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Joseph Smith Jr., the American prophet, and education are a natural fit. Like a hand in a glove, the two combined become an instrument of extraordinary potential.

This essay was written for all those who might find interest in exploring the relationship between American education and Joseph Smith the American Prophet. It is addressed to anyone who loves education and finds interest in the thoughts and writings of Joseph Smith, as well as to those who love Joseph Smith and also find interest in the theory and practice of education.

My general observations are expressed in the text; more detailed connections to various aspects of Joseph Smith’s ideas can be found in the footnotes and their references. As the reader may recognize, the breadth and depth of these two topics far exceed adequate treatment in a limited document by a single author. But what can be accomplished, hopefully, is to present enough of the story to demonstrate value in considering Joseph Smith as an educator worthy of critical study. The footnotes will signal to the serious reader, the pervasive and extended nature of this subject matter.

I begin with a brief commentary on two topics— (a) education and (b) Joseph Smith Jr., the person. It is vital to understand both the definition of education used in this document, and to sense the way this man’s reputation spread throughout the world in such a rapid and remarkable manner. This phenomenon remains a mystery yet to be fully explained.


SOURCEJoseph Smith Forum Papers
Author, Emeritus BYU/CES Educator

Neil J Flinders is the author of several books, numerous articles, and other writings related to education, leadership, religion, philosophy and human relations. His doctors, masters, and bachelor degrees were earned at Brigham Young University where he was faculty member in the School of Education for nineteen years. Previously, he spent nineteen years as a Seminary and Institute of Religion teacher, and Director of Research for the CES in the Commissioners Office. He has served in the LDS Church as a missionary, Quorum President, Bishop, Stake President, member of the Sunday School General Board and Temple Ordinance worker. He and his wife, Joan, are parents of seven children, 37 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.

Read more papers authored by Neil Flinders at the Joseph Smith Forum Papers.