Instructions for Teachers
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“Instructions for Teachers,” Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material (2017)

“Instructions for Teachers,” Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material

Instructions for Teachers

The Objective of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion states: “We teach students the doctrine and principles of the gospel as found in the scriptures and the words of the prophets” (Gospel Teaching and Learning: A Handbook for Teachers and Leaders in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion [2012], x). In seminary this is primarily accomplished through a sequential study of the scriptures, following the natural flow of the books and verses of a volume of scripture from beginning to end. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasized that “this is the first and most fundamental way of obtaining living water” (“A Reservoir of Living Water” [Church Educational System fireside for young adults, Feb. 4, 2007], 3, lds.org/media-library).

Another way we help students to understand, believe, and live the doctrine of Jesus Christ is through Doctrinal Mastery. Doctrinal Mastery supplements the sequential study of the scriptures by providing opportunities for students to study the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ by topic.

President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught why this doctrinal method of study is also beneficial: “Individual doctrines of the gospel are not fully explained in one place in the scriptures, nor presented in order or sequence. They must be assembled from pieces here and there. They are sometimes found in large segments, but mostly they are in small bits scattered throughout the chapters and verses” (“The Great Plan of Happiness,” in Teaching Seminary: Preservice Readings [Church Educational System manual, 2004], 68–69).

The sequential study of the scriptures and Doctrinal Mastery are complementary activities, and both are important elements of students’ experience in seminary.

Doctrinal Mastery builds on and replaces previous efforts in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion, such as scripture mastery and the study of Basic Doctrines. Doctrinal Mastery is intended to help students accomplish the following outcomes:

  1. Learn and apply divine principles for acquiring spiritual knowledge.

  2. Master the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the scripture passages in which that doctrine is taught. We will focus particularly on doctrine relating to the following nine topics:

    • The Godhead

    • The plan of salvation

    • The Atonement of Jesus Christ

    • The Restoration

    • Prophets and revelation

    • Priesthood and priesthood keys

    • Ordinances and covenants

    • Marriage and family

    • Commandments

Seminaries and Institutes of Religion has produced instructional materials to help teachers and students accomplish these outcomes. These materials include the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document and the Doctrinal Mastery teacher material. (Note: Doctrinal Mastery teacher material will be available for each of the four seminary courses.)

Doctrinal Mastery Core Document

The Doctrinal Mastery Core Document is addressed to students. It consists of (1) an introduction that explains what Doctrinal Mastery is and how it will be helpful to them, (2) instruction that teaches them principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge, and (3) a section on the nine doctrinal topics previously listed. Each doctrinal topic includes statements of doctrine that are relevant to the students’ lives and important for them to understand, believe, and apply.

Some of the doctrine and principles in the “Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge” and “Doctrinal Topics” sections of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document are supported by doctrinal mastery scripture passages. There are 25 doctrinal mastery passages for each course of study (Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants and Church History), for a total of 100 passages. A list of these passages is provided at the back of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Helping students to remember and locate these passages and to understand how the passages teach the Savior’s doctrine is an important part of your work as a teacher.

Each of the 100 doctrinal mastery passages is used to directly support only one statement of doctrine in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. For example, Joseph Smith—History 1:15–20 is cited in doctrinal topic 4, “The Restoration,” to support the truth that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith in response to Joseph’s prayer, and They called him to be the Prophet of the Restoration. However, this doctrinal mastery passage could also be used to support the truth in doctrinal topic 1, “The Godhead,” that there are three separate personages in the Godhead: God, the Eternal Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost. Therefore, this doctrinal mastery passage is listed as a related reference in that topic.

Noting where each doctrinal mastery passage is cited allows you to know in which learning experience that particular passage will be treated in the Doctrinal Mastery teacher material for the current year’s course of study. In the preceding example, Joseph Smith—History 1:15–20 will be treated in the learning experience for “The Restoration” in the Doctrinal Mastery Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Teacher Material.

Not every doctrinal topic will receive the same level of emphasis every year. Though each doctrinal topic will be covered every year, only the specific statements of doctrine that are supported by doctrinal mastery passages associated with a given year’s course of study will be emphasized in the Doctrinal Mastery learning experiences for that year.

Doctrinal Mastery Teacher Material

The Doctrinal Mastery curriculum consists of 10 learning experiences to be covered during the year’s course of study. In many cases, the instructional material for each learning experience will need to be taught during more than one class session.

The first learning experience focuses on helping students learn and apply principles related to acquiring spiritual knowledge. This should be taught within the first two weeks of the school year. It will help students catch the vision of doctrinal mastery. In addition, the principles taught in this learning experience provide a foundation that will be built upon and revisited during the subsequent nine learning experiences that will be taught during the remainder of the year.

Each of the subsequent learning experiences is based on one of the nine doctrinal topics listed previously. They are designed to help students understand the Savior’s doctrine more deeply and apply it more readily in their lives. Each of these learning experiences consists of three main parts: “Understanding the Doctrine,” “Practice Exercises,” and “Doctrinal Mastery Review.”

