David O. McKay fulfilled the role of teacher in several capacities including as a missionary, school teacher, administrator, Apostle, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and father. He is known for his contributions to education in and out of the church, which is perhaps the reason that the BYU school of education is named after this remarkable man.
As a young man, David had an unquenchable desire for learning, which eventually led to a career in education. He graduated from the Church’s Weber Stake Academy in Ogden, after which he became a principal of a community school. One year later he was enrolled at the University of Utah where he graduated in June of 1897 as class president and valedictorian. He served a two-year mission for the Church in Scotland.When he returned he was hired as a teacher at his childhood school and later was appointed the principal.
David O. McKay said, “True education seeks . . . to make men and women not only good mathematicians, proficient linguists, profound scientists, or brilliant literary lights, but also . . . men and women who prize truth, justice, wisdom, benevolence, and self-control as the choicest acquisitions of a successful life.”
He also said, “Education is an investment, not an expense. It can become an investment not only for time but also for eternity. ‘Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.’ (D&C 130:18.)” I think that everyday that we study at BYU it would be wise to apply President McKay’s teaching that education really is an investment for eternity.
In the book titled, “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay”, there is a chapter titled, “Teaching, a Noble Work”. President McKay said, “In God’s great garden have been placed overseers called teachers, and they are asked to nourish and to inspire God’s children.” He is speaking to us, as future educators and parents. We are asked to care for and teach the children of God and that is a great calling.
David O. McKay once said, “Character is the aim of true education; and science, history, and literature are but means used to accomplish the desired end.” I love this! We really do need to educate our minds, but he says that at the end of the school year, it’s character that is the most important. As future educators, we can each receive inspiration from David O. McKay’s life and devotion to education. How will you apply some of David O. McKay’s teachings to your future classroom or home?
See these links for more information about the life and teachings of David O. McKay: