Category Archives: hs philosophy

Independence Day: Have you celebrated it yet?

July 12, 2014
In recent years I have celebrated America’s Birthday by watching the movie 1776.  I watch it alone, in the early morning or when everyone else is at the fireworks.  Much of the language is objectionable.  My dvd (the 1972 G-rated version) has been edited to remove the inappropriate use of the Lord’s name, although there are still some other inappropriate things that have prevented me from inviting my family to watch it.  (The later version in which footage originally cut has been restored is rated PG and is longer.  It may be the only one available.)The characters are often incorrectly portrayed, of course, but the inaccuracies move me to study a little bit every year to get to know our Founders. This year I found a particularly good book (hiding in plain sight on my bookshelf) that tells the story of the Declaration and gives the biographies of the signers.  It is a reprint of an 1848 publication entitled The Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, by Benson Lossing, republished by David Barton at Wallbuilders.  I strongly recommend the book.The portrayals of John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin are what I love most about the movie; however, although far less literary license taken with them, what is taken may be much more egregious.  For instance, at one point shortly before the final vote we have this conversation, which appears on the 3-minute trailer:Dickinson: …why do you refer to King George as a tyrant?
Jefferson:  Because he is a tyrant.
Dickinson:  I remind you, Mr. Jefferson, that this “tyrant” is still your King.
Jefferson:  When a king becomes a tyrant he thereby breaks the contract binding his subjects to him.
Dickinson:  How so?
Jefferson:  By taking away their rights.
Dickinson: Rights that came from him in the first place.
Jefferson:  All except one – the right to be free comes from nature.

This conversation appears on the 3 minute trailer.

What does “comes from nature” mean?  The actual line in the Declaration is, “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” Apparently the writers wanted to leave God out of the story except when using His name as a pejorative.

What did the words “nature and nature’s God” mean to the Founders?  William Blackstone (1723-1780) explained:

  • As man depends absolutely upon his Maker for everything, it is necessary that he should in all points conform to his Maker’s will. This will of his Maker is called the law of nature. . . . This law of nature, being coeval [coexistent] with mankind and dictated by God Himself is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times; no human laws are of any validity if contrary to this. . . . The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law and they are to be found only in the Holy Scriptures [i.e., the “laws of nature’s God”]. . . . Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered [permitted] to contradict these.
When I went on Amazon today I discovered over 600 reviews of 1776.  I only read a few pages, but I found that many people watch this movie on the Forth of July.  I had thought I was the only one!  I also learned that nearly everyone in my small sample who commented was moved by the movie, most accepted it as a true representation, and only one mentioned that it was not necessarily accurate.  No wonder our country is so confused.  Storytelling is powerful, and this story is especially so.  Because I know that the Founders were inspired, religious men, I hadn’t realized that other people might not.This year I did attend the fireworks because we had family visiting from out of state.  A few days later Glenn Beck commented that he and others of his staff and audience had felt differently this year watching fireworks; something was missing.  His comments made me think about what I have felt in rcent years, and I can now put my own feelings into words:  After so many generations of false teaching of American history in our homes and schools, I don’t think most people know what we should be celebrating.  Maybe some are celebrating fireworks and possibly a vague idea of “free,” but not the Declaration of 1776 and all that goes with it.  How can we celebrate what we don’t know?  If we were to light candles on a decorated cake to celebrate the birthday of someone we’ve never met and isn’t present, would it be soul-satisfying?  Candles are fun, cake tastes good, but having nothing to connect us to a reason for the celebration makes the event shallow.Have you celebrated Independence Day yet?  If you watched the fireworks and came away feeling empty, or if you want to celebrate again, may I suggest that you watch President Hinckley’s 1997 Freedom Festival presentation, made available by Zion Tube, my favorite video resource.And then may I suggest that we all commit to learning our nation’s founding documents, history, and principles.  This is not just something nice to do; it is imperative if we want to save our country.  And it’s not just for homeschoolers; it’s for all Americans. We should teach our neighbors.  The time is short.

Someday we may have the privilege of meeting our nation’s founding patriots, and it might please them if we knew them accurately and appreciated their contributions.  We surely need their help now.

Celebrating the 4th of July should be a rich spiritual experience.  I don’t know whether 1776 should be part of your celebration, but try this closing scene, with my apologies for any bad words.