Understanding the Doctrine. This part of each learning experience includes a series of learning activities, or segments, that can be taught during one or more class sessions. These activities will help students develop a deeper understanding of each doctrinal topic and specific statements of doctrine associated with each topic.

“Understanding the Doctrine” segments usually begin with a study of the doctrinal topic in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. In addition, the segments focus on particular statements of doctrine supported by the doctrinal mastery passages specific to the volume of scripture for the year’s course of study. For example, in the learning experience for “The Godhead” in the Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material, teachers are instructed to help students master 2 Nephi 26:33; 3 Nephi 11:10–11; 3 Nephi 12:48; and 3 Nephi 18:15, 20–21. As students study the New Testament and the Doctrine and Covenants and Church history during other years of their seminary experience, they will focus on additional doctrinal mastery passages that support other statements of doctrine associated with the topic “The Godhead” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document.

In the “Understanding the Doctrine” segments, students are encouraged to locate, mark, and study doctrinal mastery passages so they can use them to teach and explain the statements of doctrine the passages support. You may want to add additional learning activities as needed to help students master the statements of doctrine and the doctrinal mastery passages that support them.

Practice Exercises. Most learning experiences provide at least one practice exercise for students. These exercises typically consist of case studies, role plays, scenarios, or questions that students can participate in or discuss together in small groups or as a class. These exercises are vital to helping students understand how the doctrinal statements they have been learning are relevant to modern circumstances. The exercises also emphasize how the doctrine students have learned can bless and assist them in living the gospel and in teaching the gospel and explaining their beliefs to others in a nonthreatening, inoffensive way.

Doctrinal Mastery Review. Each learning experience includes a section with ideas to help you lead students in a review of the doctrinal statements and related doctrinal mastery passages that they have learned throughout the school year. The purpose of the “Doctrinal Mastery Review” activities is to help students accomplish the following outcomes of Doctrinal Mastery: Know how the statements of doctrine are taught in doctrinal mastery scripture passages and be able to remember and locate those passages; explain each statement of doctrine clearly, using the associated doctrinal mastery passages; and apply what they learn in their daily choices and in their responses to doctrinal, social, and historical issues and questions (see “Introduction to Doctrinal Mastery” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document).

Although time estimates are not included with “Doctrinal Mastery Review” activities, time is allotted for review activities in the pacing guide near the end of these instructions. For example, 150 minutes are allotted for the topic of acquiring spiritual knowledge. Because the learning experiences for that topic require approximately 80 minutes, you have an additional 70 minutes to review the principles, statements of doctrine, and doctrinal mastery passages associated with acquiring spiritual knowledge. In this example, the time allotted for review could be spread out over two or three weeks.

Frequently reviewing the doctrinal statements and the doctrinal mastery passages used to support them will help students in their mastery efforts. However, be careful not to allow “Doctrinal Mastery Review” activities to overshadow sequential scripture teaching or the intended outcomes of Doctrinal Mastery.

Implementing Doctrinal Mastery

Doctrinal Mastery is implemented differently based on the type of seminary program students are enrolled in: daily seminary (early-morning and released-time programs), online seminary, or home-study seminary.

Doctrinal Mastery in Daily Seminary

Doctrinal Mastery does not replace sequential scripture teaching in seminary. It is anticipated that you will spend approximately 30 minutes of class time per week throughout the school year on Doctrinal Mastery. Implementing Doctrinal Mastery while teaching the Book of Mormon sequentially will require you to start class on time and use your classroom time efficiently.

The number of weeks spent on each of the 10 Doctrinal Mastery learning experiences will vary depending on the number of doctrinal statements and doctrinal mastery passages to be emphasized and studied for that doctrinal topic. Some topics will be adequately covered in one week, while others will require additional weeks to complete (see the “Book of Mormon Doctrinal Mastery Pacing Guide” near the end of this section).

The “Understanding the Doctrine” part of each Doctrinal Mastery learning experience is divided into learning activities (segments) that can generally be completed in 5 to 10 minutes each. This allows for a flexible approach to using class time for Doctrinal Mastery. For example, one day you may plan to cover one or two learning activities during class, while on another day you may need the full class session to sufficiently cover the scripture block, leaving no time for Doctrinal Mastery. Some learning activities require more time, so you may want to do them on a flexible teaching day (see “Pacing Guide for Daily Teachers” and “Suggestions for Flexible Days” in the appendix of your teacher manual).

If you teach Doctrinal Mastery on the same day that you will also be teaching a sequential lesson on a scripture block, be careful not to allow the amount of time spent teaching Doctrinal Mastery to infringe upon the time needed to teach the scriptures sequentially. (For example, 5-minute “Understanding the Doctrine” segments should not regularly last 20 minutes, leaving little time to teach the Book of Mormon sequentially.) In addition, it may be helpful to explain to the students that they will work on Doctrinal Mastery for a certain period of time (such as 5 or 10 minutes at the beginning of class) and will then study a particular scripture block (such as 2 Nephi 4) for the remainder of the class session.

