The description for the Elevate Learning priority notes that we should “establish expectations and provide opportunities that inspire students to have meaningful experiences with the word of God.” There are two desired outcomes associated with this priority this year. The first is that there is an increase of power and sense of purpose in the classroom because teachers are motivated and governed by a burning desire to fulfill the objective of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion, and the second is to strengthen the conversion that the students have to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Of the first outcome, Randall L. Ridd, former Second Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, said the following: "Imagine for a moment you are in a lifeboat on the ocean, with nothing but rolling waves in every direction, as far as the eye can see. The boat is equipped with oars, but which direction would you row? Now imagine you’ve caught a glimpse of land. Now you know the direction you must go. Does seeing land give you both motivation and purpose? People who don’t maintain a clear sense of purpose are drifters. Drifters allow the tides of the world to decide where they are going" (“Living with Purpose: The Importance of Real Intent” [worldwide devotional for young adults, Jan. 11, 2015]).
So we might say that teachers who don’t maintain a clear sense of purpose are drifters. Drifters allow the tides of the classroom to decide where they are going. The first outcome of the Elevate Learning priority encourages us to have a clear purpose and direction in our classrooms. Fulfilling this outcome will give us power in our teaching and learning.
Continually Strengthen Conversion
The second desired outcome states that attendance requirements, reading assignments, seminary learning assessments, and institute elevate learning experiences are always used as opportunities to deepen conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Gospel Teaching and Learning: A Handbook for Teachers and Leaders in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion states the following: “Students [and especially teachers] should understand that they are attending class to come to know Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and to progress toward eternal life through a study of the scriptures and the words of the prophets” (emphasis added; Gospel Teaching and Learning , 15). Students should have a clear understanding that attendance, reading assignments, and learning assessments and experiences will help them “progress toward eternal life.”
As you help students progress toward eternal life, “the youth will give place in their hearts for the seed of the gospel to be planted, to swell, and to grow. This will lead to conversion—the ultimate goal of your teaching” (Gospel Teaching and Learning , vii). Student attendance is about much more than simply filling seats in a classroom; it is about helping students “understand and rely on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ, qualify for the blessings of the temple, and prepare themselves, their family, and others for eternal life with their Father in Heaven” (Gospel Teaching and Learning , x). The Elevate Learning priority can help students prepare for lives of service and discipleship.
The June 2014 global faculty meeting provided us with many promises about the Elevate Learning priority. The following excerpts highlight what we can expect as we fulfill this priority:
“We believe that as we elevate learning for all students, they will have more confidence in the word of God and in their ability to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. They will be better prepared to share what they believe and to follow the Savior’s example. We want every student to benefit from these changes and to have edifying experiences as they study the gospel. To bless each individual, accommodations may be necessary to help some students meet these expectations. . . .
“You know, in this connection I think of the preparation that the pioneers made for the move west. When people went to them and said, ‘You’re going to face hardships and difficulties on this journey. A certain amount of food will be required for the duration of the journey. And in order to prepare you for the challenges that lie ahead, we think that you should put the following items in your wagon or your handcart.
“Now the people who were doing that were not threatening or requiring, they were simply advising. And they were blessing the lives of those who were going out on the journey. And I look on this set of expectations in the same way” (Paul V. Johnson and Dallin H. Oaks, 2014 Global Faculty Meeting: Elevate Learning Announcement).
You may review the entire video to learn about the additional blessings we can receive from fulfilling the Elevate Learning priority.