≡ Menu

LDS Seminary – Worth the Effort?

LDS Seminary Worth the EffortYesterday I created a post about an LDS seminary problem that came up, once again, in a child’s class.

I prefaced the discussion with my glowing praise of seminary. With 26 years of seminary experience under our belts, we have had an overwhelmingly positive overall experience.

One of the comments by someone using the moniker “A Turtle Named Mack” said this:

I have nothing but respect for those who accept a call to teach Seminary – I surely would not do it. I’m not sure I can support my kid getting up extra early (along with at least one parent), sacrificing sleep and a decent breakfast, and dragging herself into school at the bell, if I just have to re-teach it all, later. Of course, I’m hopeful that I get a chance to re-teach her. Who knows what she’s been taught that I’m not aware of. I’m thinking that Allison was lucky to be able to have a discussion with her daughter. The other kids who were there may carry the belief with them for years. Is this cause to weep for the future?

Did you attend seminary? Have your kids attended? What was their overall experience? Was it worth the effort? Did you have any doctrinal or other problems? How did you address them?

{ 22 comments… add one }

  • Oregonian May 23, 2013, 3:33 pm

    wow. good question. sometimes i think yes and other times it drove me to distraction. really depends on the teacher. and the kid.

  • MarieJohansen May 23, 2013, 6:41 pm

    Big investment, would love to hear from experienced parents.

  • MB May 23, 2013, 7:46 pm

    I attended early morning seminary as a teenager and my own children did as well. Was it hard? Yes.
    Did it require self-discipline? Yes.
    Sacrifice? Yes.
    Were the teachers all good? No. But some were. And one or two were very good.
    Did they teach things that I disagreed with or that my parents disagreed with? Occasionally.
    Did that mess things up? No, because my parents were open and kind about what they believed and what they disagreed with, were always open to conversation and did not ever require their children to believe what their teachers taught nor did they panic when teachers were wrong. I learned forgiveness and patience through that and though it was challenging I think my children did too when they encountered that.
    Did it mess with academics and extracurricular activities? A little. One can’t do everything and have it not take a little bit of a toll on everything. However it we did fine and we all had good, satisfying opportunities open to us after high school.
    Were we really tired because of it? If we stayed up late and got up early, yes. So we often, if not usually, were.
    How did you manage that? The same way you manage anything hard to do: Determination and character and a clear idea of what was expected and how we could make it happen with fairness and responsibility, figuring out how to manage the challenges, expressing confidence and never nagging.

    Would we do it again? Yes. It was hard but it was worth it, not only for the material that was discussed and the self-discipline and sacrifice it required and the discussions about what we agreed or disagreed with, but also for the fellowship it could foster among the few LDS students at the high school when the teacher was wise to that possibility. That fellowship can be empowering.

    It would be nice if everything good was easy to do and if every teacher was wonderful and accurate all the time and every student loving and kind and we all got 8-9 hours of good sleep each night. But in every situation where one of more of those is not the case we have the opportunity to learn a lot of good things about ourselves and God and how to work with Him to approach and find solutions to difficult challenges.

    I think that every good life has situations like that, be it early morning seminary or something else. And I think that if you work with God as you go through them you are a better person for it.

    And I hope I will remember that when I get called as a senior missionary to a far-off place where I have trouble learning the language, I sleep on an extremely uncomfortable mattress and I sometimes disagree with the mission president. :-D

  • pardonmoi May 23, 2013, 10:59 pm

    MB I like your comment but I think sometimes people do more damage than can be corrected with just being open and kind. Thats all.

  • Porter May 24, 2013, 7:35 am

    What is with this walking victim attitude. If someone says something offensive or wrong how does that “damage” you. My goodness. We are a people who dragged our butts across the prairie, yet now some would further the notion that we are so fragile one horrible teacher expeience can “damage” us. Come on, put away the victim mentality. That is one of the very real downsides of the blogosphere, often it is a contest to see who can be the most “damaged”, upset, hurt, etc by others. Come on move ahead with your life positively; act, dont be acted upon.!

  • MB May 24, 2013, 9:09 am

    Damage can be done, yes. If you are dealing with a villain he or she must be dealt with accordingly.