Although there may be times when you or your students recognize connections between the Doctrinal Mastery material you study and a particular scripture block, avoid improperly imposing principles and statements of doctrine from the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document onto a scripture block. Doing so can prevent students from understanding the intent of the inspired author of the scripture block.

In addition to addressing doctrinal mastery scripture passages topically as a part of Doctrinal Mastery, you should emphasize those same passages as you encounter them in your sequential study of the scriptures with students. Doing so will help students gain a greater understanding of the context and content of each passage, as well as magnify the importance of the truths each passage teaches.

In daily seminary, Doctrinal Mastery builds upon and replaces the scripture mastery program. For those doctrinal mastery passages formerly identified as scripture mastery passages, the Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual contains suggestions and learning activities that will help you give the passage an appropriate emphasis in your sequential scripture study with students. Where the doctrinal mastery passages are new, the teacher manual will not identify the passages as such; it will be important for you to emphasize the passages effectively and appropriately as a part of sequential scripture study.

Some scripture passages are identified in the Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual as scripture mastery passages but are not doctrinal mastery passages. These passages should no longer be emphasized according to the scripture mastery instructions in the manual, but they should be covered in the normal flow of sequential scripture study.

Because you will need the limited classroom time allotted for Doctrinal Mastery to focus on a study of the doctrine and the doctrinal mastery passages and to complete the practice exercises and review activities, you likely will not have time for memorization activities in class. However, because the memorization of scripture passages can bless students, you may invite students to memorize doctrinal mastery passages outside of class.

Book of Mormon Doctrinal Mastery Pacing Guide

The number of weeks spent on each of the 10 learning experiences for the Book of Mormon varies, depending on the number of key statements of doctrine and scripture passages to be studied for the doctrinal topic. Approximately 30 minutes per week should be spent on Doctrinal Mastery using the following learning activities:

  • Understanding the Doctrine segments

  • Practice Exercises

  • Doctrinal Mastery Review activities

For example, in the accompanying pacing guide, four weeks are given for Doctrinal Mastery activities related to the Godhead. During the first week, you could do the first three segments of “Understanding the Doctrine.” For the second week, you may choose to do segments 4–6. In the third week, you could do segments 7–8. And in the fourth week, you could do the practice exercise and the “Doctrinal Mastery Review” activity.

Reviewing the curriculum in the Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual for the upcoming week alongside the Doctrinal Mastery learning activities contained in this Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material will help you plan for and allot class time to Doctrinal Mastery. You may need to identify portions of lessons that can be summarized to create time for Doctrinal Mastery learning activities and practice exercises.

The following pacing guide is based on an approach of covering doctrinal topics in the sequence in which they occur in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. However, as long as the “Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge” learning experience is taught first, the other doctrinal topics may be taught in any order. Consider the following two approaches:

  • Cover the doctrinal topics in the sequence in which they occur in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document (beginning with “The Godhead” and concluding with “Commandments”).

  • To the extent possible, align students’ study of the doctrinal topics with those they will study in their Sunday meetings (see Come, Follow Me: Learning Resources for Youth on LDS.org).

This pacing guide is intended for teachers who want to teach Doctrinal Mastery in smaller segments multiple days per week. If you desire to teach the Book of Mormon Doctrinal Mastery material in a once-per-week format, there is a suggested pacing guide in the appendix of this manual.

Pacing Guide

Week

Doctrinal Topic (with approximate number of minutes to allot)

1

Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge (150 minutes)

2

3

4

5

6

The Godhead (120 minutes)

7

8

9

10

The Plan of Salvation (90 minutes)

11

12

13

The Atonement of Jesus Christ (180 minutes)

14

15

16

17

18

19

The Restoration (30 minutes)

20

Prophets and Revelation (30 minutes)

21

Priesthood and Priesthood Keys (30 minutes)

22

Ordinances and Covenants (90 minutes)

23

24

25

Marriage and Family (60 minutes)

26

27

Commandments (180 minutes)

28

29

30

31

32

Doctrinal Mastery in Online Seminary

Doctrinal Mastery learning activities will be incorporated into the online seminary lessons. If you teach an online seminary class, it will be helpful to review the previous section on “Doctrinal Mastery in Daily Seminary” to help you understand important principles and practices that could be adapted and applied in an online seminary environment.

Doctrinal Mastery in Home-Study Seminary

At this time the materials that home-study teachers and students use have not been updated to include Doctrinal Mastery content. Therefore, teachers and students should continue to use the current home-study materials and included scripture mastery activities. Until the home-study materials are updated, teachers are encouraged to provide students with copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document and to encourage them to study it and the doctrinal mastery scripture passages on their own..