what we TEACH to someone else

— William Glasser

The extent of knowledge, incorporated within the salvation extended to the children of men, will vastly exceed the researches of the human family, and when they have passed the veil, they will then understand that they have but just commenced to learn.  Brother Morley says he never expects to be too old to learn; I believe that doctrine.  That which is to be learned in the eternities of the Gods pertains to life, and that life is exhibited to the human family in the degree which they are capacitated to receive it, that they may be taught as we teach our children, that they may learn the first rudiments of eternal lives.

Could we live to the age of Methuselah, and eat the fruits which the earth would produce in her strength, as did Adam and Eve before the transgression, and spend our lives in searching after the principles of eternal life, we would find, when one eternity had passed to us, that we had been but children thus far, babies just commencing to learn the things which pertains to the eternities of the Gods.

We might ask, when shall we cease to learn?  I will give you my opinion about it; never, never. — Brigham Young, Discourse in the Tabernacle, February 17, 1856; see JD, 3:202-203

Everybody is ignorant, only in different subjects. — Will Rogers

From time to time, a student might complain that a teacher has given a boring lesson, that the class is dull and not very interesting.

Before we place all the blame on the teacher, we should ask ourselves some questions, such as, “How could I have contributed to the class?  What could I have said when things dragged a little?  Could I have helped answer a question?  Was I exactly the same when I walked out as when I walked in?  What did I do that made a difference in the spiritual quality, in the scriptural reading, in the atmosphere in the room?  Did I open my scriptures to help out the teacher by finding a good source that changed the direction of the discussion and took the quality of the lesson up from there?  Where was my faith?  Where were my prayers this morning in class, or last night or last week as the teacher was preparing the lesson?”

We have not thought urgently enough about the responsibility a student bears in the learning process.  (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Learning Gospel Is Lifetime Pursuit,” Church News, March 24, 1990, p. 10) BYU Book of Mormon Conference, 14-16 August 2001, p. 33

There is a lesson that few members of the Church ever seem to learn.  The lesson is this:  We are not merely receptacles for the gospel; we are also conveyers of it.  This idea is so important.  (Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently, pp. 155-56) BYU Book of Mormon Conference, 14-16 August 2001, p. 34

Now, we come to Sabbath day work.  Your own inclinations might lead you to go out fishing on Sunday morning, but do you realize there is a duty you owe to your associates?  We are social beings.

While it is sweet to worship in the woods, and while it is pleasant to gout and admire the beauties of nature, there is one form of worship which must ever be kept in mind.  That is  the worship of the group – when each one should go to give and contribute to the welfare of the whole, not merely to receive, or, what is worse, to sit by and criticize those who are trying to give.  (David O. McKay, Treasures of Life, p. 220) BYU Book of Mormon Conference, 14-16 August 2001, p. 34

The more enlightened member of the Church goes to church in order to give, to give strength, to feed, to inspire, to help. . . . They sit in the congregation and pray intently for the speaker.  They find that as they do so in a sacrament meeting that the Lord will speak to them using that speaker, however weak he may be in his knowledge and understanding of the gospel, to open additional spiritual doors for the one seated praying.

The speaker, for example, may mention the concept of faith and give the most elemental description of what it is.  The faithful man in the audience is praying to help him, the speaker, and listening intently to what is said.  If he so does, the Lord will open up numerous other more profound ideas about faith to the one praying for instruction from the real source of all learning, namely the Lord.  (Dallin H. Oaks, Pure in heart, pp. 134-35) BYU Book of Mormon Conference, 14-16 August 2001, p. 34

I will seek to learn by what I:

  1. Hear
  2. See
  3. Feel

I will write down the things I learn and I will do them. — Elder Richard G. Scott

Education – particularly spiritual education – is constantly stressed by the Lord.  We cannot be saved in ignorance, but the Lord can reveal light and truth to us only as we are prepared to receive it.  And so it is incumbent upon each of us to do everything we can to increase our spiritual knowledge and understanding by studying the scriptures and the words of the living prophets.  When we read and study the revelations, the Spirit can confirm in our hearts the truth of what we are learning; in this way, the voice of the Lord speaks to each one of us.  As we ponder the teachings of the gospel and apply them in daily living, we become better prepared to receive additional light and truth.  Today, I hope we are prepared and eager to understand what President Gordon B. Hinckley is teaching us, for he, along with the other Apostles, will teach us how to cope and how to live in these troubled times. — Elder M. Russell Ballard, Ensign, May 1998, p. 32

Modern prophets have taught that secular learning should always be balanced with spiritual learning, and that spiritual learning is of a far more lasting value.  President J. Reuben Clark Jr. of the First Presidency said: “There is spiritual learning just as there is material learning, and the one without the other is not complete; yet, speaking for myself, if I could have only one sort of learning, that which I would take would be the learning of the spirit, because in the hereafter I shall have opportunity in the eternities which are to come to get the other, and without spiritual learning here my handicaps in the hereafter would be all but overwhelming” — Conference Report, April 1934, p. 94. Church News, June 4, 2005, p. 16

The religion embraced by the Latter-day Saints, if only slightly understood, prompts them to search diligently after knowledge.  There is no other people in existence more eager to see, hear, learn, and understand truth. Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 247

Elder John A. Widtsoe pointed out that “theology is not the only subject in which the Elders should be interested.  They should study:

“Things both in heaven – Astronomy.

