Monday, January 2, 2012

The Difference Between Seminary and Sunday School

I was one of those precocious kids who didn't hear anything new in Sunday School for years. That was OK, since I knew there were other kids in my classes who had no (or little) instruction at home and desperately needed the milk. I supplemented my own learning at home with Sunday School, not the other way around. (Thank you, Mom and Dad, for helping me look at it that way - and to Church leaders who have said that is the ideal for decades.)

An analogy that I believe works for all kids:

Tall trees get knocked down by strong winds if the roots branch out instead of down. 

My fear with how teaching occurs in church classes is that not enough water will be used in classes that should provide "deep" instruction and/or too much water will be used in classes that should provide basic instruction. I view Seminary as the place for the meat and Sunday School as the place for the milk (relatively speaking). (If all kids who attend Sunday School can handle meat, I say go for it and teach more deeply. Just be sure none of them are choking. Otherwise, provide them with greatly enhanced milk.) My primary concern is that so few kids in many places are attending Seminary - and that Seminary sometimes isn't digging deeply enough and teaching students to digest meat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love the seminary program,it safely piloted me through the heavy waters of adolescence,and gave me a grounding for my testimony that has weathered further storms thus far.

That said,it requires a 5am start around here in sub zero temperatures when many kids are struggling with the most academically and physically demanding time of their lives.If they seek to excel at anything like classical music and dance or sports that require extra curricular activity,they have to make a choice.If their family lives too far away from the teacher's class,they can't get to school in time let alone eat. Many kids go through periods of ill health-there is no possibility of catch up once you get behind,there are simply not hours in the day.And if your parents commute,have young children or are not members,then it simply is not possible for lifts to be arranged consistently and reliably enough to enable kids to graduate.Then,when they don't,they are percieved to be less active or at least become disadvantaged in terms of the social group.So it becomes survival of the fittest around here,with kids finding themselves sidelined due to geography,health and other issues beyond their control.

Furthermore there is a competitive scramble between parents to teach so as to advantage their children in ease of attendance,and teaching is often awarded the family with the most seminary aged kids.Fair enough.

When I was of seminary age,our very clever Bishop managed to get us kids through this by using sunday school time for the class,of course I understand that is not the program,but it seems to me if we want all our kids to get through seminary with at least the beginnings of a level playing field,that's the way to do it.

All my kids have missed out on seminary due to ill health. We have done home study,but It has marginalised them when they needed all the support they could get.

I could look around the ward now and tell you which kids will make it through and it's down to geography not spiritual commitment.Some things are really not possible with the best will in the world.It makes me very sad.I love seminary.

Is anybody listening?