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Escape Common Core

May 26, 2014

Escape Common Core
by Joyce Kinmont

On Conference Saturday mornings, my husband and I attend a private breakfast meeting in Salt Lake to learn about current issues. For the most recent breakfast, I was invited to prepare a short talk on Common Core, which I titled “Escape Common Core.” My goal was to make every word count. I don’t know how well I achieved that goal, but after the presentation I moved the goal post and stopped counting words, references, and comments and ended up with more than 20 pages of information. It is now on the website, linked to the text explaining the video on the front page, center column. There is enough information there to keep folks busy for a while. It’s a Primer for learning three things: a) Our prophets have warned us that the schools are destroying our children, but we haven’t listened, b) the Lord wants us and our children to have a religious education but we haven’t listed, and c) the Church is giving us the pattern for teaching our children.

Here is the talk:

For the written script and notes, please go to our website. The website has two addresses, one that is shorter to type and one that is easier to remember or to tell people over the phone:

LDS Home Educators Assn website: http://www.ldshea.org or
Every Home a School: http://www.everyhomeaschool.org

What Manner of School Ought We to Have?

I was out driving one day and thought to turn my radio on just minutes before an hour break and just in time to hear the last question in an interview with Dr. Raymond Moody who speaks about near-death experiences. The questions was about the people who stayed on the other side for the longest amounts of time, and Dr. Moody said the thing they all talked about was seeing multitudes of people going into beautiful buildings of education.  They were excited about learning. Naturally I thought of the 24 temples in Joseph Smith’s plat plan for the New Jerusalem in Missouri.

What will a school in Zion be like?  Will it be like early American schools?  The Founders envisioned government encouraged education. The Northwest Ordinance, signed into law by George Washington, directed the circumstances under which new states to the west of the original thirteen would be admitted to the union.  The ordinance said, “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”  Land was set aside in the middle of each township for a school.  The schools were built and run locally.  Thomas Jefferson supported taxation.  He said, “Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [tyranny, oppression, etc.] and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.”

The reason the Founders wanted schools in every community was to protect our liberties.  How much of what is done in school today prepares students to protect their liberties? How much actually destroys “religion, morality, and [true] knowledge”?  Should we, then, restore the early American pattern of schools?  Should schools again be established under state constitutions, without federal involvement?  Should they be overseen and supported by taxation at the local community level rather than at the federal level?  Or might there be an even better way?

The Brigham Young Academy was founded in 1876 in Provo, Utah, 20 years before statehood and the adoption of “free” schools in Utah.  President Brigham Young called Carl Maeser to head the academy and told him not to teach “so much as the alphabet or the multiplications tables without the Spirit of God.”  The story was told by Terry Warner in a BYU Devotional address on November 11, 2008.  Brother Warner also established a permanent exhibit on the BYU campus as a tribute to the Academy and the great men and women who taught there.  The Academy was technically a high school, but I suspect the courses were more challenging and the students more mature in that day before the invention of “teenage.”  (Thanks to the new changes in our church, our teenage culture is changing.)

I first discovered Brother Warner’s Devotional a couple of years after he gave it, and wondered how anyone could watch it and not want such a school for their children.  I watched and read the devotional many times and visited the exhibit at BYU.  Now, three years later, I watched the talk again and it seemed quite different.  I heard things I didn’t remember hearing before and was so stunned by some of it that I downloaded the text again and compared it to the one I had saved in 2011, which was actually entitled “The Education of the Whole Soul.”  (The title is still the same on the print out, but on the BYU website it is listed as “The Lighters of Our Lamps.”).  The words are still the same!  I am amazed.  The only explanation I can see is that our situation has changed in the last year or two with the rapidity we see in Book of Mormon accounts.  Last night I attended a small meeting at which people spoke of having feelings that they need to start a private school.

If you’ve read Brother Warner’s devotional speech before, please read it again. It is very moving and quite sobering.  Whatever we do in education, we want to be on the path to that City of Zion.  Are there clues here about what that path might be.

We will be coming back to this topic soon to look at more schools.

For further study:

The American Founding Fathers, more Jefferson quotes:  http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/quotations-education

Terry Warner, “Lighters of our Lamps,” text, audio, and video
http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1813

Joyce

Technology and the Culture of Learning

September 2, 2013
Technology and the Culture of Learning

Recently in a Relief Society lesson we got onto the subject of technology.  Several sisters commented about people playing games on their phones in the midst of family gatherings.  One sister said she and her husband were on a dinner date and realized they were each immersed in their own technology while waiting to be served.  Another said her children were very unhappy when she required them to put away their devices while on a family vacation.  She put an audio book into the cd player and they complained again, but eventually they began to enjoy the book and would ask to hear it.

I thought about that a bit, realizing that the cd player is also technology.  In that rare situation the technology was under parental control, and by their action the parents changed the family culture, at least for a time, and blessed the children’s lives.

