Learning habits, habits of mind and heart

In every discipline, knowledge is generated through a communal process. This requires habits of mind and heart that allow us to interact openly and honestly with other knowers and with the subject to be known – such habits as a capacity to care about the process, the willingness to get involved, the humility to listen, the strength to speak our truth, the willingness to change our minds. The more closely a pedagogy can emulate this communal process, cultivating these habits of mind and heart as it goes along, the deeper the learning will go.

Parker Palmer (2005)




Overcoming our educational weaknesses

Too often we dwell in the comfort of our educational strengths and avoid overcoming our educational weaknesses. Thus our greatest strengths can become our greatest weaknesses. We may dwell in the security of the past, unwilling to venture into the future because of the fear of ignorance or the lack of knowledge about a subject we desire to study or to research. We need the courage to take a long step of faith into a fearful darkness, not knowing how deep the educational cave is that we are about to enter.

Lifelong learners acquire an inordinate degree of patience in their quest for learning. They understand through their diligent search for learning that it takes a great deal of energy and a great deal of time to find pure knowledge.

Robert D. Hales, “The Journey of Lifelong Learning,” BYU Devotional, August 19, 2008

Faculty must give their students an assurance they are God’s children

Our concern is for the whole student—his spiritual as well as his academic development, and the way he lives as much as what he studies.

I have often told the BYU faculty, “If you have come here only to teach Greek or nuclear physics, and you do not give your students an assurance that they are God’s children, that they have a divine purpose for being here, and that they are to be engaged in a life of service, you will have failed as a teacher and we will have failed as an institution.”

Ernest L. Wilkinson, “Brigham Young University,” Ensign, May 1971

Giving yourself to knowledge

“Knowledge will not give part of itself to you until you give all of yourself to it.”

Ibn Jama’ah, “A Memorandum for Listeners and Lecturers: Rules of Conduct for the Learned and the Learning,” in Classical Foundations of Islamic Educational Thought, Bradley J. Cook, editor, Brigham Young University Press, p. 178.

Badr al Din Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn S’ad Allah Ibn Jama’ah was born in 639 A.H. (1241 A.D.) in northern Syria. He died at Cairo in the year 733 A.H. (1332 A.D.), aged 94.

Helping students learn who they really are

My guess is that what matters most, as you and I try to help our students, will not be so much whether they master a particular subject or pass our exam. That will matter some, but what will matter most is what they learn from us about who they really are and what they can really become. My guess is that they won’t learn it so much from lectures. They will get it from feelings of who you are, who you think they are, and what you think they might become.

Henry B. Eyring, “Teaching Is a Moral Act,” BYU Annual University Conference, 27 August 1991