    That said, my experience is that as you assist a teenager who is dealing with damaging teaching of untruths it is essential that you also empower that teenager to understand that the perpetrator of those falsehoods does not hold the power. Power ultimately lies in truth. Teenagers need to understand that truth is where the power lies, that the erroneous teacher’s words or actions are less powerful than truth and that therefore that teacher’s words can and will be ultimately conquered and exposed as false.

    Teenagers need to learn that they can discern truth and decide that a teaching is not true and that the world does not come to an end when that happens. Having a teacher tell you you are wrong is hard but it is not the end of the world and it does not make him or her right or give him power over you or over truth. Truth will ultimately prevail.

    And when teenager or an adult understands that truth will ultimately prevail it empowers him or her to respond with kindness instead of with fear or anger and to stand strong in the face of untruth. It enables a student to stand still and well in what they believe is true whether or not they are able to make others change their teachings or beliefs.

    Now, by kindness I do not mean avoiding speaking the truth frankly and clearly. Truth must be spoken, clearly and with respect. I do not mean being mamby pamby or pretending that no damage is being done or avoiding conflict at all costs. That is not kindness. I mean treating your adversary as an equal and with integrity and, ultimately, forgiveness, whether or not they respond the same way.

    When teenagers see you model that, that empowers them to stand firm in what they feel is true and reduce the damage being done. Way too often we get angry or fearful and fight or flee when things go bad in a teaching situation. We need to model a better way for our teenagers to respond to erroneous teaching, a way born of trust in truth and peace in that knowledge. It’s an important skill. They will encounter erroneous teaching many times in their lives in church, in college, in society at large and in their professions. They will encounter in those venues teachers who will denigrate and dismiss what they say they believe is right or true. The years when they are teenagers in our home are the years where we teach them how to deal with that wisely and with courage and peace when they are adults.

    Now, I will admit that if you have a masochist teaching your seminary class and/or bullying or belittling going on, that’s a different story that needs different response. But I’m not talking about that. I’m simply talking about responses to erroneous false teaching.

  • Porter May 24, 2013, 11:15 am

    My kids (I have 7) have had bad teachers (I would not go so melodramatic as to call them villainous) I teach them to “deal with it” by saying “welcome to real life, that teacher is a Bozo, life is like that. Oh, and by the way, some adults you meet, even at Church, SUCK. Most are cool, some a small minority will suck, no big deal. “

  • Angie Gardner May 24, 2013, 7:05 pm

    Yep, what Porter said. That is the same with school. Some great teachers, some awful. I would hope we are teaching our children well enough at home that they are not “damaged” by poor teaching or by the occasional doctrine we aren’t quite on board with. The worst that will hopefully happen is they’ll be bored. Oh well.

    Having said that, we haven’t started seminary yet so I have no room whatsoever to talk. :)

    We start this fall, 5:50 a.m. I am SO not looking forward to that aspect of it but my daughter is really excited and has a positive attitude about it.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 25, 2013, 2:35 am

    I don’t have much to time to write right now, but holy cow, yes teachers can do damage. Even if parents are attentive and prayerful and thoughtful.

    Sincerely, if they have so little influence as to be unable to harm, they certainly can’t do any good either. It simply does cut both ways.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…This is What Pro-Choice Really MeansMy Profile

  • Angie Gardner May 25, 2013, 8:11 am

    I agree they can do damage, and good. I just think with religious education if you are talking to your kids in your home about things the risk of that is low. I don’t have any time to expound either today but religious education to me is much different than secular education. You can keep much more of a handle on it.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 25, 2013, 12:15 pm

    My kids (I have 7) have had bad teachers (I would not go so melodramatic as to call them villainous) I teach them to “deal with it” by saying “welcome to real life, that teacher is a Bozo, life is like that. Oh, and by the way, some adults you meet, even at Church, SUCK. Most are cool, some a small minority will suck, no big deal. “

    I take a different approach. (FTR, I’ve never had villainous teachers, either.) I can think of very few reasons to “deal with” a bad teacher. It’s at very least a waste of time. At church where we kind of have an agreement to support each other in our general volunteer ineptness, OK. But in seminary or school or work, I choose not to waste my time (or my kids’ time) to a great extent.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Live Theater Etiquette for Dummies – Yes, YouMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith May 25, 2013, 12:24 pm

    Years ago I taught senior high school age Gospel Doctrine. The discussion had something to do with assessing what YOU bring to your own spirituality. I was going to make the point that the kids could, for example, go to seminary having already read the scriptures before class and take some questions or ideas about them. I had no seminary age kids at the time (it was an early morning seminary situation), so this is something like how the conversation went:

    Me: What are you studying in seminary this year?