Then I remembered something from Elder Richard G. Scott’s April 2013 Conference message, which I had listened to that morning. He said:

  • You live in a world where technological advances occur at an astounding pace. It is difficult for many of my generation to keep up with the possibilities. Depending on how technology is used, these advances can be a blessing or a deterrent. Technology, when understood and used for righteous purposes, need not be a threat but rather an enhancement to spiritual communication.

Then the light went on: It’s not the technology, it’s the use of the technology!

Technology is similar to guns. Both are tools. Both operate at the touch of a finger, one more easily so than the other. Guns don’t jump up and shoot; they lie motionless until a human puts them to use either to kill or to protect.  Or to obtain food.  Or for recreation.  Taking guns from responsible people leaves the community without the benefits that the Lord and our Founding Fathers intended us to have, and that government’s job is to protect.

Likewise, technology lies motionless until it is put in a human hand. People often use technology to “kill” themselves and others, but responsible people use it bless lives.  Taking technology away leaves us without its benefits.

And just what are those benefits?  I submit that the Lord’s purpose in giving us these technological devices are to enhance our ability to learn and to communicate. I think He’s fine with a little bit of recreational use.  Here is more from Elder Scott:

  • For example, many of us have a personal electronic device that fits into our pocket. We are seldom without its company; we may refer to it many times a day. Unfortunately, these devices can be a source of filth and wasted time. But, used with discipline, this technology can be a tool of protection from the worst of society. Who could have imagined not very many years ago that the full standard works and years of general conference messages would fit into your pocket? Just having them in your pocket will not protect you, but studying, pondering, and listening to them during quiet moments of each day will enhance communication through the Spirit.

    Be wise in how you embrace technology. Mark important scriptures on your device and refer back to them frequently. If you young people would review a verse of scripture as often as some of you send text messages, you could soon have hundreds of passages of scripture memorized. Those passages would prove to be a powerful source of inspiration and guidance by the Holy Ghost in times of need.
Why is it that we don’t use our technology as Elder Scott suggests?  Many do, but I really think that most people simply haven’t thought of their devices as learning tools.  They play games because they have no conception of or connection to being lifetime learners. Can we do better?  Can we teach our children the correct use of technology?  Only if we as parents first develop a love of learning and the habit of using our devices as learning tools.

I did it right once, not too long ago.  I had been offered a good deal on a tablet, so I bought it and set up some expectations about how I would use it.  Soon a granddaughter came over for a short time while she was waiting for her parents.  She saw my tablet and asked to play a game.  Knowing that she was a horse lover, I asked if she had ever seen the Lipizzan horses.  She hadn’t heard of them, so we spent a delightful half hour on YouTube watching those beautiful animals working together in the arena. That time spent helped us each develop a tiny bit of our personal culture of lifetime learning.

Newborns and toddlers are curious, questioning learning machines, but somewhere along the line, usually in upper elementary school, that desire to learn is often lost and the questions stop.  Sometimes it seems the more schooling a person has the less likely he is to ever pick up a book just because he is hungry for knowledge.  I wonder if too much acted-upon, high pressure studying loaded on students over too many years leaves them with little experience in the joyful, unhurried, self-directed experience of learning with the Holy Ghost.

Once we reclaim our love of lifetime learning and we develop the habit of using technology as a learning tool as part of our personal culture, then we can work at building a family culture of lifetime learning.  Maybe we can make changes in the “architecture” of our home, arranging tables and books and wall hangings to invite learning.  Maybe we can upgrade our family dinner conversations, our tv viewing, and our Facebook postings.

For our children, the technology may require a “limited use permit” and an understanding of the word covenant as we teach them correct principles and help them practice governing themselves.  Our loving Father expects us to use His great gift of technology wisely to help us become more fit for the Zion society we are to be building.

So if bad things are happening, don’t blame the technology.  Blame the cultures — personal, family, community, school, political, etc.  Fix the ones we can and withdraw from the ones we can live without.

Surprise!  After failing to get this newsletter sent out on Saturday, I discovered today that the Church has made a request regarding the 2014 curriculum materials:

  • Before ordering, consider the following questions to help you avoid ordering more printed copies than needed:
    How many printed copies of each item does your unit already have available?
    How many teachers and members use digital versions of materials rather than printed copies?

A Core of Our Own: With Our Feet Firmly Planted by Joyce Kinmont

August 13, 1013

A Core of Our Own:  With Our Feet Firmly Planted
by Joyce Kinmont

As Latter-day Saints we are engaged in becoming worthy citizens in a Zion society, a society we have to build.  As a part of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, shouldn’t we return to the religious education that was originally understood by Joseph Smith and our early church leaders?

