A new year of school is starting and with that, a new year of seminary! My mom, Rochelle, teaches seminary to me and my class in Texas. I thought I’d ask her a few questions as we all prepare for a new, successful seminary year.
Jane: What’s the area of study this year?
Rochelle: Don’t you know this already? Just kidding, thanks for the planted question. New Testament. In years past, this was taught two different ways: either by book order or by event. The Gospels repeat many events of the Savior’s life, depending on who is writing the story. But this year, you will be studying the New Testament starting from Matthew and going straight through to Revelation. (Meaning, we’ll cover the nativity, crucifixion, etc. more than once.)
Jane: How big is our class?
Rochelle: About 25 juniors and seniors from three different wards
Jane: Is it true we don’t have scripture mastery anymore??
Rochelle: Yes. But don’t panic. We still have 25 scriptures to learn. Starting this year, we will be doing “Doctrinal Mastery”. This will kind of mirror your curriculum for Sunday lessons. For each ‘doctrine’, we will have scriptures to back it up. A doctrine is an eternal truth. Something that was the same in the pre-mortal existence, here on earth, and in the eternities. Some of the topics are principles and some are eternal doctrines. Each year, we will have the same topics, but different scriptures. We won’t have as much time to memorize the scriptures in class, so students will need to take the time at home. This is a great thing to do as a family.
Jane: Can we still use our phones for scriptures?
Rochelle: Yes. But this year, I’m hoping everyone puts them on airplane mode. You’re my only student who uses paper scriptures, so I guess this isn’t really an issue for you. When you’re snapchatting seminary, I know it. Ha!
Jane: Mom, you’ve taught early morning seminary for a few years and you were a student in release time seminary. What are the differences since you’ve done both?
Rochelle: Everyone is just more awake at 2 pm. But, I think our early morning classes are pretty lively. Considering the circumstances. I’ve found that the students who are in class and awake at 6 am really want to be there. I remember kids in my classes when I went to high school were going because it was an easy class and a break from the normal school day. A lot of ‘too cool for school’ jocks were in seminary and that could sometimes be a distraction. But we have our own distractions in the morning, too. Like kids who come in late because they slept in. When I was in high school, the kids who sat on seminary council were popular and it was as prestigious as being a student body officer. That is CERTAINLY different from early morning. Nothing about going to a church class before school every morning is popular. We just have some really dedicated students.
Jane: So, what kind of teachers did you have?
Rochelle: Most were amazing. Some are kind of ‘famous’ now. But not all were great. I’m sure it’s a lot like early morning. You don’t always get the best teachers. But you do get people dedicated to the gospel, and that means a lot. Release time seminary teachers get paid. It is their full-time job. Early-morning teachers often have another job on top of it. So, their lives get really busy.
Rochelle: Now it’s time for me to ask some questions. What are you most excited about this year?
Jane: I’m excited to learn about the Savior’s life and the miracles he performed. I’ve read the New Testament, but now I’m excited to actually study it.
Rochelle: What are you not excited about this year?
Jane: The assessments. I don’t mind getting up early, but I don’t like taking the assessments. They’re boring. It’s like, ‘duh’.
Rochelle: What was your favorite moment in seminary last year?
Jane: I liked the parties. I can’t choose one thing. I liked the activities when you would dress up to illustrate the principles we were learning.
I liked where we did stuff like getting up and slinging marshmallows at Goliath or building houses of cards or constructing play-dough walls.
Rochelle: Is there anything else you want to know about the coming year in seminary?
Jane: I guess. How are you going to fit doctrinal mastery and the regular lessons in? Is it still going to be fun?
Rochelle: Yes! Our class is always fun! But we will be covering a lot of ground. Most mornings, we will do DM before the lesson. We may even have you students teaching us DM in your devotionals. The good news is, there is less to cover in the New Testament than the Old. So, I’m hopeful that it will be a good year to transition to this new program.
I’m really excited about it. Youth need to have testimonies rooted in the doctrines of the gospel. I’ve felt this way for many years and have emphasized doctrine in our lessons. This is really inspired from our Prophet and Apostles.