    Class: What?

    Me: What book of scripture are you studying this year in seminary?

    Class: What do you mean?

    Me: Well, each year you study a work of scripture. Which one are you studying this year?

    Class: I don’t know.

    Me: OK, what are some of the scriptures you are learning this year? Are they from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, what?

    Class: What do you mean?

    Me: Like the scripture mastery scriptures or the scriptures you memorize or the ones you mark and talk about?

    Class: We don’t have scripture mastery.

    Me: What do you do in seminary every morning?

    Class:
    Eat bagels.
    Do crossword puzzles.
    Do word searches.
    Talk.
    Sleep!

    This was FEBRUARY. They had been getting up at 0 dark hundred every day for six months to nosh on bagels, nap, and do word searches for things like “faith” and “scriptures.” Oh, and watch videos. And not one of the dozenish kids had any idea what they were supposedly studying.

    So, yea, at that point I let the kid get an extra hour or two of sleep and either get home study packets or just do something on my own. waste. of. resources.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Celebrate 43 Years of Earth Day StupidityMy Profile

  • jennycherie May 25, 2013, 3:29 pm

    I am hoping Tracy will pipe in here – as she is currently teaching seminary. My husband and I were both converted after turning 18, so neither of us have any personal experience with seminary. We are in our second year of having children in seminary. Our biggest obstacle is just the logistics of transportation. It seemed impossible at first, but it has worked out. At times, I have spent a LOT of time (an hour or me – a lot before I leave for my 70 mile commute to work) just getting my kids to seminary and school, but it has worked out. Our teacher is great, and frankly, I am just glad it is manageable for us, as a family. I think it is a small sacrifice for our kids (and us!) to wake up early for seminary, and I think it sets a pattern of priorities for our kids. Wake up at 5:30, out the door by 5:50, to school by 7.

    We have been fortunate to have one, superb teacher. I admit, I hope some day to be well educated enough (spiritually) to be able to have this calling, if it is ever available. I loved teaching Gospel Doctrine and I generally enjoy teenagers, so it would be great! Of the seminary teachers I have known(especially Tracy!), they have had solid foundations in the gospel coupled with excellent teaching skills.

    I love Alison’s point about taking responsibility for your own spiritual education. Whether you are in primary, seminary, gospel doctrine, or Relief Society, there are crazies every where! It is important to question the things that seem ‘off,’ and to correct, when possible, when things are clearly contradicting the doctrine. We used to have a sister in our ward who bore her testimony of drinking coffee. We had a man pipe up in ward council, warning us that we are “constrained by wicked politicians!” A sweet, well-meaning man in Gospel Doctrine made the comment (that I’ve heard in many variations over the years) that the Relief Society had to be organized so things would get done in the church. Those are just the first that come to mind, but as an individual, I need to know the doctrine well enough to recognize false doctrine. If something incorrect is taught at church, I need to study it if it gives me questions. If it is within my stewardship, I need to correct the false doctrine. As a mother, I need to talk with my kids about what their learning and correct the misunderstandings that come up, chat with the primary president if it is an ongoing problem. I need to be self-reliant spiritually as well as temporally.

    Blargh- most importantly, when I am teaching, I need to be prepared enough that when a sweet man pipes up with “The Relief Society had to be organized so we could get stuff done,” I will have some response other than, “OH. . . ok” (#teachingfail)
    jennycherie recently posted…Update on the HateMy Profile

  • jennycherie May 25, 2013, 3:31 pm

    #postfail – WHY can I only see the typos AFTER I hit submit?
    jennycherie recently posted…Update on the HateMy Profile

  • MB May 25, 2013, 6:01 pm

    I do not disagree that teachers can do damage. And I believe that some kids, because of their state of mind, life experience, social outcast challenges, abuse, emotional state, anxiety or shyness or a number of other things, are more susceptible to damage than others.

