Education Week at BYU

Mormons from all over the U.S. come to BYU the last part of August to get some education. Speakers are approved, and classes offered in everything from ancient scripture to advanced scrapbook techniques.

So, a few minutes ago, my husband and I had the kind of date people our age have: We went together to the vending machines, and he paid for my sandwich. As we were heading there, a woman wearing the Ed. Week identification necklace asked, “Are you going to the infinite atonement?”

Bruce said, “No, we’re just going to the vending machines.”

Of course, I chided him immediately. “I can’t believe you said that. That’s like a scene out of Man’s Search for Happiness where the lady chooses the doll instead of eternal life.”

Bruce said, “But we can’t go to the infinite atonement. It comes to us.”

“Then that’s what you should have said.”

Just for fun, how might you answer such a question? Or the “Have you been saved?” question?


  1. I don’t know, but I hope I’d be able to come up with some kind of witty allusion to Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox.

  2. I was walking around the scrapbooking classes and was happy to notice that they believe in truth in advertising.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    I’ve signed up for BYU’s distance learning program to get my degree in Scrapbooking.

    I would have said, “No, we’re going to the Moral Atonement.”

    I hate to admit this, but I’ve always sort of wanted to try out Education Week. I loved my time at BYU, and it seems like I could kind of pretend I was a student again. But between FAIR and Sunstone the previous two weeks that’s just more time off then I can justify. Plus, I understand that you have to plan way in advance to get decent lodging.

    Margaret, don’t you flee Provo for Education Week, sort of like some people in the host city flee for the Olympics?

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    “No, we’re going to the gay dog-handling theology class. It’s called Cur Deus Homo.”

  5. Oh Kevin, so good!!!
    I used to go to Education Week. I grew up in Provo, remember, so that was just something I did during the summers. But then I married Bruce Young. Living with him, listening to his lovely lectures at bedtime (about Levinas, Heidigger, C.S. Lewis, religion, etc.), was non-stop Education Week. I went ONCE after my marriage and realized that Bruce knew way more than the teacher. Haven’t gone since. (I should mention that Bruce does not do scrapbooking, so I am missing out there.)

    No, we Provoans don’t flee. We fleece. Sell stuff. Do bazaars. Bake sales. If the documentary were finished, I’d have a stand set up just outside Brick Oven. Pizza AND Black Mormons.

  6. “Is that chair saved?”

    “No, but we’re praying for it.”

  7. I have to admit that while I keep hearing things about education week, I’m not really sure that I actually know what it is. I even went to BYU. Is it a CES sponsored thing?

    Unfortunately, no witticisms here.

  8. Education Week starts on a Monday with a day of intensive classes, usually on parenting and sometimes on sex (referred to as intimacy). The other days are divided into youth and adult classes. Teens can hear John Bytheway, Brad Wilcox and the other EFY speakers motivate them to be chaste and make good friends, while adults can hear speakers like Whazzisname Ludlow talk about Isaiah and Daryl Hoole talk about organizing one’s kitchen and the importance of wearing make-up. (“Even a barn looks better when it’s painted.”)

    I hope I don’t sound condescending. The classes fill a need, and I really did enjoy those I attended prior to my marriage to my brilliant husband, who can run circles around anyone talking about Isaiah, and who doesn’t care if I’m painted or not. It is a week of real fulfillment for many, particularly seniors. Parking lots fill up with RVs, and the campus is very smiley. Sorry I didn’t define it better. I assumed everyone knew what it was. But we Provoans assume a lot.

  9. Here’s this year’s program (pdf)

    Click to access catalog2008.pdf

    It’s not too late!

  10. Here’s a sampling of classes offered this week:

    Becoming a Better Parent. 20
    Becoming a Confident Woman. 37
    Becoming a Woman of Destiny. 32
    Being Enough, Knowing Enough, Doing Enough. 19
    Breaking Barriers by Filling Our Homes with the Irresistible Light of Love . 22
    Building Relationships That Last for a Lifetime or Longer. 27
    Calming the Storms within and Progressing toward Happiness . 23
    Christ-Centered Healing from Depression and Low Self-Worth. 22
    Coping with the Death of a Loved One. 13
    Creating a Gospel-Centered Family Life: How to Effectively Deal with Everyday Problems within a Family Setting. 24
    Creating an Organized Family-Friendly Home. 22
    Differing Communication Needs—Are Others Receiving the Message You Intended to Send? . 23
    Doing the Best You Can—a Little Bit Better (Women). 30
    Drawing on the Powers of Heaven to Realize Your Righteous Desires. 32
    Essentials of Personal and Family Healthy Lifestyles—An LDS Perspective. 22
    Finding a Joyful Life after Divorce. 38
    For the Strength of Parents: Helping Our Teens Follow Prophets . 31
    Healing Deeply Wounded Families—The Atonement Is Greater Than the Shame . 32
    Home Organization: The Better Way to Live. 12, 24, 26
    Increasing Personal Effectiveness: Living Happier, More Productive Lives . 37
    Of One Heart and Mind: The Art of Effective Communication. 39
    Our Search for Wholeness . 20
    Overworked and Overwhelmed . 12
    Parenting Like the Perfect Parent: Bringing Up Our Children in Light and Truth . 29
    Personal Development Using the Lord’s Sure Principles. 31
    The Power of the Word to Cleanse, Change, Edify, and Unite—Blessings for Individuals and Families . 23
    Protecting the Home and Saving the Family. 40
    Raising Stripling Warriors in the Latter-Day War Years! . 26
    Rebellion—Fortifying Our Youth, Reclaiming Our Prodigals.

