"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
May 23, 2012
Only the Best is Good Enough for Children
by Emily S. Jorgensen

As part of my graduate studies in music education, I visited Hungary and also took several classes at BYU that led to receiving my Kodaly Certification. Zoltan Kodaly is widely regarded as the father of modern choral education. Central to his philosophies is this motto, "Only the best is good enough for children."

What did he mean? In Hungary, partly due to his influence, and partly to the governance of the former Soviet Republic, with its emphasis on measurable performance achievement, only the top graduates at University are qualified to teach in the public schools.

Imagine that -- to be a public school teacher you have to graduate at the top of your class! How different that is from our educational system, where the interview consists more of, "Can you coach volleyball?" or "Do you speak any Spanish?" rather than, "What was your class ranking at college?" What would our education system be like if only the brightest, hardest working of our college graduates were allowed to teach our children?

I have espoused this philosophy in my role as Primary president of my ward, much to my bishopric's chagrin.

The bishopric gives me that, "I'm trying to be patient with you, Sister Jorgensen," look when I am asking for that really amazing couple in the ward to be Primary teachers - you know, the ones who are great at everything and are already the ward organist and building supervisor and visiting teaching supervisor and high priest instructor...

They would much prefer I request Brother and Sister Perky-pants, who just moved in and have been married for 5.2 weeks and have absolutely no experience with children in their long 22-year-old lives. This would be easier for the bishopric, because then this "wonderful new couple" would have a calling and I would stop pestering my leaders.

I don't have anything against Brother and Sister Perky. I really don't. It's just I know my Valiant 9 class -- which is all boys -- will eat Sister Perky for lunch.

How do I know this? Because it has happened before. Our biggest problem in our Primary is class abandonment -- teachers that just don't show up to do their calling. Do they know the cost to the children when they do this?

Children's testimonies are tender; this is the time when they start to learn what their place is in the Kingdom of God. It's easy to assume they will be fine -- after all, they are sweet and innocent and respectful (mostly), and know how to pray and sing the Primary songs.

But that stage doesn't really last that long.

That stage of child development (or, should we say, people development?) is a gift -- the time when we can teach them without guile and they accept what we tell them and make it a permanent part of who they are and what they think.

It will be very soon that they will decide they know more than all the idiot adults in their life, and then that window is closed. This window of opportunity is too brief and too precious to squander.

Now, of course, we have many faithful, stalwart, amazing teachers in our Primary also. There is the mom whose husband doesn't attend church and who herself was less active when the bishopric recommended her to me. She has been diligent and patient and is the perfect teacher to our sweet little Sunbeams.

Then there is the couple that no one out of Primary realizes is in our ward because they have been quietly and steadily serving in Primary for the past three years (ever since they moved into our ward) without complaint.

These good teachers and several like them are they whom the Lord spoke of when He said, "For inasmuch as ye do it unto the least of these ye do it unto me."(D&C 42:38) There is no doubt in my mind where the Lord puts children in His priority list. He demonstrated it time and again, throughout His ministry, though surely He was tired and busy with all the needs and questions of the adults constantly around Him.

He said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not." (Mark 10:14)

It may have been Kodaly's words, but they serve the Master just as well, "Only the best is good enough for children."

Let's be the best -- the best parents, the best Sunday School teachers, the best Cub Scout den leaders we can be. Let's be good enough for the Lord's children.


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About Emily S. Jorgensen

Emily Jorgensen received her bachelor's degree in piano performance from Brigham Young University. She earned her master's degree in elementary music education, also at BYU. She holds a Kodaly certificate in choral education, as well as permanent certification in piano from Music Teacher’s National Association.

She has taught piano, solfege, and children’s music classes for 17 years in her own studio. She has also taught group piano classes at BYU.

She is an active adjudicator throughout the Wasatch Front and has served in local, regional, and state positions Utah Music Teachers' Association, as well as the Inspirations arts contest chair at Freedom Academy.

She gets a lot of her inspiration for her column by parenting her own rambunctious four children, aged from “in diapers” to “into Harry Potter.” She is still married to her high school sweetheart and serves in her ward’s Primary.

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