    Be that as it may, the point is not whether or not teachers can do damage. Nor even the extent of the damage they can do, though that is important to consider. The point is that kids with a negative seminary experience have four choices outlined directly or referenced in the above discussion
    1. Be tough and understand that life is not a bed of roses and some people are incompetent. No big deal.
    2. Chuck it and don’t participate
    3. Call it like it is and respectfully speak the truth as you work to find solutions.
    4. Grit your teeth, suffer and attend anyway.

    (did I miss one?)

    Each kid and each family is different and you as a parent can know, through inspiration what course is best to take.

    I think it’s good to have a general inclination to one sort of response (for me it’s #3 as that’s the one I want my kids to be able to do as adults, but for you and your kids it might be one of the others). And I also think it’s good to have a heart open to divine messages when you need to help a child and do something different due to special or unusual circumstances.

  • jenny June 1, 2013, 6:45 pm

    “At church where we kind of have an agreement to support each other in our general volunteer ineptness, OK. But in seminary or school or work, I choose not to waste my time (or my kids’ time) to a great extent.”

    Seminary is a stake calling for the majority of teachers and students in most parts of the church. Lumping a calling with work is a Utah-style mistake I don’t think you intended to make.

    Ineptitude exists at church, school, work, and in our homes. We must learn to handle it with grace. People make errors in every assignment. We must teach children to accept imperfections in others, and where possible or appropriate, lift those who err or lack skill to something better, hoping that others will do the same with our imperfections.

    I teach sixteen Seminary students before school. When I proposed the option of released time (legal in our state) for next year during our last day of class, they discussed the idea and rejected it. They are too education minded to consider giving up 8 electives for Seminary. They balked at the idea of having tests on the gospel (released time courses must be of equivalent work load to regular school courses here). All fifteen said they’d rather get up early. I was astonished.

    It takes about 22 man hours (travel, study, parents waiting, students in class, my lesson prep) for every one of our 50 minute seminary classes. That’s a number I take very seriously. Each family is making a huge sacrifice for seminary in the hope that it can help students prepare for a school day filled with negativity. Most parents have seen several children through the program. If they felt it was a failure, I am certain they would not sacrifice as they do.

    Teacher problems exist in every teaching calling in the church due to our near total lack of teacher training. None of us is “good”enough to be led by the Spirit at all times. If we want better teachers, we need better training.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 1, 2013, 8:01 pm

    Welcome, jenny. You sound like a great teacher and a blessing to your students!

    Seminary is a stake calling for the majority of teachers and students in most parts of the church. Lumping a calling with work is a Utah-style mistake I don’t think you intended to make.

    If it’s a mistake it has nothing to do with geography, rather it’s in not keeping up with policy changes. When we lived in Florida (which is not Utah :)) teaching seminary was not a calling (stake or otherwise), it was an “appointment” that included a “stipend.”

    Ineptitude exists at church, school, work, and in our homes. We must learn to handle it with grace. People make errors in every assignment. We must teach children to accept imperfections in others, and where possible or appropriate, lift those who err or lack skill to something better, hoping that others will do the same with our imperfections.

    That isn’t a universal truth. We don’t teach our children to accept EVERY imperfection or to just suck it up (with grace) no matter what’s going on. There are some situations we find in tolerable.

    The real argument between us, I think, is where that line of toleration is.

    I accept that we all have ineptness. But my line comes somewhere before getting my kids up at 4:30 am and driving them to a room for 180-ish hours per year, waiting for them, and driving back — to do word searches on who knows what.

    The opportunity cost is just too high for me.

    As parents, we all have to figure out where those lines are. I also once told a bishop that I would not require my daughter to attend mutual anymore because she was bullied. Yes, I support the auxiliaries, but not at all costs.

    If they felt it was a failure, I am certain they would not sacrifice as they do.