  11. It’s BYU Continuing Education, J., and has been running for decades — see here. Besides the frilly things Margaret lists in her, um, not condescending comment, there are classes on literature and history and computers and, over the years, just about every conceivable academic, personal enrichment, or gospel topic. A lot of people, especially 50+, build their vacations around Campus Ed Week because they don’t have much of a chance during the year to have a serious conversation or class in their home communities. Most of us only have to imagine our church lives without our internet conversations to understand the need a lot of adults feel for this kind of intellectual stimulation.

  12. Fascinating.

  13. My reference to Margaret’s “frilly” comment was to #8, before #9 was written.

  14. You’re right, Ardis. I did sound condescending. I really loved many of the classes I attended as a young person (meaning into my twenties), and I know that seniors in particular are enriched by the week. But can we say 60+ rather than 50+?

    A few years ago, I did attend one of the Monday classes taught by a family counselor (whose name escapes me) about dealing with problem children. Since I was dealing with a problem child, it was validating, inspiring, and really helpful. I see many couples–60+ years old–holding hands as they head off to class. I suspect it’s a second honeymoon for many.

  15. Any three-day class that could make either, much less BOTH, of my then-60+ parents start trading Shakespeare quotations at the dinner table can’t be all that bad.

  16. Trading Shakespeare quotes can lead to intimacy, which is probably why Monday classes often include intimacy as a subject. Start the week by getting inspired to hop into bed with your spouse and then get poetic words (THE SCRIPT) to quote lovingly under the sheets as the week goes on. No wonder the campus is so smiley.

    (Bruce and I actually did begin our courtship by quoting Shakespeare to each other. It was in his office. Dang, that was romantic. Now he just buys me sandwiches at vending machines.)

  17. Eeew! ick! We’re talking about my PARENTS here, Margaret! :)

  18. molly bennion says:

    Margaret, “Even a barn looks better when it’s painted”? I, who lived in Texas long enough to learn to love makeup, will never look at makeup in quite the same way. Thanks for what will be a recurring chuckle.

  19. I’m going to be in my 60s before I can attend again, because they invariably have it during our first week of school here, with too much going on with the youngsters to leave for a week:(

    I went the last time in 1987, and attended some management classes that helped me in my graduate work.

  20. That’s a whole nother subject, huh. The idea that OLD PEOPLE have sex. I wonder if Education Week would ever have a class called “How to Explain to your Teenager What They Saw When They Walked In On You after Education Week”.

    My kids stop any chatter which could allude to “the beast with two backs” (great phrase which you can learn at Education Week) with “TOO MUCH INFORMATION!!!”

  21. Molly, that is genuinely a Daryl Hoole phrase, and it has been repeated many times at Education Week. Of course, we Provoans simply arrange Mary Kaye parties immediately after any Daryl Hoole class.

  22. I went to a few classes about twenty years ago. The part about it that was somewhat repellant was the way people treated popular religion professors, fawning over them and asking for autographs. Holy cow, it was bizarre.

    And given that CES has been the culprit in the past when it comes to propagation of false doctrine (generals in the war in heaven, tear-jerking stories which turn out to be fabricated), I think that Ed Week falls into the category of alternate voices.

  23. Um, fascinating, Margaret. Sorry I won’t be there. :)

    Why do I suspect there will be no panels on gay marriage or Mormon nudism at this particular event?

    (Speaking of which, I should forward you the description of Sunstone I got, from a prominent CES person.)

  24. p.s Shakespeare is nothing. I dated a girl once, where we threw _Neruda_ lines at each other. Now _that_, is pretty hot.

    Except that, for various reasons, it didn’t really work out. It kinda crashed spectacularly, actually. And now, well, Neruda occupies kind of a weird place in my psyche.

    I guess if I had had enough failed relationships, I could have knocked out most of the canon.

  25. Kevin Barney says:

    Here in Chicago we used to throw a BYU Education Day (not Week), which was sponsored by CES and intended to give the locals a small taste of the bigger experience that they were unable to attend. I taught at it two or three years. I think one was on Joseph’s use of Hebrew and another was a slide show I put together (this was before the ubiquity of power point) called, as I recall, “Everything You Wanted to Know about the Joseph Smith Papyri*

    *but were afraid to ask”

    It was fun. I remember we had a woman from Naperville give a terrific class on the Strangites (she had been studying them for 20 years and had turned herself into quite an expert on them).