When I wrote a three part article for our website several years ago, I relied on Jack Monnett’s book, Revealed Educational Principles and the Public Schools for understanding and for quotes. I wondered if I dared to use a couple of quotes that included the word “infidelity.” Was the word too strong?  Would people be offended? How was it meant? I decided to use them.  Today I have no question; the word fits.

So let’s visit those quotes again, and some more.

When the legislature passed the Free Education Act of 1890 (and really, “Free” should be written in quotes because it isn’t free; it’s expensive!) President George Q. Cannon wrote in the Juvenile Instructor:

“It will be a great temptation to many people to send their children to the free schools that will now be supported by our taxes, but of what value is learning if it is acquired at the expense of faith.”  – Monnett, p.154

The gospel was not taught in the “free” schools.  The Saints didn’t seem to care.  So President Cannon tried again, in stronger language, in a later issue of the Juvenile Instructor:

There are parents who are very favorable to their children receiving education, but appear to be indifferent as to the character of the teaching which they receive. They do not seem to place any value on their children being taught the principles of their religion. Apparently, therefore, they would as soon their children be taught in schools or colleges where religion is entirely ignored as in an academy taught by Latter-day Saints . . . the Latter-day Saints have forsaken everything for their religion. They have been willing to die for it . . . how persons who have had these feelings concerning religion in their own case can be so careless as to expose their children to infidelity seems a great mystery. -p.161

If Christ is the bridegroom, then unfaithfulness to Him is infidelity.  But the Saints still did not respond.

One frustrated church school principal wrote to Brother Maeser, “We believe the Saints should say today as Israel of old, ‘God hath spoken, let Israel obey and patronize these schools and fill them to overflowing.” –p.155

The Saints heard plenty of counsel, even pleadings, from their leaders.  And the Church did everything possible to reduce tuitions and make obedience easier. But the Saints weren’t willing to make the sacrifices.

Jack points out that their choice was clear.  The Lord’s schools, or man’s.  Follow inspired leaders, or not.  For us the choice is clouded by years of compromise and by our having lived so long in Babylon.

Another friend of mine points out that the very purpose of the state schools was to destroy the Mormon religion.  So why would the Saints fall into that trap?  And why are we still there?

Had those early Saints, some of them the posterity of the pioneers, chosen what seemed at the time to be the hard road, would they have built Zion by now?

Instead they put their church leaders into the same quandary the Utah State School Board found themselves in:  Is it better to have a place at the table than to not have any influence at all?  It seems the School Board used that question as a justification for doing what they wanted to do – receive a “chunk of cash.”  From the taxpayers. (see previous article)  The Church, of course, looked to the Master for answers.  I’m sure there was much sadness.

Jack wrote that enrollment in church schools “peaked at about 10%. . . . Not only was this a sad commentary against the Saints, it was an embarrassment to their leaders. Their enemies, however, were elated.”

Commissioner Jacob Boreman, who had feared that the Mormons would blindly follow their leaders, reported:

These efforts of the Mormon Church are necessarily causing divisions among the membership of the church upon educational matters. This, however, is a healthful sign, as is every act which causes the people to think for themselves. It creates and develops individual independence. The outlook is indeed encouraging. – p.187

Jack wrote:

President Cannon had been one of the chief leaders of the church school movement.  As President Woodruff’s first counselor, he had worked hand and hand with the prophet to bring about a celestial education program that they and all the General Board agreed was a necessary step in creating Zion among the Saints.  When it became clear that church members were more comfortable with an education program “like all the nations,” (1 Sam 8:5) and were not willing to sacrifice or separate themselves from those around them, plans were made to once again work with Latter-day Saint youth in public schools.  It was awkward because the Brethren had been vocal about the differences of public and church education and had pointed out public school weaknesses. Previously, President Cannon had asked the Saints, “of what value is learning if it is acquired at the expense of faith?” He spoke to church educators and observed that “Although infidelity is not directly taught in the public schools, its spirit is fostered by the exclusion of religious education.

“In the summer of 1891, recognizing that a partnership had to be forged in order to continue teaching LDS youth, he said:

“The district schools must be patronized by the Latter-day Saints for many reasons; they are supported, to a large extent, by the taxes of the Latter-day Saints, and it would be well for the children to be trained in those schools at least up to their twelfth year; as it is supposed that this can be done without endangering their faith. Again, we have been accused of being opposed to education and the district school system, and we must not give our traducers the shadow of a foundation on which to rest their charges.” – Monnett, p 192-3

Jack continued:

Necessarily, the foe became the ally.  Competition that had at times been bitter now became friendly.  A new educational direction was given to the Saints. . . . Karl Maeser, who had once labeled public schools “godless,” said in 1898:  “By wise legislation it is provided, that the public schools shall be kept free from partisan politics, sectarian influences, and the inculcation of infidel theories.  These sound restrictions guarantee in some measure at least to the children of our people, a so-called common English education without the bias of sectarianism or the negative tendencies of atheism.” – p.193

In the 1890’s the Church did have a place at the table.  John Taylor was the first Superintendent of Schools.  Many teachers were LDS.  And society was basically moral.  By the 1990’s the Church had little influence.  And today?  Is there any reason to remain in the schools of our enemies?

