I am going to cover only the last three Seminary lessons in this post, because I’m a little short on time. I am going to GET MY HAIR DONE for the first time in months — what a relief. I’ve been so busy the past three months that I couldn’t spare the 3 hours to get there. I had an appointment last weekend, but I ended up pushing it back because of my visiting teaching and because I volunteered to help out at the school with a potato dinner for the band. My hair is down to my shoulders, my roots are two inches, and I can’t WAIT to get it cut back to normal!
This morning I added something new to our weekly exercises — a daily Seminary activity. John Bushman has posted a Five a Day Book of Mormon scripture mastery worksheet on his website that I am using. Wow. This is genius. I have the kids look over the sheet, and I just let them do what they want for 2-3 minutes. Some of them have already passed off the first several passages on the first page, so I let them do the activities for the other passages. Using this method, students will have the opportunity to pass off a scripture mastery passage every week by the end of the third quarter. I suspect that we will actually wrap up sometime during the second quarter, as these kids tend to move ahead when given the chance. God bless teachers who make my life easier!
After the scripture mastery worksheet introduction. I spent a few minutes at the beginning of class apologizing that I had asked kids to report on each other anonymously for cell phone or device violations. I will talk about this more in another post, but I handled this wrong and said so.
Because of the late start, we didn’t get to cover the entire lesson, but it went fine, I think. I taught this lesson from the manual. I think the list of the three places our burdens come from was particularly important. The manual used the following quote from Elder Whitney Clayton:
In a general sense, our burdens come from three sources. Some burdens are (1) the natural product of the conditions of the world in which we live. Illness, physical disability, hurricanes, and earthquakes come from time to time through no fault of our own. …
(2) Other burdens are imposed on us by the misconduct of others. Abuse and addictions can make home anything but a heaven on earth for innocent family members. Sin, incorrect traditions, repression, and crime scatter burdened victims along the pathways of life …
(3) Our own mistakes and shortcomings produce many of our problems and can place heavy burdens on our own shoulders. The most onerous burden we impose upon ourselves is the burden of sin. (That Your Burdens May be Light)
Because my students read, I dropped the rest of this exercise and had my students list examples of these things from the text. They were able to identify many.
I also read the quote in the manual from Boyd K Packer:
For the past several years we have watched patterns of reverence and irreverence in the Church. While many are to be highly commended, we are drifting. We have reason to be deeply concerned. The world grows increasingly noisy. Clothing and grooming and conduct are looser and sloppier and more disheveled. Raucous music, with obscene lyrics blasted through amplifiers … Variations of these things are gaining wide acceptance and influence over our youth. … This trend to more noise, more excitement, more contention, less restraint, less dignity, less formality is not coincidental nor innocent nor harmless. The first order issued by a commander mounting a military invasion is the jamming of the channels of communication of those he intends to conquer. Irreverence suits the purposes of the adversary by obstructing the delicate channels of revelation in both mind and spirit.
I put the bolded part on the board. I love it when I see students copying these things in their notes. Several of my students do this, which makes it worthwhile for me to put a meaningful quote or two on the board before class even though it’s a pain.
We spent some time talking about this, and I used the conclusion from the manual, which honestly, felt weak when I delivered it. I probably should have gone with my own conclusion.
This lesson also came mostly from the manual, and boy, I have to say — this lesson was boring. I spent too long on the first nineteen verses. I think I was nervous — a parent had called about her child who is not excited about Seminary, and he showed up today after a several day absence. He is a Freshman, and I am constantly reminding him to open his scriptures and follow along with the class. The other students remind him, too. As it turns out, the mother says she thinks that he is intimidated because the other students seem to know so much, and he is a kid who is very sensitive to being seen as not as skilled. I had another like that last year, and I think he will come around if he keeps trying. He is a very bright boy, and I’m sure he’s capable.
Anyway, the first ninteen verses weren’t great, and I spent too long there, not leaving enough time to focus on likening in verses 23-24. Here I went off book, and used my liken/apply poster to have the kids practice likening a scripture to themselves. My initial assignment was to use a scripture mastery passage. Someone asked if they could use one that was not from Book of Mormon, so I said yes. Then another asked if they could use any scripture. I said yes.
That kid, my class president, chose James 2:3 “ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing”. Wow.
So anyway, the exercise is a good one, but don’t give kids carte blanche on the scriptures they can choose.
1 Nephi 20-21:16
The manual treated chapters 20-22 as a single lesson. I decided it was too much to read, so I split it into two parts for my class. I stopped the second chapter at roughly the middle, but I wanted to get in the entire “graven in the palms of my hand” thought, so verse 16 it is.
