Sunday, July 20, 2008

Learning by Heart

Susan W. Tanner spoke at the BYU-Idaho graduation ceremony last December and gave a wonderful speech about learning things by heart. I have to admit that I am not a big fan of memorization--maybe I burned out on memorizing after all those years of college. But after reading this I am going to work with my children this week on memorizing a scripture.

Here are two great excerpts from Sister Tanner's speech:

"I have learned that there are many benefits to memorizing. For me, personally, it deepens my understanding of the passage and fixes it in my heart. As you go over and over a passage in your mind, you think about it again and again. The richness of the words, the way they are put together, the possible symbolisms, the clever use of literary devices, and new meanings that you may never have noticed or understood before—all become apparent in the process of memorizing. Memorizing can put words in our hearts as well as in our minds. Learning by heart—which may be somewhat of a dying tradition—means to learn something so deeply that it becomes part of our core: it fills us; it changes us…

"Learning by heart is a rich phrase. Think about the word heart. We all know that our hearts are central to life. Physically the heart is the life-sustaining organ of our bodies. Likewise, heart is used to describe the essential, most vital part of our spiritual being—one’s innermost character, feelings, or inclinations. In a gospel sense the heart is our spiritual core. Hence the scriptures teach that “as [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7; emphasis added) and that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21; emphasis added). The gospel must be “written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Corinthians 3:3; emphasis added). Over and over in the scriptures prophets remind us, as Alma told his son, to “let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever” (Alma 37:36; emphasis added). Learning by heart in its richest sense is a gospel duty. It is a twin commandment to remembering. We are to learn spiritual truth by heart and then retain in remembrance what we have placed deep in our hearts."

Do you want to play along? Here are five easy (i.e., short) scriptures that are worth memorizing:

Amos 3:7
Matthew 7:7
2 Nephi 2:25
D&C 8:2
Moses 1:39

How can you help your kids memorize something? 1. Try making a sign or poster of the scripture and gradually cover up some of the words during the week. 2. Try singing the words to a nursery rhyme tune or Primary song tune. 3. Try using small rewards for motivation. 4. Be positive in all your comments; if you start to get frustrated with the lack of progress of your children, move on to a different activity and come back to the memorization later in the day. 5. Repetition is a key to learning! Review the verse at each meal or several times during the day. Once a child has a verse memorized, have them present it at FHE.

Good luck!

Scripture of the Day: 2 Corinthians 3:17 (another short one worth memorizing! :-)

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