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Monday, July 09, 2007

an open letter

Dear Seminary Teachers,

We have come to an impass, you and I.

Something needs to be done.

And by "something needs to be done", I mean, "please do something".

Let's discuss, shall we?

I am currently the Laurel Advisor. This means that on Sundays, I teach the 16 & 17 year old girls at church. Now, perhaps you don't consider this to be of the same caliber as what you do: either teaching kids at ridiculously early hours before school - nay, before the sun even rises, at your house (like what I attended); or getting up before school hours to drive to the church to teach the high schoolers before their school day (like what my husband attended); or teaching several classes all day long on the school's campus (like what the kids here do). And, honestly, what I do is, in reality, NOT of the same caliber as what you do, but that detail is neither here nor there. Here's what matters: I am counseled to stick to the manual. The teaching manual. The boring, blah teaching manual. I admit, I'll change things up now and again, changing the name "Roberta" to "Natalie" here and there, but my hands are tied. The bishopric comes in to observe our classes, and often. I can only do so much. The lessons in the manual get the point across, but there is little variety, or even allowance for straying from said manual.

Here's where you come in.

At the beginning of most lessons, Manual suggests that I perform some sort of a trick -- no, not magic, but an OBJECT LESSON. Cheerios in the bowl after the tennis balls. Drop of food coloring in the glass of water, removed by the drops of bleach. You know what I'm talking about.

How do I know that you know what I'm talking about?

Because after, if not during, each object lesson, these girls call me on it. They've seen it before.

"My seminary teacher already did this in class."

It is because of this that I say: STOP IT! I can only do what I can do. You, on the other hand, have much more creative license (which I know because my husband was well on his way to becoming a seminary teacher about 5 years ago, until we decided to take another path in life). I am constantly straining to come up with more effective ways to get through to these girls, and I don't even do ALL of the object lessons that are recommended. But when I do go to the trouble, it's more than insulting, as well as disheartening, to know that someone stole the idea from the manual I'm told to use.

No hard feelings?





sue-donym said...

D would make an awesome seminary teacher.

Maybe you SHOULD switch to magic tricks...

Tori :) said...

They are STEALING your object lessons??? What the..?!?!?!

Carina said...

When my parents were deciding to move back here one of the biggest concerns that they had, I kid you not, was seminary. They knew that we'd have to go to seminary. So my dad, the your-know-what-prof had serious reservations about sending us to a place where blasphemy and false doctrine is preached to children. Seriously.

Funny, non?

Emily said...

Wow, Azucar, I want to hear more about that. Is that Seminary everywhere or Seminary in Utah Valley? Did you go?

Sister Pottymouth said...

Someone needs to come up with an updated Manual. I remember these lessons from 20 years ago when I was a young woman. Now I'm teaching them to the Mia Maids.

Yes, Azucar. We need the Paul Harvey version of your story.

Heather said...

Lurker/Stalker being called out here...
Dahling-I have taught EM seminary for 3 years and now special needs seminary here in Utah Valley for the past 4 years--I can give you all the secrets of the trade a la David Blaine...imagine the ooohing and aahhing. plus added bonus..its summer time and we can trump the object lessons before they come out in the school year.

Carina said...

That is the Paul Harvey version, sometimes seminary does more harm than good. I know that I heard some KRAY-ZEE stuff from seminary teachers. If I weren't secure in my own beliefs, I certainly would have been mis-informed for life. Thank goodness I had an encyclopedic dad at home: "Dad, Bro Soandso said 'x' today in class, is that right?" That would prompt a discussion with a search for the evidence, etc. Not all kids are that lucky (or that questioning of what is spoon-fed to them.)

But, to bring it back to J5T's commentary, the lessons are a bit outdated. I'm not questioning the counsel you've received, but my young women's president told us to update the lessons and examples to get the spirit of the lesson across, to liken and make more applicable the ideas to the girls. How curious that they're often in your classroom. We might have a visitor once every two months.

Carina said...

One more clarification, I had some GREAT seminary teachers, including the (then) only full time female teacher in CES. My experience was mostly positive; I elected to do EM seminary instead of regular release time. I only had one teacher who told us all kinds of nonsense, so much of my dad's fears did not come to fruition.

QueenScarlett said...

My punishment for attending... maybe a whole year of seminary in my four years of EM seminary ... to teach early morning seminary for 2 years... ;-)

My parents weren't into forcing us up at the butt-crack of dawn... we were pulling all-nighters and well - I didn't turn out too arse here and there...;-)

I remember going and sleeping or gawking in horror at this one teacher's Gaudy 2-inch long fake nails... I think they were painted in fuschia like a tiger patter. And there was that ambulance chaser lawyer that was creepy as heck.

QueenScarlett said...


wendysue said...

I did both home study (met every other week I think?), then early morning seminary too. I dont' remember very many object lessons, though I do remember the home study teacher bringing pizza most of the time (that was the perk to be in that class!)

One object lesson I actually remember from a BYU ward. . .they took a bulletin board and put a picture of Christ up then covered it with paper (before class). They had each of us write something about someone that had bugged us, or something we were mad about. We posted them on the bulletin board and threw darts at it. After we were done, the teacher played some "efy-ish" song, and made us all cry as they took down the paper to reveal the picture and wrote the "unto the least of these my brethren" scripture.

How about that for making a bunch of Laurels cry? (I mean pay attention??)

I could even type the idea up and you could post it in your manual just in case there's a checker in the class that day!!

p.s. Laurel teachers get extra blessings!!

Anonymous said...

I have more of an issue with some object lessons than I do with seminary. (It's not like false doctrine is unique to seminary class--you should hear some of the stuff we get in Gospel Doctrine class from a certain religion professor--some of his stuff is right on and some of it is way out there.)

My favorite--not--is the nail holes in the fence one. Uh-huh!

This is a bit off topic, but I have a friend who is very open about her life and her beliefs. (Some people are uncomfortable with her, but I think she's a breathe of fresh air.) I will never forget the day she said over the pulpit in RS that she had issues with a certain GA. You should've heard the gasps from the blue-hairs. She went on to be completely honest about her point and I didn't see anything wrong with it.

Next day I happened to be at the office of our bishop. He came out to talk to me because he sees me as being pretty objective and he wanted my take on what was said. I was perfectly honest and told him there was nothing inappropriate about what she said and that it her comments actually facilitated the discussion necessary to teach the principle of the lesson.

Anonymous said...

ah, seminary... I'N DA KING.

i i eee said...

Are the comments moderated? I just wrote a big long thing and now I don't see it anymore. But I wasn't paying attention, so I'm going to comment again to see.

i i eee said...

Ugh. I guess blogger ate it up. Maybe it was some great force telling me that I shouldn't bad on Seminary teachers.