Teaching Teenagers The Value of Knowledge

2010 March 17

I was laughing at myself because the day before I needed to teach a Sunday Lesson to the young women of my congregation, I was online searching Wikipedia for quotes about learning and knowledge… is that irony?

I started out my talk/lesson with these fairly well known math/physics formulas:

E=mc2

A2+b2=c2

∏r2= ?

V=u + at

F=ma

The older girls recognized most of them, maybe didn’t understand them, but had the basic idea. I was surprised to see the younger girls totally recognized the physics formulas? We talked a little bit about each one and what the symbols stood for.

I handed out a sheet with the Wikipedia quotes. I divided it into 6 different categories with quotes for each one.

  • Knowledge of Self
  • Experiential Knowledge
  • Secular Knowledge
  • Spiritual Knowledge
  • Worldly Knowledge Pop Culture | Current Events | Politics | Natural Disasters
  • Familial and Fraternal Knowledge

I asked the girls to read the quotes and then share with me which ones they liked the best and why? A couple I liked:

Knowledge of Self

“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.” – Lao Tzu

“We must learn our limits. We are all something, but none of us are everything.” – Blaise Pascal

What beauty in those statements… We talked about making any decision. Big or Small.

  • Choosing a candy bar amongst a giant wall of multiple varieties?
  • Going to college, what to study, where to attend?
  • Dividing your time wisely between school work, after school activities and down-time ‘hanging out’ with friends?

Knowing yourself first will help you learn to make decisions that will help you find happiness in the short and long term.

I KNOW I prefer chocolate and peanut butter in the same candy bar. So Yay for me! Helps me narrow my choice to one third of the candy bar aisle. Saving me time and increasing my overall enjoyment! (not to mention my waist)

Choosing which college was right for me was simple. I knew I wanted to study biology and affordability was a high priority. I was NOT cut out for BYU (wow that’s a whole blog post) and the University of Utah had a much better science department complete with the research I craved. Oh.. and a scholarship came through from the state school. No brainer. I knew myself and I knew where I was headed.

Worldly Knowledge

From the Bible:

“I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” –  John 17: 14-17

And from an Elder in the LDS church

“There is a familiar phrase (Mormons often use): to be in the world, but not of the world. Our mortal existence is necessary to fulfill the plan of salvation. We must therefore live in this world, but we must also resist the worldly influences that are ever before us.”

This concept is generally shoved down the girl’s throats, so we skimmed over it.
But it’s true isn’t it? It’s hard living IN this world; and so much harder not being OF the world.

Used by it.

Trampled by it.

Addicted to it.

Influenced by it.

Resisting the worldly influences that are ever before us is exhausting work. It’s amazing to watch young kids who get this and shine. Who refuse to let the so called norms of the world dictate their values. (And my 12 year old daughter is one of the youngest of this group, learning and absorbing all the truly fabulous examples from the older girls!)

After discussing some of the quotes and what they meant I wrote this on the board:

K x S = T + W

They quickly guessed K= knowledge… but I had to help them with the rest.

Here’s my thinking. Knowledge is great and all, but clearly what you DO with your knowledge will shape and define you as a person, especially as a spiritual person. In my equation S = SERVICE. I figure if you don’t give away your time and of your self and your knowledge in the form or serving others… what’s the point?

Since we are talking in terms of chemical reactions. The ‘stuff’ on the left is what you put INTO the reaction. The items on the right are what you get out for your effort. Your reactive “products”.

So what do you get when you fold knowledge and service into a young girl and you heat up the ‘reaction’ by supplying opportunities for both? In the form of babysitting a neighbor’s kids. Raking their grandma’s yard. Baking cookies for a friend who’s had a hard time… Helping them with homework, and supplying a strong expectation for them to do well in school and continue on to college.

T= Testimony

They will learn great lessons about giving and sharing and learning. Gaining understanding by giving away what they KNOW, will yield a strong belief in themselves and of those things they have learned. By sharing their time and their skills a seed of faith will grow.  Maybe they will gain a testimony of the love their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ already have for them.  Helping others quickly turns back and benefits them.

I added the W as an additional product. Kind of like a by-product absorbing all that excess energy produced when a young energetic kid combines knowledge with service. Any guesses what it stands for?

Wisdom

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4 Responses
  1. March 17, 2010

    Love this! What a great lesson and I love your equasion at the end!

  2. March 18, 2010

    OK, I did the feedburner and it’s working!! Yay!

    And this is a fun lesson. I would have loved it in YW!

    And when you say you are all over the fundraiser, does that mean you are donating 100 Snuggies?

  3. March 18, 2010

    Bravo, Carissa.

    Bravo.
    Twitter: 7clowncircus

  4. March 19, 2010

    This is spectacular post! I am going to save it 🙂 and tweet it and share it and everything it.
    Twitter: abitnerdy

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