Latter-day Saints love to learn, both “by study and by faith.” With a new year ahead of us, we may be considering how we will learn this year. Dean Brigitte Madrian of the Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business joined the All In podcast to share what she’s learned about lifelong learning from her time in higher education. Her gospel-centered thoughts on learning are easy for anyone to apply and will motivate you to engage with what interests you.
Working as a faculty member at the Harvard Kennedy School, contributing as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and serving as co-director of the NBER Household Finance working group are just a few of the many accolades that make Dean Madrian the perfect person to discuss learning with.
Learning is a spiritually rich experience with deep gospel roots. The restoration of the gospel was brought about by an honest question from a young boy. His question, “Which church should I join?” sparked a new era of gospel truth. Joseph continued to question, learn, and grow as he restored the Church.
Dean Madrian points out the importance of his continued learning: “If you look at the Doctrine and Covenants, a lot of what is in there is coming as the result of an answer to a question.” Those revelations influenced the Church. Similarly, we can receive revelation to influence our lives when we continue learning and asking questions.
“If we really believe the doctrine of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, that we can become like God and someday create worlds without end, we have a lot to learn,” Dean Madrian says.
But learning doesn’t have to revolve around gospel topics to be spiritually fulfilling. Simply fostering an environment where the Spirit is welcome can enhance our study of any topic.
“We want the Holy Ghost to be in the classroom because the Holy Ghost teaches us and testifies of truth, all truth, not just the truth that’s in the scriptures,” Dean Madrian says. “All truth, the truths about running a business, truths about being a good leader, truths about LIFO accounting, whatever the truths are, the Holy Ghost can testify of truth.”
So where do we start in our pursuit of truth? Perhaps by exploring the topics that interest us. It’s been proven that if you are interested in the topic, you’ll be able to learn it more easily.
Dean Madrian explains that part of the reason why it is easier to learn about our interests is because we find answers to the questions we have, even if we are not consciously aware of those questions. That process of finding answers can be deeply satisfying. Once you’ve decided on a topic, Dean Madrian suggests asking deep questions about your topic. In her 1989 commencement speech at BYU, she discussed the importance of asking the right questions.
“Perhaps we have not yet transformed the world around us. But with the questions that have been stimulated by our careful preparation here at BYU, and the questions that will arise as we confront the world that lies before us, we have the seeds of discovery within us,” she said.
Questions fuel discovery, and Heavenly Father uses questions to teach and share revelation.
“Why doesn’t He just tell us what He wants us to know? ... Because unless we are asking the right questions, we are not going to recognize the answer. ... If we’re going to make progress in life, it’s all about asking questions,” Dean Madrian says.
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How you plan to learn depends on your situation. While Dean Madrian gave her support for traditional education and the value it provides, she acknowledged that the way we learn is changing. Audiobooks (a personal favorite method for Dean Madrian), YouTube tutorials, community center classes, and remote learning all offer the chance to become more educated in a way that fits the circumstances of the individual.
Education doesn’t have to be limited to either a physical place or a specific time. Dean Madrian gave a rally for everyone to discover how they can continue their education.
“There are lots of ways to learn, [and] I think learning is how we keep our minds agile,” she says. “Our Heavenly Father wants us to keep on learning and progressing. I’m encouraging [you] to find something that [you’re] excited to learn about and find a way that matches [your] learning style and the time that [you] have available at this point in [your] lives and learn some new things.”
Find the All In podcast on all major streaming platforms, at ldsliving.com/allin, or in the player below.