    Exactly.

    Teacher problems exist in every teaching calling in the church due to our near total lack of teacher training. None of us is “good”enough to be led by the Spirit at all times. If we want better teachers, we need better training.

    When my oldest daughter was in elementary school, I was a room mother, on the PTA board, and elected to the school advisory council. I sacrificed hours and hours and hours to make the schools better.

    My daughter was labeled “gifted” and options were considered. Finally (at her own seven-year-old insistence) I realized that I was exhausting myself with approximately zero direct educational benefit to my daughter. And I could spend her entire school “career” volunteering and trying to make change for the “collective” and it would likely do very little for anyone, and particularly not for HER.

    So I pulled her out of school to homeschool her. (She’s in graduate school now at BYU and dancing on the ballroom team there.) I believe in communities, but not in sacrificing my own children for the institution.

    I see seminary much the same way. So far, I have three graduates and one about to begin her third year. We expect our two younger kids to graduate as well. But if my kids had been in the “we have no clue what scriptures we are studying, what do you mean by that anyway?” group, they would’t be there. We would have either done home study or driven to another county or something ELSE. Something useful. Something worthwhile.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…This is What Pro-Choice Really MeansMy Profile

  • Tracy Keeney June 12, 2013, 9:54 pm

    To the direct question–” is it worth it?” Absolutely.
    But there are several issues here, that really don’t have anything to do with “Seminary”– the seminary program, as it’s designed, is fantastic– period. And when it’s implemented the way it’s meant to be by those called to do it, and when the students do what THEY’RE suppose to do, it can do more for a person’s spiritual growth and testimony than probably every other program of the church. Better than Young Women. Better than Young Men. Better than RS and Elder’s Quorum. Why? Because it’s nearly an hour, five times a week of intense study of the scriptures, words of the Savior and His prophets, and how they apply to our lives, our marriages, our relationships and our choices. The very process of studying day after day (as opposed to once a week instruction at Sunday meetings) helps the material to be more deeply understood. Imagine reading a few pages of a novel on Monday for 30 or 40 minutes, and not returning to the book to read the next few pages until the FOLLOWING Monday. Then you put the book down and don’t read again until yet the NEXT Monday. Well, that’s pretty much what happens with Sunday lessons. Of course, if we were all doing what we should be, and were READING the class material on our own at home everyday, and having our own personal scripture study everyday, then naturally, we’d get more out of it. But honestly– how many people actually DO that? And even when they have personal scripture study every day, is it for 45-50 minutes? And is it real studying and pondering, or is it just reading?
    Seminary students– even if they aren’t reading on their own at home (which they’re suppose to be doing) are studying the scriptures, IN DEPTH, every single school day morning. I wouldn’t doubt that they are doing more studying than half of the adult membership of the church.
    So if the problem isn’t “seminary” then what are we really discussing here?
    1. Bad teachers
    If you have a teacher who REALLY IS just handing out crossword puzzles and word searches every day and not teaching a lesson, or reading the scriptures with the kids, or having any thought-provoking discussion or studying of the course material, and it’s SO bad that the kids don’t even know what book they’re studying that year, then I’m afraid you have a very lazy teacher who either needs some serious redirecting or needs to be released. (The story is so mind-boggling that it’s honestly hard for me to believe. Not that you’re making it up or anything– but maybe that the kids themselves were just being snotty? How many kids were in the class? Are we talking about 3 or 4 kids? Maybe they were all slackers themselves? Maybe they’re the kind of kids who only go because their parents make them and they pretty much tune out the whole time they’re there, and just weren’t paying any attention during class and only remember the crossword puzzles, word searches and bagels because those were the only things that even entertained them in the slightest?) Or were there 10 or 12 kids in the class? If the number of students was higher like this and they were all faithful seminary attendees, and not ONE of them knew what book they were studying, then there’s more of a reason to believe that it’s the teacher who was the slacker. Were they never given the materials? It just seems that if the classroom environment and instruction (or lack thereof) really was that bad, there would have been so many complaints by kids AND parents to Bishops, Area Supervisors, the Area CES director and the Stake President, that the person would have been chastised and likely released.) However, if the situation really was as bad as the kids made it sound, then I can guarantee you that such a teacher is a rarity and not the norm.

