Stringing the Pearls

Welcome to Book Report Tuesday!  I recently finished up Becoming a Great Gospel Teacher:  Bringing the Gospel Classroom to Life, which can be found here.  It was an easy read and had some good insights, though it wasn't the most ground-breaking tome on Gospel teaching ever written.

I have, however, been really struck by one theme throughout the book; that of each one of us taking responsibility for our own learnings.  The idea, as expressed by the authors, is that, as students, we should each be taking responsibility for our own Gospel learning instead of relying upon others – teachers, peers, leaders – to both supply a continuous stream of Gospel information and to do all the work of application in our lives.  For teachers, the foremost goal is simple:  expect the students to be responsible in their learning and to facilitate them doing so.

As a teacher in my Relief Society, I have seen a remarkably high level of engagement during class, but varying levels of preparation beforehand or sustained thought afterward.  Our sisters are wonderfully in the moment as the lesson is being taught, which is such a blessing to a teacher.  However, I have had a difficult time pinning down just how much the lessons stick with them as the exit the classroom.  Do the lessons leave with them, or do the sisters leave them in the classroom?

So, while the book gave some tips for encouraging students to take hold of their own education – some of which have been employed in our Relief Society – but at some point, the sisters have to decide for themselves whether or not to just do it.  As a teacher, I have been astounded by the incredible relational value each of our lessons have, simply by virtue of being part of the Gospel.  The cumulative effect has been one that has done away with my propensity to think about subjects within the Gospel – the Atonement, service, gratitude, work – in silos, each wholly distinct from the other.  Instead, I have begun to see the Gospel as this glorious whole, miraculously inclusive of every human question, activity or responsibility.

And that fact has increased my faith in a way I cannot entirely articulate.

It has been, for me, a process akin to stringing pearls.  A single pearl is not in itself all that amazing.  Sure, it's perfect and round and its luster is beautiful, but it's just a pearl.  What does one do with a single pearl?  You put it in your pocket and lose it.  However, when you get these pearls together, you start stringing them together, putting one pearl on the strand, knotting the string, putting another, knotting that one in place... And pretty soon, you have something much grander, much harder to lose, much more difficult to overlook.

It has been the same, for me.  Learning a principle here and there has been an amazing thing in my life...but what do I do with a single principle without the context of the Gospel?  I may try to apply it, but when it comes down to it, that one principal doesn't have the full force of the Gospel behind it.  In the process of taking control of my own spiritual education, though, I have begun to see each principal in light of the Gospel and have found connections between them.  Not only have I felt that each learned principle is much more securely in place, but I feel like my grasp of the Gospel has been magnified.  The Gospel seems so much grander than I previously imagined.


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Lauren Kay House © 2011