Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I go back and forth

My opinion keeps going back and forth on these new seminary requirements.  First of all, I think they had to do this, because they stopped teaching the scriptures in church- which I have a serious problem with.  I love the Come Follow Me program for YM/YW, but not for Sunday School.  LDS people used to be known for their scriptural knowledge.  Very few people have read or studied the Old Testament like we do, or did, I should say.  A graduating high school student would have read and studied the Old Testament at least twice, as well as all the other scriptures.  Not any more.  Since they will get each scripture thoroughly only once now, the requirements to pass have been increased.   Besides having to read the entire set of scriptures- which I really think should have been mandatory all along, they will have to take tests.
They make it very clear that the testing is for learning purposes and that you can take the tests as many times as possible until it is passed.  That's good.  Except when you realize that the tests are right in the middle of midterms and finals.   My children (and my husband and I, I might add) already get up before 5:30 am every morning, so that they can go to seminary.  Since they do compete in sports, they don't come home until close to 7 pm at night.  They are exhausted, hungry and still have homework to do.  Because we live in Europe and travel among competitors is so far, Saturdays are meet days.  It's a 4 am wake up call on these days.  This leaves Sunday as their only free/sleep a normal amount of time for a growing teenager day.  I encourage them not to do homework on Sundays, but some weeks they just can't help it.  Finals week is always a tough time, but midterms are especially hard, since sports are still going during those testing days.  Now we are going to throw another large test on top of that?  Oh, and by the way, you have to take it over and over until you pass it.  Are you crazy!!
The report on the LDS website quotes the scriptures:  Where much is given, much is required.  I understand this.  I also agree with the quote by Thomas Paine, "what we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly."  I agree 100% that release time seminary students should have to treat this as a class and do the class work and take tests.  I just think that the early morning seminary kids are already obtaining something a little on the expensive side.  Because, apparently teenagers need more sleep than me, yet I am exhausted every night by 8 pm, too.  I cheer every day there is no seminary.  So can I blame my kids if they grumble a little about it?  They don't.  They are actually very good.  But I couldn't blame them.  The only time they try to skip it, is usually one or two days at the first of each sport season when they are extra exhausted.  And I let them.  Because I don't want them to resent seminary or me.
Let's set aside the early morning argument and let's focus on another aspect of early morning seminary versus release time.  My husband is a former CES employee.  He taught seminary full time and got paid for it.  I have seen the process they go through to pick those teachers and it is cut throat. The release time people may not get their favorite style of teacher (emotional based, knowledge based, fun/game based), but they get some of the best teachers out there, hands down.  Now let's look at early morning- who do they get?  Not always your top of the line teacher.  It has to work with the schedule of whoever is called to do it.  That leaves a very small pool of people to choose- generally females whose children are all in high school or graduated or who don't have any children.  Sometimes there is that odd man who is self employed or something like that who can make it work, or a woman that can do it in her home while her children still sleep, but even with that the pool is small.  And from that small pool they have to choose the most likely to be able to teach.  It doesn't generally work out super well!  They do their absolute best, but even the best teacher has a hard time keeping sleepy teenagers engaged and now you have someone who may or may not know the scriptures well themselves and may or may not know how to teach worth a darn, trying to do it.  Not quite comparable- is it?!  Yet the requirements are the same.
So now the grumbling has started.  "Tests? They are making us take tests- during testing week!!"  "This is stupid.  I'm not doing it."  Etc, etc- all the things teenagers say when they are mad.  This is something I have never had to face before in regards to seminary.  And I'm not sure I can try to counter it, because I'm not so sure that I disagree with their being upset.  So, what would you do?  What do you think?  Am I missing something?
PS- after hearing that this post was passed around, I wanted to make absolutely clear that I am not saying that the early morning seminary teachers are the bottom of the barrel of anything.  I am not insinuating that my children have had terrible seminary teachers- they have more than a few and each one tried her hardest to engage the children and make them enjoy and love the scriptures, yet they are working at a disadvantage- is what I was specifically saying- they are not professional, they have little time to prepare and they are working with early morning, sleepy teenagers.  This is not comparable to full time CES employees.