Education among the Mormons : Brigham Young and the Schools of Utah
History of Education Quarterly
This paper examines the degree to which 19th century Mormons, and particularly Brigham Young, were committed to education PER SE, as a background for the apparent great educational achievements of Mormons in the 20th century. Buchanan reports the several studies of unusual achievement of Mormons, and asks whether the committment of education in the 19th century accounts for that. In analyzing the 19th century, he shows that Brigham Young's philosophy was pragmatic. He believed in common schools as necessary, but also believed that education should be directed by the Church for the purpose of supporting the faith. 'Brigham Young was an advocate of basic schooling but believed that it should be controlled and financed by local Mormon congregations. Such schooling was not value free and it was Brigham Young's view that these schools should reinforce the value system of the Mormon community.' 'The foremost priority of the Mormon Church was, therefore, the preservation and promotion of its values.' Buchanan does not dispute the figures on modern Mormon achievement of education, but believes that the traditional explanation based on 19th century committment to education is superficial. He offers several possible additional reasons for what appears to be 'deviant' (i.e. unusual) educational achievements.