  26. For a couple of years, I worked for a BYU department that catered to education week attendees. I can now confess that we jacked up the price on certain products and services by 50-60% during that week, and then discounted them by 10%.

    BYU students would do well to remember not to frequent certain BYU commercial entities during that week.

  27. Education Week is ***NOT*** CES, although some speakers may be with CES. Education Week is run by the Continuing Education department/division/whatever it is of BYU. Big difference, even though it is BYU. I worked very briefly for Ed Week back in the ’80s (very briefly, because I was not allowed to do anything to fill utterly empty hours, even read a newspaper; I had to sit there waiting for the phone to ring, as if anybody would be calling in January to make reservations for an August event). Almost the only time the phone did ring during my time there, it was some heart surgeon named Nelson calling — personally, not through a secretary — to apologetically withdraw from his scheduled participation later that year because he had a new Church calling that would keep him rather busy. I wonder whatever happened to that guy?

  28. I know that EdWeek gets criticized by the student body as a campus annoyance and mocked by those who take issue with the classes … but as I look back now, there are very few universities who have Continuing Ed departments with the reach and scope of BYU.

    Take out all of the annoying BYU/Mormon cultural kitsch, and EdWeek is one heck of an event…

  29. I love the idea of education week. It’s just the reality of it that seems off putting. Yet I know many people, my mom included, who absolutely love it. If they are getting something from it who are we to complain? I used to get worried that my wife loved Dr. Phil and Oprah so much. But then I realized that if she enjoyed it who am I to criticize? It’s a much healthier attitude towards life when you don’t impose your needs and values on everyone else.

  30. BTW – just let me second Ardis’ comment in #11. I know a lot of people from outside of Utah who simply never have opportunities like this. Most of us – especially if we went to BYU or even UVU or UoU – take for granted those fireside that got old, being able to speak about our religion in a slightly more extensive fashion than Sunday School, and so forth. For them this really is a big deal. And even if some of the talks seem silly and overly motivational (dare I say partake of the spirit of Oprah?) for these people it is new, exciting and invigorating.

    I think we take for granted what opportunities we have.

  31. Ardis, I’m not so sure about the CES affiliation. The web address which you kindly furnished me (, shows it solidly under the auspices of CES ( CES doesn’t have any tie with BYU, which is perhaps why it appears to be in conjunction with the continuing education arm the University.

  32. J., how do you figure? The only mention I see of CES is in a description of presenters — some BYU faculty, some CES people, etc. That, and the menu bar that lets you click to get to CES programs, as well as Evening Classes, Conferences and Workshops, BGS, and other programs that are definitely not CES. It would be a recent development to put EdWeek under CES, and certainly the presenters are by no means all CES. Financial planning, cooking demonstrations, gardening, real estate — not standard CES fare, but very typical of EdWeek.

  33. It is true that I have no inside knowledge, but the fact that the first link in comment #31 has a link for “Adult CES Programs Home” and the second link (the root of the first link) lists “Campus Education Week” under the “BYU CES Adult Programs” suggests to me that it is under their auspices. Could definitely be wrong though.

  34. My FIL worked for Continuing Ed for years. I just sent him an e-mail.

  35. “That, and the menu bar that lets you click to get to CES programs, as well as Evening Classes, Conferences and Workshops, BSG, and other programs that are definitely not CES.”

    CES is responsible for BSG? No wonder Languatron keeps harassing us.

  36. I am at Ed. Week right now. Attended a great class on how to teach teenagers to use and understand the scriptures, one on better utilizing faith in our lives, types and shadows of the atonement in the scriptures – love it! Don’t get many opportunities for in-depth classes. Looking forward to the rest of the week.

  37. The summary of my FIL’s response:

    “One of the BYU Continuing Education departments is responsible for Ed Week. However, EACH presenter must be cleared by Salt Lake; and each presenter must submit at least an outline, if not a full script, of their presentation(s).”

  38. Margaret:

    The correct response to the “How to Explain to your Teenager What They Saw When They Walked In On You after Education Week” is:

    Jeez. Doesn’t anybody [bleep]ing knock any more?

    Remember. Reprove betimes with sharpness.

  39. Thanks for the clarification, Ray. So, is the CES just branding?

  40. Re church history, I note classes on the JS Papers (p. 28), classes on the “Prophet Joseph Smith and the Law” (p. 26), and classes on “The Visual Images of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, and Oliver Cowdery,” including one entitled “Alleged Photographs and New Artist Creations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, and Oliver Cowdery” (p. 37).

    Re makeup and Daryl Hoole, I remember someone saying that J. Golden Kimball once said that “a little paint never hurt any old barn.” Hoole’s The Art of Homemaking is one of my favorite books.

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