    2. False doctrine/inappropriate discussion of lesser understood principles
    Again– this isn’t a “seminary” issue. This is a problem with ANY teaching position where the teacher is either straying from the material or doesn’t know how or is afraid to redirect conversation that starts drifting from the actual subject matter that’s SUPPOSED to be being discussed.
    The teacher’s manuals for seminary are actually pretty explicit about what isn’t appropriate to discuss. It will say something like “be careful not to let the conversation drift into a discussion about ________” or “avoid speculating on _______”. I specifically remember for example, the manual for the New Testament stating that we shouldn’t speculate on whether or not Christ was married.
    None of this is exclusive to seminary teachers. It applies to all teaching callings.
    3. What makes attending ANY church meeting/class “worth it”?
    We’ve all attended Sacrament meetings that seemed dull– we’ve all heard poorly prepared/delivered talks, poorly prepared/poorly taught lessons, testimonies that were mere travelogues, “thank-a-monies” or expressions of affection/appreciation for spouses.
    Of course a well prepared and delivered talk/lesson is more exciting to listen to– and it certainly makes it EASIER to get something from it when it captures our attention. But we’re just as responsible for our own efforts to LISTEN and participate, as the person teaching is responsible for their efforts to prepare.
    That said, if MY children were in a seminary class where the teacher REALLY WASN’T doing any teaching, cracking open a book of scripture, etc but was merely handing out gospel related word search puzzles, etc — would I continue to send them? If I’d already discussed the problem with the teacher, with the Bishop etc and the situation didn’t change– then no. I wouldn’t continue to send them. I’d send them to a different class with a different teacher — or teach them myself.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 13, 2013, 9:07 am

    Tracy, thanks for bringing your extensive personal expertise to the discussion!

    I realize the the problems addressed aren’t EXCLUSIVE to seminary, but they often are problems with seminary. So they have everything to do with seminary, IMO. I don’t think you can separate seminary from the implementation of seminary or the teachers of seminary or what is taught in seminary.

    The very process of studying day after day (as opposed to once a week instruction at Sunday meetings) helps the material to be more deeply understood. Imagine reading a few pages of a novel on Monday for 30 or 40 minutes, and not returning to the book to read the next few pages until the FOLLOWING Monday. Then you put the book down and don’t read again until yet the NEXT Monday. Well, that’s pretty much what happens with Sunday lessons. Of course, if we were all doing what we should be, and were READING the class material on our own at home everyday, and having our own personal scripture study everyday, then naturally, we’d get more out of it. But honestly– how many people actually DO that?

    I do. :)

    I don’t disagree at all with the amount of rigor in Seminary that almost happens by default if you attend and stay awake. (We used to have a joke in Boca, even did a video about it: “Seminary” It’s all about sleep.” ;) ) I tend to think, however, that Gospel Doctrine, for example, could be a better use of time if, as you note, was “implemented the way it’s meant to be by those called to do it” because it involves not only intense PERSONAL study but also group follow up and input.

    And even when they have personal scripture study every day, is it for 45-50 minutes? And is it real studying and pondering, or is it just reading?

    To make this a fair comparison, we’d have to determine how much time in seminary classes is spent with “real studying and pondering,” too. How much in classroom management, gathering supplies, dealing with goofy stuff, “just reading,” etc. Honestly in my seminary experience I remember almost zero time “pondering,” probably because 16-year-olds who are left to ponder start pondering the cute boy or girl in the seat next to them. ;)

    [In my area, seminary is actually done on the A/B schedule of the schools, so it’s 2-3 days per week (alternating approximately every other week) for a bit more than an hour. (Don’t get me started on how much I HATE the insipid A/B schedule created by idiot bureaucrats.)]

    Given the amount of time required to travel and attend seminary, I think the SAME amount of time COULD be better used if, for example, families spent the same time in study and then met less regularly with the group. But that’s not an option anyway.

    …even if they aren’t reading on their own at home (which they’re suppose to be doing) are studying the scriptures, IN DEPTH, every single school day morning.