Now It’s Our Turn
One of the most beautiful talks ever given about becoming Zion is Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s August 2012 CES address, “Israel, Israel, God Is Calling.”  He spoke of the many times when the Lord’s people had to flee:

For more than 4,000 years of covenantal history, this has been the pattern: Flee and seek. Run and settle. Escape Babylon. Build Zion’s protective walls.

Until now. Until tonight. Until this our day.

Our call is to build Zion where we are.

One of the many unique characteristics of our dispensation, this the dispensation of the fullness of times—the last and greatest of all dispensations—is the changing nature of how we establish the kingdom of God on earth. You see, one of the truly exciting things about this dispensation is that it is a time of mighty, accelerated change. And one thing that has changed is that the Church of God will never again flee.

In these last days, in this our dispensation, we would become mature enough to stop running. We would become mature enough to plant our feet and our families and our foundations in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people permanently. Zion would be everywhere—wherever the Church is. And with that change—one of the mighty changes of the last days—we no longer think of Zion as where we are going to live; we think of it as how we are going to live.

How are we going to live?  How are our children going to learn their gospel, their life mission and occupation, their family heritage, and their national heritage, all of which includes reading and writing and every truth about everything on this planet?  Is it time to pick up where the children of the pioneers stepped off the path?  Is it time to walk away from schools that were originally set up in Utah for the purpose of destroying the power of the Mormon church (and on the East Coast for similar reasons, including to make all immigrants “common.”

Do we want to be like Germany, as is the stated goal of the president and was the goal of Horace Mann in early Massachusetts?  Why do we put a bubble around government schools and release them from accountability to Biblical moral standards?  Why do we force our children to go where they aren’t safe and pretend what happens there is good for them — although we wouldn’t allow such things at home?

Elder Holland said:

In the 21st century we cannot flee any longer. We are going to have to fight for laws and circumstances and environments that allow the free exercise of religion and our franchise in it. That is one way we can tolerate being in Babylon but not of it.

Our children were born into our family, but not into a school classroom.  We do not need to “flee” the school system; we just need to stop choosing to send our children there.  If there are attempts to force us to do otherwise, they would be unrighteous dominion and unconstitutional.  

What “laws and circumstances and environments” will allow our children to have a religious education?  Elder Holland didn’t say anything about education, so we have to figure it out for our own families.  Are we willing to fight for our choice of “circumstances”?  I hope we are!

With our feet and our families and our foundation firmly planted!
Joyce

For Further Study:
Israel, Israel, God is Calling, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, CES Broadcast, 2012 Elder Holland didn’t talk about education, but he did talk about Zion behaviors we must learn, so please watch the talk!  
Not Commanded in All Things, Ezra Taft Benson of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, Conference Report, April 1965

Common Core: Our Destruction or Our Opportunity, Part 2c: What Happened?

July 16, 2013

Utah Homeschoolers
Special Meeting with LEGISLATORS

Sponsored by a Coalition of Parents and Legislators Opposed to Common Core Standards in Utah Schools 
This is an opportunity for citizens to express
their concerns about COMMON CORE! 

WEDNESDAY, July 17, 2013
5:30 – 8:00 pm
Hall of Governors, 1st Floor, Utah State Capitol

You will be allowed to speak to the Legislators who attend, if you want to. The time limit is 3 minutes.
Come early, parking in East and North lots

LDS-HEA is one of the sponsors of this meeting.


Common Core:
Our Destruction or Our Opportunity?
From a Latter-day Saint Perspective
Part 2c: What Happened?
by Joyce Kinmont

We have talked about Common Core–the standards, the curriculum, the testing, and the data mining.  We have seen that it is a complete takeover of education by the federal government and private businesses that are not accountable to citizens.  Decisions are all removed from the local level and from parents.  The eventual goal is the complete federal control of education, employment, and health care.  This cradle-to-grave, high tech, people-controlling program is any despot’s dream.

I didn’t write about the role and influence of David Coleman, the main designer of the Common Core standards and the President of the College Board, because I am still learning about him.  Here is short video that curls my toes.  Coleman makes it clear that he is one of the main writers of Common Core, and he talks about the importance of data collecting in the past presidential election.  I am studying his ideas about curriculum, some of which are good, and I will eventually share them.

