~by Heather L.

I always wanted to be a mother… and a detective, and a librarian, and a teacher. And I have always loved to learn!

From the time I was little, my mother was a great example to me of an educated woman – she completed her college degree even after getting married, and got her teaching certificate not too long after I started school. She loved to learn, and took every opportunity to do so, whether it was Friday night “Know Your Religion” classes or a “just because I want to learn” Hebrew class at a local college.

Reading was one of my favorite occupations, and I read voraciously growing up. I can remember my uncle getting frustrated because I was so absorbed in a book that I didn’t hear him calling me… again and again and again. I kept a dictionary in my desk at school that I would read during silent reading time if I didn’t have a novel. I really loved to learn!

Every subject in elementary and high school was exciting to some degree or another – science and dissecting a frog, math and puzzles, reading and writing, creating works of art, playing and appreciating music…. I was blessed with many great teachers who brought those subjects alive and made me want to learn more. Their excitement for learning set fire to mine, and motivated me toward furthering my education, both spiritual and temporal.

They taught as we are counseled in the Doctrine and Covenants 88:78-80, and helped prepare me for my mission in life:

78 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;
79 Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—
80 That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.

And college — college was like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet -– so many interesting choices, so much to learn, and so much to try! I found joy in geology, solace in singing, an outlet in art, the Spirit in the scriptures (I attended BYU, a Mormon university, so religion classes were part of the curriculum), and so much more. As a matter of fact, when I took a zoology class as part of my major requirements, I thought that if I could do it all over again, I might have chosen zoology as a major – it was like being that detective that I’d dreamed of becoming as a child!

In looking at this buffet, I felt much like Merlin the magician in T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, when he said:

“Look what a lot of things there are to learn…. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after you have exhausted a million lifetimes in biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics, why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your opponent at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics until it is time to learn to plough.”

I struggled with deciding what to major in – I loved science, and reading, and writing, and history, and math (thanks to a great professor!). How could I choose just one?

So I chose elementary education, to become the teacher I dreamed of being, until I met my husband, and became the mother I had wanted to be all along.

Then, learning became like a torch to be passed to my children’s eager young minds – reading books, going to museums and science centers, doing homework together, mastering technology, passing on my one-handed piano playing skills…. It has been a joy to be able to be at home sharing what I have learned, and watching them surpass me! It is a legacy that we can pass on, and that can last eternally:

Doctrine & Covenants 130:18-19

18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

Are Mormon women encouraged to be educated? Yes, at every turn, and in both the spiritual and the temporal!

On the spiritual side, we are encouraged to learn from the time we are young, attending everything from Primary classes, to Young Women and Personal Progress, to Seminary and Institute, Family Home Evening, and Relief Society classes. Personal and family study of the gospel and the scriptures is also a key part of being a Mormon woman.

On the temporal side, we are encouraged to be literate and educated, to prepare ourselves for careers, motherhood, and life in general. No effort to learn is wasted –- I have used what I have learned throughout my life in so many ways: at home, in the schools, in the community, at church — and feel that continuing to learn is one of the best investments in my life.

President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled Mormon women to “…educate your hands and your minds. You belong to a church which espouses education. To you young women may I suggest that you get all the education you can. Train yourselves to make a contribution to the society in which you will live. There is an essence of the divine in the improvement of the mind.”

Even as a mother of adult children, I am constantly learning – learning to use my latest cell phone to keep in touch with friends and family; learning to use computer programs to write blogs and make presentations; learning how to research my family history via the Internet and FamilySearch; and my favorite, learning more from the scriptures every day! As I continue to “seek… out of the best books words of wisdom” (Doctrine & Covenants 88:118) I am becoming the librarian I dreamed of being, too.

As Mormon women – as all women “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” it is continual education, — eternal education, life-blessing education. As we share what we learn with our families, friends, and communities, as we learn from one another, our intelligence expands, and together we can do amazing things!