Education Weep

Do all your driving this weekend, because starting Monday, Utah Valley will be packed with Education Week visitors converging on BYU. Many of them are from out of state and are not familiar with our local traffic laws, like the one that says when a light turns green, you have to sit there and look stunned for several seconds before moving.

There are literally millions of Education Week lectures offered to knowledge-hungry Latter-day Saints. It would be impossible to attend them all, no matter how good your Franklin Planner skills are. So here are a few of the more interesting ones you may have overlooked in the catalog.

“The Book of Numbers: Motivating Your Quorum to Get Its Home Teaching Done.” One of the most important assignments in the church is the assignment to go to a stranger’s house and be his friend whether he likes it or not. This class teaches Elders Quorum presidents how to persuade their brethren to achieve 100 percent home teaching, while simultaneously convincing them they’re not doing it just for the numbers. Emphasizes “quality vs. quantity” doublespeak that makes it sound like both are equally important. (“Don’t go visit everyone just so you can tell us you did it. But do go visit everyone. And do tell us you did it.”) Instructor: Fare E. See

“The Name Game: Are We Mormons, Or What?” Explains what the heck we’re supposed to call ourselves, now that we’ve been encouraged to say “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” instead of “Mormon Church”: “Latter-day Saints” is OK, but “Mormons” isn’t really accurate. Includes practice in saying “Latter-day Saint Tabernacle Choir” and “Latter-day Saint Battalion.” Instructor: The president of the National Association for the Advancement of African-Americans

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Pulpit: Using Sacrament Meeting Talks to Win Friends and Influence People.” Everyone knows the real purpose behind speaking in sacrament meeting: to crack jokes. But not everyone is adept at doing it. This class teaches the basics: Every talk must begin with a statement to the effect of, “When Brother So-and-So called and asked me to give this talk…”; every talk should include a jovial reference to the speaker’s wish that the person speaking prior to him had taken up more time; and every talk should include a random joke, preferably involving the prophet and fishing. Note: Factors such as timing and delivery are not discussed. Instructor: The guy in my last ward who I think seriously believed all this

“All Dressed up with No Place to Worship: Getting the Most out of Prom Dresses.” When the young women have been to their high school proms, everyone in the ward wants to know how darling and precious they looked in their modest new dresses. Achieve this not by showing everyone the 500 photos you took before they left the house, but by having them wear their prom costumes to church the next day. Nothing looks more not-out-of-place and not-tacky than a pastel-colored, chiffon-oriented formal dress in the meetinghouse corridors! Make sure the young ladies wear their wrist corsages, too, to give the impression they came to church straight from the prom, because it apparently lasted 16 hours. Class also includes tips on dressing for Boy Scout courts of honor. Instructor: Calvin Klein Christensen

Other Education Week classes being offered: “Commanded in All Things: Why There Should Be ‘R’ Ratings for Books, Plays, Music and TV Shows, Too, So We’d Never Have to Use Our Own Judgment Again”; “Missionaries Don’t Play Pranks or Use Toilets: Things to Be Offended by in ‘God’s Army'”; “The Man Who Recorded That ‘Mormon Rap’ Song 10 Years Ago: What Ever Happened to That Guy?”; “Be of Good Cheer: What a ‘Joke’ Is, and How to Take One.”

My third annual Education Week column. (Sharp-memoried readers will recall that my first one was also my first "Snide Remarks" column for The Daily Herald.) I honestly almost forgot to write it. It took 10 minutes of absent-mindedly half-listening to co-workers talk about the upcoming Education Week for my brain to kick-start and say, "Oh, yeah, I need to write a column about that." I seriously need an intern or something.

The joke at the end of the "Name Game" class had me very worried. I was concerned it would confuse too many people, who wouldn't get why the president of the National Association for the Advancement of African-Americans would be speaking. (In case you didn't, in fact, get it, the organization is actually called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, even though "colored people" is considered an offensive term nowadays. Similarly, the church prefers "Latter-day Saints" to "Mormons," while continuing to use "Mormon" in certain instances.) I sent the column in, then second-guessed myself and ran that paragraph past a friend. He got it, and he's pretty dumb, so I felt comfortable letting it through.

I used instructor names in the previous year's Education Week column and felt compelled to do so again this year. That enabled the NAACP joke, but it also meant I had to scrape bottom a couple times with lame puns like "Fare E. See." Ugh.