Below is the text of Hugh Nibley’s classic 1970 essay “Educating the Saints” (copied from this online source, with fair use in mind), including my notes on what we can learn from it, as teachers and students, about education. I submit that, though Nibley was writing for and about Mormons, this is the best work of fundamental values in public education ever written, and should be required reading for anyone who would be a good teacher, in any capacity.
I’ve put in bold the segments of Nibley’s text that seem particularly pertinent and powerful, followed by my 21 notes in brackets and italics. My notes are meant to interpret the ideas in the essay into general classroom policies and strategies. Looking back on these notes about a decade after I made them, when I was still a new teacher, I’m pleased to see that my work has largely been consistent with the ideas here, as I understand them.
Nibley uses Brigham Young as his model for effective education techniques, and well he should: Young took thouands of poor, illiterate, disparate immigrants and made them the foundation of a society whose descendants are disproportionately well-educated. Though one would benefit from simply perusing the bold and italicized sections, reading this whole essay would be valuable to anyone; reading it from my source will also allow you to enjoy Nibley’s 200 footnotes!