What do you think of when you hear this word: EDUCATION? Many people equate education with degrees. I once heard it defined as simply, "the training of the body and the mind." Anyone can do that, whether given the opportunity for degrees or not. In Proverbs we read that the "wise man is strong; yea a man of kowledge increaseth strength" (24:5). My definition of education is simply this: EXPERIENCE. I believe we all have the potential to be educated through the experiences we all have in life if we take and internalize what we learn along the way. How can we be sure to do just that?
Education: The Desire to Learn
The first step to becoming educated is that we need to have the desire to learn. To learn means to change. We must all be willing to change in accordance to the things that we learn. Think about it, if you want to be a better cook you learn a new recipe or take a class. This learning changes not only the way you cook, but you now have the confidence to become a better cook. If you want to understand Shakespeare, you read his writing and learn how to decipher literature. This learning thus leads to a change in how you read other works of literature. Learning changes you. Be willing to accept that change.
EXperiment Upon the Word
Scripture or gospel study is vital for learning. I have a friend who recently increased her time in the scriptures. Of this she said, "I have thought about what you said about studying scriptures for an hour. I was doing just a few minutes then moving on to 'learning books.' This past week I have been spending up to an hour in conf talks or scriptures and I have seen a difference. I am calmer. More able to absorb the 'learning' stuff." Putting God first in our lives helps us to see the lessons in life He needs us to learn.
Connie Sokol once said something that really struck me. She said, "I'm not worried about working mothers so much as I am about the stay-at-home mothers who are mentally not there." She was talking about how we need to participate in life, in general. Getting involved increases your educaiton. Whether it's through PTA at school, organizing a homeschool group, doing mommy-swap preschools, scouting or becoming politically involved in your community. The experiences you have increase your education in teaching, leadership, and simple life skills.
Education from Classes Near You
Most areas have a college of some sort where you can take classes. Take a class. For a less expensive option, one thing I've enjoyed participating in are the classes offered by the Community Center in our area. There are many choices and options here. Fitting them into your schedule is the tricky part!
Read! Read! Read!
I can't say enough about reading! I have told many people that I am happiest as a mother when I've got a good book in my hand! Some people may feel guilty taking time to read when there are so many other things that "need" to be done. It's true, we do need to take care of our responsibilities. However, reading not only gives your mind some nourishing food, it also sets the example for your children to dive into learning themselves. Plus, there are many way to read daily. It is not uncommon for us to have a book on CD in the car for our trips around town. Reading can be a pleasure hobby or it can be the one way you choose to learn new things. Either way, reading is inspiring and increases your educaiton.
The internet has opened up so many options for us! With the internet, it's almost impossible NOT to learn. Even if it's just learning how to maneuver through websites or create your own blog. :-) Through the internet we can keep up on current events more easily, we can search any topic of interest (but be sure it's from a good source), we can listen to good and uplifting speeches and music. The possibililties are endless, just use it wisely.
Education of Heart & Spirit
By this I mean having good social groups for you and your family. I have participated in a couple of books groups that have strengthened me. I have done mommy preschools and park play days. Women need friends! That's all there is to it. If we are surrounding ourselves with great people, we will only want to elevate ourselves. "Ead day we are increasingly aware of the fact that life is more than science and mathematics, more than history and literature. There is need for another education without which the substance of our secular learning may lead only to our destruction. I refer to the educaiton of the heart, of the conscience, of the character, of the spirit - - these indefinable aspects of our personalities which determine so certainly what we are and what we do in our relationships one with another (Hinckley)."
Need to Serve
How do we become educated by serving others? Remember, to learn is to change. As we serve our fellowmen and love our neighbors, we learn the most important lesson of all. We learn how to become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ. Getting outside of ourselves increases our abilities to learn and to grow. Another aspect of this principle is that as we learn more, we are better able to serve.
Children: Learning with Them
We have been encouraged to create an atmosphere of learning for our children. This the my favorite part of learning! Confession: I did not like to read children's books and rarely read them to my children until my oldest was 5 years old. Homeschooling did that to me! I became suddenly aware of the amazing lessons in those books. Watching the example of my children in their learning increases my desires to be more fascinated with the process of learning. Kids get so excited about the smalles things: rolly pollies in the garden, bubbles, getting their hands messy in their latest art project, and more. Create a learning environment in your home and you can't help but learn yourself! As another note, you can't help but learn when your kids ask those "hard" questions, like "Why is the sky blue?" :-)
Enjoy living. Enjoy YOUR life. Enjoy your own hobbies. Children are great, and they need much of our time. But we cannot forget ourselves in the process. One thing I do regret in my life is that I didn't take more "fun" classes in college. To this day I still want to learn calligraphy. Discover something you love to do and make time for it in your life. Enjoy the cultural arts. Find out what plays and musical performances are coming to your area and attend them. Take your children or go alone! So much enrichment can be added to our education.
EDUCATION is EXPERIENCE! What kinds of excperiences are you having in your life? Make them count. Everything you do now is preparing you for something else. Our spirits yearn to learn, to grow and to change. I will close with words from Abigail Adams, once our first lady, "When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the Heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant, wake into Life, and form the Character of the Hero and the Statesman (Wisdom of John and Abigail Adams, R.B. Bernsetin)."