Education and the Gospel

Quotes on Education By David O. McKay
Compiled by Karen Eddington

“. . . Do your utmost to develop in those young people a taste for the best in literature and in life.” – McKay, D. O. (1968). “Building souls into immortality–a teacher’s responsibility.” Instructor, 103, 213-215.

“The great obligation upon a teacher is to be prepared to teach. He cannot teach others that which he himself does not know. He cannot make his students feel what he does not feel himself. – McKay, L. R. (1957), Pathways to Happiness. SLC, UT: Bookcraft.

“There are three things which must guide all teachers: first get into the subject; second, get that subject into you; third, try to lead your pupils to get the subject into them–not pouring it into them, but leading them to see what you see, to know what you know, to feel what you feel.” – McKay, L. R. (1957), Pathways to Happiness. SLC, UT: Bookcraft.

“In an educational platform for the public schools (1952) this obligation is given first importance. The phases of education for which the schools have primary or chief responsibility include reading and writing, arithmetic, spelling, and the basic essentials of oral and written composition, the social studies (geography, history, and civics), and science. Reading is an important, primary responsibility of the schools. And equally important is the responsibility of the grade and the high schools to teach pupils to speak grammatically. The young man who said, `I hain’t studied no grammar, but I can talk just as good as them which has,’ would have been a more creditable citizen had he been a better representative of our school training.” – McKay, L. R. (1957), Pathways to Happiness. SLC, UT: Bookcraft.

“In preparation, the teacher should first study the lesson so thoroughly as to be able to visualize every detail without the aid of books or manuals. That lesson given in the manual was seen by the writer; but is it his lesson–or is it yours? It is not yours if you have to read it to the children. You read what is in the manual; then go to the source of that lesson and make it your own.” – McKay, D. O. (1968) “Building souls into immortality–a teacher’s responsibility.” Instructor, 103, 213-215.

“The teacher who knows her facts wins the confidence and respect of her pupils. It is surprising how quickly the child detects whether the teacher knows or does not know what she is attempting to teach. . . . But the fact remains that if the teacher knows what she is teaching, she is freer and less inhibited in her thoughts and expressions, and more composed in her attitude and demeanor.” – McKay, L. R. (1957), Pathways to Happiness. SLC, UT: Bookcraft.

“Students enter school primarily to gain economic or social advantage. But this aim is not always achieved, nor is it, nor should it be, the highest purpose of education. However, we must not underestimate the value of obtaining an education for a livelihood. Education for economic advancement is a good investment for the individual as well as for the State. The United States as a Nation is still young, but its brief history is replete with striking examples of the value of its free public school system even as a financial investment. . . .No, I do not in the least disparage this aim, nor criticize our public school system for planning to make possible its realization. But education for a livelihood is not the highest purpose of education. “The fallacious belief,” writes Dr. Robert M. Hutchins, Chancellor of the University of Chicago, “that education can in some way contribute to vocational and social success has done more than most things to disrupt American education. What education can do, and perhaps all it can do, is to produce a trained mind.” – McKay, D. O. (1951, June). “True education: the paramount purpose of a free people.” Address delivered at the commencement exercises, University of Utah.

“George E. Stoddard says that the aim of education is to develop a structure of thought and to improve human relations. A university is not a dictionary, a dispensary, nor is it a department store. It is more than a storehouse of knowledge and more than a community of scholars. University life is essentially an exercise in thinking, preparing and living. Without further comment, I give you this definition: The aim of education is to develop resources in the child that will contribute to his well being as long as life endures.” – McKay, D. O. (1952, October). Address to the Brigham Young University student body, Utah.

“Today, however, the customs and demands of society are such that the responsibility of training the child to live well is largely and in too many instances shifted from the parent to the teacher. In the ideal state, the teacher would be but the parent’s ally, training the mind and encouraging worthy habits and fostering noble traits of character inculcated by wise parental training and example. But in reality, the teacher, instead of being merely an ally, must become the foster-parent in training the child in the art of living. If that were all, his responsibility would be great enough. But it is not all. Often he faces even the greater of task of overcoming the false teaching and the vicious training of unwise, irresponsible parents. In the light of self-evident facts is it not apparent to every thinking mind that the noblest of all noble professions is that of teaching, that upon the effectiveness of that teaching hangs the destiny of nations? `All who have meditated upon the art of governing mankind,’ says Aristotle, `have been convinced that the fate of empires depends upon the education of youth.'” – McKay, D. O. (1953, September). Address given at Brigham Young University Faculty Workshop, UT.

“Like art music is the language of the soul. Isn’t it sad to have boy and girls grow up deaf to music. It is a means of expression which we all love. It is a shame if boys and girls come to school hungry for an avenue of an expression of the soul and cannot get it.” – McKay, D. O. (1927, May). Address given at Weber College for Music and Art Week, UT.

“The highest purpose of education is not just to teach facts, however important they may be, but to train the mind, to make good citizens, and to develop character.”

“So we may say that any education is better than none, but a free people to remain free must ever strive for the highest and best.”

“But gaining knowledge is one thing, and applying it is another. Wisdom is the right application of knowledge to the development of a noble and Godlike character. A man may possess a profound knowledge of history and of mathematics; he may be an authority in physiology, biology, or astronomy. He may know all about whatever has been discovered pertaining to general and natural science, but if he has not, with this knowledge, that nobility of soul which prompts him to deal justly with his fellow men, to practice virtue and honesty in personal life, he is not a truly educated man.”

“Character is the aim of true education; and science, history, and literature are but means used to accomplish this desired end. Character is not the result of chance, but of continuous right thinking, and right acting. True education seeks to make men and women not only good mathematicians, proficient linguists, profound scientists, or brilliant literary lights, but also, honest men, with virtue, temperance, and brotherly love. It seeks to make men and women who prize truth, justice, wisdom, benevolence, and self-control as the choicest acquisitions of a successful life.” (Gospel Ideals, pp. 440-441)