I also haven’t talked about the pre-K program or sex education.   Watch for them.  For now, we’ll finish up here and move on next time to the good stuff about how we might homeschool.

What Happened?
As people are waking up to the Common Core nightmare, they are asking, “What happened to our education system?  How did it happen so quickly?”  It happened because for generations we have not taught our children the story and principles of America.  And it didn’t happen quickly; Satan has been working on this for a long time.  Forced attendance and mandated curriculum at the expense of liberty began with Horace Mann in Boston, long ago, and John Dewey after him.  Eventually all religion and Americanism was removed from the curriculum.

Prophets have warned that it only takes one generation of untaught youth to destroy the church.  The same is true of our country, and there have now been many generations who have not been taught Americanism.

Did we have warning signs?  Plenty.  If you don’t have The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, buy or borrow a copy and read the chapters on Education and Country.  You’ll be amazed at the warnings he gave us.  You can also find many of President Benson’s older addresses online.  Although President Benson is hailed as the chief defender of the Constitution, the same warnings were given to us by many of our leaders and for a very long time. (Once we became a worldwide church their direct messages about socialism and communism stopped, I assume to protect the Saints in communist countries; but we are still without excuse for our ignorance.)

All Saints and all Americans, had they been properly taught, would have known that Common Core was wrong at first sight, as Mitt Romney did.  He said:

 “I don’t subscribe to the idea of the federal government trying to push a common core on various states. It’s one thing to put it out as a model and let people adopt it as they will, but to financially reward states based upon accepting the federal government’s idea of a curriculum, I think, is a mistake. And the reason I say that is that there may be a time when the government has an agenda that it wants to promote.”

Exactly.  Of course the government has an agenda, and of course he knows all about it.  He was teaching the principle.  There should be no federal involvement in education because there is no Constitutional authority, and there is no Constitutional authority because the Founding Fathers knew education should be left under parental control.

Unfortunately too many Saints welcome federal involvement in education.  Too many teachers believe in the big-government system they work for.

President Benson was fond of quoting a statement from President Joseph F. Smith:

“There are at least three dangers that threaten the Church within, they are flattery of prominent men in the world, false educational ideas, and sexual impurity.” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939, pp. 312-13.) These three dangers are of greater concern today than when they were identified by President Smith.
– President Ezra Taft Benson, Valiant in the Testimony of Jesus, Ensign (CR), May 1982, p.62

Wouldn’t you say the first two apply?

President Benson warned us about the false ideas many times.  Today the Church is moving us forward in true teaching and learning methods that foster independent learning and the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Common Core is moving us completely backwards.  We have to learn to separate ourselves from the false ideas that are rampant in the public schools most church members support.  Again, read his Teachings.

For many years I wondered what the “flattery of prominent men in the world” really meant. What harm does a little flattery thrown around do?  But I also wondered what the word meant to President Smith who was born in 1838. I looked in the 1828 dictionary and found:

1. False praise; commendation bestowed for the purpose of gaining favor and influence, or to accomplish some purpose.

Apparently “flattery” was a stronger word at one time, and yes, it is a serious problem.  I believe it is simply adult peer pressure, which can be very serious.

The Book of Mormon uses the word “seduced.”  President Benson said,

Secret combinations flourished because, as Helaman tells us, the Gadianton robbers ‘had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils’ (Helaman 6:38)… even as today.”
– Ezra Taft Benson, The Savior’s Visit to America, Ensign, p. 4. May 1987.

“Even as today”?  And that was 1987!  If the more part succumbed then, how hard must it be now?  I have Helaman 6:38-40 marked in my book in two colors so I won’t forget it.  I used to think of the Gadiantons as desperados, riding down from the mountains on horseback. (I might have been influenced by one of my favorite movies, The Magnificent Seven.  All Jr. High boys should watch it for the message about the male role of protection.)  In recent years I have pictured the Gadiantons in suits and ties, carrying briefcases, with their hideouts not so much in the mountains as in corporate and government office buildings.

I don’t think we should underestimate the pressures good people are often put under in the world.  People have jobs and professional reputations to protect; they have families to feed.  It is no small thing for them to put their security at risk for principle, especially if they are led away first by a small thread until they are captured.  We all like to think we can stand up to anything, but most of us have a caving point.  Our challenges will come. Our goal should be to develop faith and courage to meet the challenges, and wisdom to meet them wisely and with the Holy Ghost by our side.