“And in the earth – Everything pertaining to the cultivation of the soil.

“And under the earth – Mineralogy, geology, etc.

“Things which have been – History, in all its branches.

“Things which must shortly come to pass – Prophecies.

“Things which are at home and abroad – Domestic and foreign politics.

“Wars – perplexities – judgment – The signs of the times, by which the observer may know that the day of the Lord is at hand.

“A knowledge of countries and kingdoms – physical and political geography, languages, etc.

“These studies the Lord considers necessary. [D&C 88:80 quoted.] God does not require all His servants to become doctors, or professors, or even profound students of these subjects, but He expects them to know enough of these things to be able to magnify their callings as His ambassadors to the world.”  Priesthood and Church Government, pp. 55-56, Doctrine & Covenants Student Manual, p. 202

When the Lord in revelation invited us, yes, even commanded us, to “obtain a knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man, and all this for the salvation of Zion,” he set the broad parameters of the wonderful curriculum of this great and singular institution [BYU]. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “A Wonderful and Unique University,” October 11, 1988, p. 2

After quoting Proverbs 4:7, Theodore M. Burton, then Assistant to the Council of the Twelve Apostles, said: “We must feed the spirit as well as the mind and as well as the body. I plead with our youth, get learning, and with all your getting get understanding.  Get learning of the spirit. Get learning of the mind. Get learning of the soul, and become a rounded man or a rounded woman, learned in all ways, for I testify to you this day that security, true security, comes from a knowledge of the divinity of Jesus Christ. This is the beginning of all learning and of all wisdom. This is the greatest knowledge, the greatest learning, the greatest comfort that men can have. If men have this knowledge in their hearts, they can withstand all the vicissitudes of life.” — Conference Report, April 1961, p. 129, Old Testament Student Manual, 1 Kings – Malachi, p. 14

The revelations teach us that “the glory of God is intelligence” (D&C 93:36).  We typically may think the word intelligence in this scripture denotes innate cognitive ability or a particular gift for academic work. In this verse, however, one of the meanings of intelligence is the application of the knowledge we obtain for righteous purposes.  As President David O. McKay (1873–1970) taught, the learning “for which the Church stands – is the application of knowledge to the development of a noble and Godlike character.” — Elder David A. Bednar, “Learning to Love Learning,” Ensign, February 2010, p. 27

You who have unanswered questions (which all of us have); you who are torn between the teachings of contending teachers, who are confused by conflicting theories: Keep faith.  Reserve judgment.  Be patient.  God lives.  He is the source of all truth, and where there seem to be discrepancies it is simply because we do not know enough.  The theories of men change swiftly, but ”the glory of God is intelligence,” (D&C 93:36)  and there is no truth in all the universe that the Father of us all would not wish you to seek and to accept – for man cannot be “saved in ignorance.”  (D&C 131:6)  Keep an open mind and an open heart and a teachable spirit. “Seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” (D&C 88:118) — Elder Richard L. Evans, Conference Report, October 1954, p. 88

We want also to be alive in the cause of education.  We are commanded of the Lord to obtain knowledge, both by study and by faith, seeking it out of the best books.  And it becomes us to teach our children, and afford them instruction in every branch of education calculated to promote their welfare, leaving those false acquirements which tend to . . . lead away the mind and affection from the things of God. We want to compile the intelligence and literacy of this people in book-form, as well as in teaching and preaching; adopting all the good and useful books we can obtain; . . instead of doing as many of the world do, take the works of God, to try to prove that there is no God; we want to prove by God’s works that he does exist, that he lives and rules and holds us, as it were, in the hollow of his hand. — President John Taylor, Deseret News Weekly, 5 June 1878, p. 275

Those who possess absolute truths need fear no ancillary truth but should pursue learning vigorously, since learning is good so long as we “hearken unto the counsels of God.” (2 Ne. 9:29)  When education is thus pursued by our young today, they should be assured by all of us that they are “about” their “Father’s business,” (Luke 2:49) and be witnessed to; that when man has reached the small “periphery of the spider web of his own reason and logic,” he will find the ropes of revelation on which he can climb upward, forever! — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Conference Report, October 1970, pp. 94-98

The whole idea of Mormonism is improvement – mentally, physically, morally and spiritually. No half-way education suffices for the Latter-day Saint.  (“’Mormonism’ by Its Head,” The Land of Sunshine, Oct. 1901, 257) Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow, Chapter 1

Who is there, under the circumstances that exist around us, that is not growing? Who is there of us that is not learning something day by day?  Who is there of us that is not gaining experience as we pass along, and are attending to the duties of membership in the Church . . .?  It seems to me that it would be a very sad comment upon the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and her people to suppose for a moment that we are at a standstill, that we have ceased to grow, ceased to improve and to advance in the scale of intelligence, and in the faithful performance of duty in every condition in which we are placed as a people and as members of the Church of Christ.  Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, p. 317