    That was the crux of the question in the OP. I don’t make the ASSUMPTION that they are studying scriptures “in depth” or otherwise at seminary, nor do I assume they are being taught actual doctrine at seminary — because I’ve personally seen instances where neither happens.

    I’d agree that if the kids are having in-depth scripture study, properly implemented and correctly taught, every day, it would likely be worth the opportunity cost (given most likely alternatives). We are seminary devotees.

    But I don’t think I have (or will) ever make the assessment that a particular program is worth the resources unless I know the specifics (such as how it’s implemented, what is taught, etc.). Like you, if the situation was bad and couldn’t be resolved, I’d find an alternative.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…This is What Pro-Choice Really MeansMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith June 13, 2013, 9:10 am

    I’m sorry you don’t believe the story I told. Yes, it’s true. Yes, it was verified. I had about 9-13 kids in my class, a couple of slackers (actually, the “slackers” in my opinion were really just kids who had tougher questions than others), some moderate, and some extremely dedicated. I checked with some younger kids and parents. (I didn’t have a seminary student at the time.)

    After some investigation (not by me) it was determined that the teacher had worked at the calling at first, but had just burned out for about the last 18 months. She was released and a new teacher was called who was fabulous and very dedicated. (An employee of ours, actually, who had great attention to detail and was very disciplined.)

    As for why the kids didn’t complain, why should they? I find that few kids have some idea that a particular program/class is SUPPOSED to be a particular way, even if they’ve experienced it before. They often tend to assume the leaders know what they are doing and just go along. They have dealt with varied implementation by various teachers. (Primary music time, for example, can be wildly different depending on the chorister. Sharing Time can be completely different.)

    To be honest, I’m also not sure all the kids have some kind of general understanding of how the entire seminary world view looks, how the curriculum changes from year to year specifically, etc. Not to mention institutional changes that occur and over which they have no control.

    The YW “scoutish” program changed virtually every single year I was in it. We just went along with what the leaders said.

    One year our YW camp was very unstructured and free flowing. The next it was extremely scheduled and regimented. There was very particular reasoning for the massive changes, but not ONE kid in the entire stake asked me why camp had changed so much or why it wasn’t “like it was supposed to be.”
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Live Theater Etiquette for Dummies – Yes, YouMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith June 13, 2013, 9:14 am

    It just seems that if the classroom environment and instruction (or lack thereof) really was that bad, there would have been so many complaints by kids AND parents to Bishops, Area Supervisors, the Area CES director and the Stake President, that the person would have been chastised and likely released.) However, if the situation really was as bad as the kids made it sound, then I can guarantee you that such a teacher is a rarity and not the norm.

    To address this specifically, I didn’t ever hear the kids “complain.” They answered my questions when I asked specifically, but they weren’t bothered. They showed up, had their bagels, did their scriptures puzzles, saw their friends, left for school. From what I could tell they saw no need to complain.

    So, why would the parents complain to anyone?

    I hope I made it abundantly clear that our experience has been positive. So I agree it’s not the norm. The question is, how do you deal with the problems that arise?

    Even though our teachers have been great, we’ve still had problems, like the one explained in the post on T&S (linked to above).
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Why I Love “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” – and Also Hate ItMy Profile

  • Amber Nelson December 8, 2013, 9:45 pm

    I am currently a senior in high school. I have been enrolled in seminary for all four years. It has for sure changed my life. Each year is different and definitely has it’s own struggles, but it makes a difference. Just that small amount of time before going to school makes every day easier to endure. Kids at school can be awful and there are things you wish you didn’t have to go through while at school, but being able to start of the day with a group of kids who just want to learn and be better, is amazing! I haven’t always had great teachers. In fact, this year my teacher isn’t all that great! He isn’t very exciting and I tend to disagree with him on certain things. But my class has learned to help him by being leaders ourselves and opening discussions were the spirit can teach us. That’s who the real teacher is supposed to be anyways. As long as everybody is doing what they can to invite the spirit, seminary can be a great place taught by the spirit where youth can grow to be strong in these difficult days. I’m greatful for seminary and the things it has taught me. I would not be who I am today without it.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge