Here’s how I taught this lesson in my ward:
I put the following on the board before class:
500 / 7.25 = 69 hours
500 / 15.78 = 32 hours
500 / 28.28 = 18 hours
500 / 54.58 = 9 hours
500 / 85 = 6 hours
I asked them to imagine that sometime in the future, they decided that they needed to add $500 per week to their household budget. If they could only get a job which earned minimum wage, they’d need to work 69 hours per week for their $500. The average wage for a high school graduate is $15.78–they would need to work 32 hours. A college graduate earns $28.28, so 18 hours. A lawyer–$54.58, so 9 hours, and a doctor makes $85, so 6 hours. I threw in all sorts of qualifications (about how statistics are not perfectly accurate, not all college grads make the same amount, it may be hard to find a job that will let you work 9 hours per week, people who take out loans for higher education will need to pay them off, etc.), but explained that I was trying to make a general point that I think the numbers make clear: increased education gives you more options about what you can do with your time.
Then I told them that there are many others reasons besides earning potential to get an education. (In fact, the adult leaders in the room spontaneously generated a discussion that we would all have gotten more education if we hadn’t had to work to earn money–I thought this was fabulous.) I said that it bothered me how our culture (American, not Mormon in particular) sometimes treated education as if it were nothing more than job training–I explained that we hadn’t always talked like this, and it made me sad that we now do.
Then, I had the girls look up some profiles from the “I’m a Mormon” campaign on their phones and read them. These profiles were chosen ahead of time by me because they feature women with a variety of educational background and mention how they use their training to help build the kingdom and bless the world. (The way I managed this in class was to list the four-digit code that identifies each profile on the board and then I had the girls Google “I’m a Mormon” and the code.) I asked them to tell us how the woman in the profile used her education to build up the kingdom. These are the profiles that I used:
I talked about how important their contributions are: people like Chalene keep our country safe; people like Maryeri make it possible for us to have events like church camps.
Then we looked at several scriptural examples of women who were able to use their training to build up the kingdom. I had planned on talking about the Hebrew midwives (I ended up on a tangent feminist rant about how Pharaoh’s big mistake was to not recognize the power of righteous women and how much I love it that a whole bunch of women–the midwives, Moses’ mom, Moses’ sister, and Pharaoh’s own daughter–work to protect Moses), Deborah, the Proverbs 31 woman, Mary and Martha, Lydia, and Emma Smith, but we only had time for the midwives, Deborah, and Mary and Martha.
One of the counselors in the bishopric was there and he asked to add something to the end. He said that he hoped that the girls didn’t think that guys preferred uneducated girls–he said the good guys wanted a partner who was their equal. I was pleased he added that.
I ended by challenging them to take their educations seriously.