While preparing this lesson, I couldn’t even read the lesson in the manual. I tried a few times, but I just couldn’t read it. It’s not like the page was blank, but it *seemed* blank, so I just taught my own thing here and didn’t bother with the manual. It doesn’t take much for me to go off on my own. I’m not one of those teachers who subscribes to the “they wrote it so this is what they want us to teach” system. To me, that’s an abdication of my right to receive inspiration for my stewardship. I’ve found if I’m not feeling it, it’s always better to go with my gut.
Nephi says in 1 Nephi 19:23–24 that he is going to teach us from the words of Isaiah so that he can more fully persuade us to believe in Jesus Christ and that we can have hope. I used these verses and description as the opener to my lesson, and we went through several verses looking for a deeper understanding of the Savior and for hope.
- v1 – This is addressed to baptized, covenant people of the house of Israel, so listen up
- v2 – The problem: they call themselves baptized, but they do not “stay themselves” on the Redeemer
- v5 – Why the Lord reveals things to His people
- vv 9-10 – There’s good news. Here I spent a little time on the furnace of affliction. Violet in the LDS Seminary Teachers Facebook group posted a link to the parable of the refiner that was really helpful. Gosh, that group is helping me so much. A pox on you, SI, for preventing professional teachers from being a part of it. How we need them!
- vv 12-13 – I am he. What can we learn about the Savior from these verses?
- vv18-19 – if you had kept my commandments, you could have received covenant blessings, relates to the Abrahamic covenant and New and Everlasting Covenant.
- vv 8, 10, 13 – hope, gathering, also when
- vv 14-16 – Students read these verses silently, while thinking of a time they have felt alone or discouraged. How might these verses help them in a time of loneliness?
After some pretty great discussion, I again assigned the class to use the liken/apply poster to liken a scripture to themselves from today’s Isaiah study. I didn’t ask them to share why they applied it to themselves (asked them not to share), but I did ask for volunteers to share which verses they chose.
This class went well, in my opinion. One student that has seemed to be having difficulty with some of the other lessons seemed particularly tuned in to this lesson. I think the message of hope and inspiration in these verses may have been particularly needed for her.
Also, funnily, the student who wrote two years ago in Old Testament that this Isaiah stuff is just the same old stuff she learned in Primary — nothing new — spent a good deal of time today talking about how amazing Isaiah is. It’s fun to watch these kids grow in maturity.
We had 10 kids absent. In years past, a 45% absence rate would have discouraged me. This year, I’m thrilled. What a great class we had with a smaller group! I am very seriously considering asking the bishop (again) to split our class. I am not sure that having this size of class is helpful for students. I realize that many teachers do teach a class of this size, and maybe I’m just flawed, but I think that 23 is too many. I think a dozen is about the right size class.
The Furnace of Affliction or the Parable of the Refiner’s Fire
There was a group of women in a Bible study on the book of Malachi. As they were studying chapter three, they came across verse three which says: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” (Malachi 3:3) This verse puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.
One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week this woman called up a silver smith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest in silver beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silver smith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot–then she thought again about the verse, that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.
She asked the silver smith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silver smith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”
He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy–when I see my image in it.”
If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you.
I’ve had a difficult time preparing to write this post. The last three weeks I’ve been like a volcano ready to burst. So. angry. It has felt like every single thing that could be sent to annoy me, was. I am one of those people who also gets upset on behalf of others, and so when I think an injustice has been done, I get worked up about that. I’ve been setting up payroll for caregivers, running errands, sorting papers and bills, and handling doctor visits, insurance inspections, and repairmen. And oh yeah — I teach Seminary. And I’ve got two kids of my own who are very active in school and church. And I live on a farm, and it’s fall clean up time. And it was the big service push for our stake this month.
Yep, skipped the Women’s Conference. I’d rather sleep. Plus three of the caregivers flaked at some point over the weekend, and I had to be here to check on the respite help the agency sent over. Honestly, I was done dealing with women by the time Saturday came around.
On top of my regular responsibilities, my grandmother passed away in Utah, and because Jared is out of the country on business for several weeks and my responsibilities here with my aunt, I can’t go to the funeral. Yesterday I read her obituary, and it made me sad again. If I were to summarize my life in a few paragraphs, would it be so generic that it could be anyone’s obituary, or have I actually accomplished anything unique? I suppose I’m afraid of being ordinary. It is vanity, I know.