The David O. McKay School of Education hosted the first annual LDS Educators Conference on July 15, 2017. Keynote speakers included Elder Tad R. Callister, Sunday School general president, and John S. Tanner, president of BYU–Hawaii, with other speakers who conducted workshops.
Tanner opened the conference by addressing the purpose and significance of the formation of the LDS Educators Association.
“LDS education is about shaping or molding individuals. Education in the Church is much less about transmitting information than it is about developing transformation,” Tanner said. “It’s about helping people become something, not just knowing things.”
Workshops at the conference covered a variety of topics concerning the relationship between attendants’ LDS covenants and their professional practice in education.
McKay School associate clinical professor Bryan Bowles covered the topic “Feeding the Shepherd,” where he focused his remarks on making sure teachers are making themselves a priority.
“The demands on today’s classroom teachers can be overwhelming. As teachers, our focus is often on everything and everyone except ourselves. We are rarely on our own priority list,” said Bowles. “Taking time [daily] to renew pays big dividends in happiness, energy, creativity, health, and spiritual renewal.”
Other McKay School faculty members also spoke at the conference. Professor Scott Ferrin spoke on the theme of “Religious Freedom Issues in U.S. Educational Settings.” Associate professor A. LeGrand Richards spoke on Karl G. Maeser and the lessons that can be learned from his life.
“Many know what a great contribution Brother Karl G. Maeser made to Church education, but not so many are aware of his role in helping the public school system in Utah,” Richards explained. “Brother Maeser was a great truth-seeker who helped pioneer both systems.”
Various professionals also presented at the conference, including child and public education advocate Mossi White, director of the BYU faculty center Alan Wilkins, and assistant to the commissioner of education and secretary to the LDS Church boards of education and trustees Mark Woodruff.
“I have visited schools in all 50 states and several foreign countries. I have seen both the worst and the best,” shared White. “In these challenging times, it is imperative that our children receive their education in the best of schools. We must not fail. Our futures depend on it.”
Wilkins spoke on how faculty members can strengthen their students both spiritually and intellectually. He said, “BYU’s mission and aims anticipate that faculty members will strengthen their students both spiritually and intellectually. How is it possible to do both?”
In connection with the recent announcement of BYU–Pathways Worldwide, Woodruff addressed his session on the increasing educational opportunities for all Church members. The global education initiative was started to help Church members “experience deep learning, done in the Lord’s way, in order to help members rise ‘to the full stature of [their] divine potential,’” said Woodruff.
Callister concluded the conference by discussing the importance of principles. He explained five key aspects of principles—they promote agency, are flexible and adaptable, are simple statements of truth, engender feelings of trust, and help us understand the “why” behind the commandment.
“Principles are eternal truths that are condensed and framed in such a way as to promote our maximum agency, thus making possible our maximum growth,” said Callister. “Principles tell us what we should do, but the Holy Ghost teaches us how to apply a principle in a given circumstance.”
Resources from the conference can be found at http://www.education.byu.edu/ldseducators.
Writer: Janine Swart
Contact: Cindy Glad (801) 422-1922
Photo Credit: McKay Creative