The Last Word on Common Core
This article is my last word for now, but here is a first word but that we’ve just gotten.  This short video was made by Alpine UT School District Board Member Wendy Hart who gives insight into how our educators got themselves entrapped at the very beginning.  This video is full of evidence against the people in Utah who bought in to Common Core and did it strictly for the money.  Apparently no one involved thought about the Constitutionality of a national curriculum.  They did think use an insulting remark about the Constitutional Convention as a lame excuse for control and a false argument to justify the lack of parental notification.  And they did succumb to the administration’s pressure tactic to get a quick signature on the Memo of Agreement.  It’s all disgusting.

Utah signed the Memo, and in 2010 all but a few state Governors and State Superintendents affixed their signatures to the Race to the Top application.  The standards hadn’t been published yet, nor had the curriculum or the testing.  They had no idea – and still don’t – what the costs would be.  Doesn’t all this seem highly irresponsible?

They were “flattered” and bribed in the hope of winning a pile of Race-to-the-Top stimulus money!   Yes, it was an “enter to win” lottery. “Sign the paper and we will put you in the drawing for a pot of gold.”  It was all about the money.

Sorry, Utah did not win one of the money pots.  Of course not; does Washington like us? Did we vote for any of them?  I’m sure the Devil had a hearty laugh.  They pulled this off so easily.

Why did so many professional people make such disgusting, unprincipled decisions?  What were Governor Perry of Texas and the other governors thinking when they refused to sign?  Where did they get the courage to resist the “flattery” of folks like Bill Gates and David Coleman?

And why, oh why did the Utah’s Governor and State Superintendent, both fine LDS men, sign all of the children of Utah over to the control of the federal government.  They never told the parents what was going on.  When people started waking up and speaking out in opposition, the State Board and the Governor’s office responded by digging in their heels, maintaining their support for Common Core, and refusing to talk about it anymore. At least that was the case a month ago.  Today the State Board – and they have been especially nasty — is meeting behind closed doors with the Legislature to tell them why Common Core is good.  Tomorrow the Legislature will take comments from the public.  This is happening because the number of angry citizens is growing.

How hard would it be at this point for our governor to admit he made a foolish, expensive, and dangerous mistake?  Will that happen?  I feel both disgust and sadness for those who have already sold their souls.

Parental control of education is a God-given right, Constitutionally protected, and certainly worth fighting for.  And fight we will.  We are fighting for our children.

Buyer’s Remorse 
The national Common Core requires that students read more informational texts, and that’s what we have all been doing for the last two months.  We will end here with two must-read informational texts.  The first gives us sufficient reason to get out of Common Core; the second gives us hope that we can (although we know Satan won’t go away so we’ll have to stay vigilant):

The first article, California Schools to Train Kids to Sell ObamaCare, tells us all we need to know about Common Core, or at least enough information to see how absolutely diabolical it is.  This is an article from Heartland, which has other articles you might want to read with your children, such as the one on Zimmerman

The Beginning of Common Core’s Trouble is an excellent article about our “buyer’s remorse” as the states consider backing out of what is being called ObamaCore.  Here are the first two paragraphs:

When President Obama unveiled his Race to the Top initiative in 2009, the idea was to award $4.35 billion in federal grant money to states to replicate policies that boosted student achievement.  That quickly changed and the federal money was instead used to persuade states to adopt administration-backed nationalized K-12 English and math standards and tests. By last year, most states had adopted the standards, known as Common Core, and it seemed a foregone conclusion that the United States would join countries like France in having a uniform curriculum.
 
But what a difference a year makes. Today, a full-blown epidemic of buyer’s remorse has taken hold. Popular resistance is rampant and bills to pull out of Common Core are making their way through multiple state legislatures.

Did you notice the paragraph in the first article that reads:

“Teens are part of a ‘pilot’ program to test whether young people can be trained as messengers to deliver outreach and limited education to family and friends in and around their homes,” said Gayle Pollard-Terry, a LAUSD spokesman, in an email. “Teens will be educating adults that they already know (e.g., family or friends) and not other adults.”

I found that almost eerie because it is exactly what I am going to suggest we do: study as a family and then help our teens teach America’s story to friends and others in their neighborhood.  Without the grant.  With the Holy Ghost.

Read Elder Callister’s talk from the Priesthood Session of General Conference and you’ll see what I mean.   Give me a couple of weeks, and I’ll be sending more info out.  I’m excited!

JK

Learning in the Lord’s Way: At the Start of a New Year

February 9, 2013

LEARNING IN THE LORD’S WAY:  At the Start of a New Year . . .

A new year has begun. The number itself – 2013 – feels unlucky. No surprise in a superstitious culture that builds hotels without 13th floors (a feat magically accomplished by numbering the floor above the 12th as 14 and pretending it is so).

In the Kingdom of God, 2013 is already a good year. It is the Year of the Youth. For a decade or more we have been watching our youth falling away in droves – not just in our church but in all churches. We were warned years ago that what we were then doing in our homes would not be sufficient. We tried, and some tried very hard, but the enemy got above us. This is the year things change as our youth “become converted to the gospel through learning and teaching in the Savior’s way.” This is the year they learn to exercise faith and do the hard mental work of being hungry, active, self-directed learners. This is the year the gospel moves from their heads to their hearts. This is the year they become mission oriented and step forward as an army of righteousness.

Of course these changes will require good training in the wards and stakes as well as teachers who are willing to change old thinking and old methods for new, inspired approaches. And of course there will be wonderful successes in some places and less success in others. Homeschoolers have an opportunity and a responsibility here. We have already experimented with force and freedom methods of learning. We already know how to do hard things, be self-directed, think outside the box, take risks, fail and try again; and we already know the pure joy of being in the presence of a child when the light of new learning fills his mind.

If you have a calling to work in the youth program, bless you! If not, remember in your prayers the of adults who have only known “acted upon” methods and now have to change their thinking.  Those of us who are blessed to attend Sunday School and Relief Society or Priesthood meetings can support the teachers as they learn to become facilitators. We do this by studying the lesson ahead, pondering the questions, bringing our manuals to class, and being prepared to help the Holy Ghost be the teacher.

The new program will invite positive changes in our church and family cultures. Are we willing to make those changes, whatever they may turn out to be? Will the adults be able to keep up with the youth? As homeschoolers, we know what joy awaits as every home becomes a school.

The History

Here is a very brief, and probably inaccurate, peek at recent history from my perspective:

In 1997 Elder Bednar, whose educational and professional background was in organizational communication and behavior, became the President of Rick’s College. In 2000 the college became BYUI. New buildings and a temple have been built, the student population has greatly increased, and a new Learning Model has been introduced.

In 2004 President Bednar said, “It should be obvious to all of us that something spiritually significant is taking place in Rexburg, Idaho.”  He also spoke of BYUI as a “Disciple Preparation Center.” Then he said, “Ultimately, the best Disciple Preparation Center is located within the walls of our own homes.” That concept made me feel that homeschoolers should connect our homeschooling efforts with BYUI in some way, that we should steer our own course toward their light. We couldn’t yet see that light; we just knew it was there.

Then last Christmas and again this Christmas, Elder Bednar published his wonderful books, Increase in Learning and Act In Doctrine. and the light became more visible to the whole church.

BYUI has also developed a program called Pathway in which students not on campus can attend two years of college at home, through their local Institute. A missionary couple is called to direct the program and the students meet together once a week. Pathway is now available in over 75 locations around the world. My daughter is in the only “Over Thirty” group in Utah, and she loves it.

In 2003 the Church held the first worldwide Leardership Training. In 2007 President Packer and Elder Holland presented the Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: Teaching andLearning. The video doesn’t seem to be on the church website anymore, but the text was published in the June 2007 Ensign as “Teaching and Learning in the Church.”

In 2004 changes were made in the General Sunday School. The Teacher Development position, which was disconnected and ineffective (I know; I once held that calling) was eliminated and the Sunday School Presidencies were given the responsibility of teacher training — and they’ve done a wonderful job.  In my stake the Sunday School Presidency is strong and effective and things are happening.

In 2004 the Missionary Department presented Preach My Gospel, a book and a program that revolutionized the mission field and probably made the lowering of the missionary age requirement possible.

A few years ago changes were made in how Seminary is taught.

Watching all these changes has been exciting, even though we see just the small pictures and have no real idea of the back-stories or what our Apostles do with the other 99% of their time.  And now we are making a giant move forward with the new youth program, “Come, Follow Me.” How blessed we are to be members of this church. Or, as an Institute teacher put it, what a Majestic God we have!

One Final Thought

I woke up in the middle of the night a couple of days ago and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to work on this article. As I typed “Come, Follow Me” something happened — my attention was drawn to the comma. The comma matters! A comma is a separator, a signal to pause. “Come Follow Me” without the comma is a simple command that can easily be said harshly or without feeling. If we respect the comma we must pause after “Come.” That forces us to say the title slowly and gently. “Come, . . . . Follow Me.” We hear the Savior’s voice!  It is an invitation.  We are commanded, but He will not force.  Lord, How is it that thou canst weep?  I gave unto them agency. All I want is that they love one another and choose me.  (see Moses 7:29,32-3)

His invitation is to our youth. They are His. Our job is to love and teach each other in His way in our callings and in our families. A little comma, the size of a mustard seed, perfectly explains how His Way feels.