“Instructions for Teachers,” Doctrinal Mastery New Testament Teacher Material (2016)
“Instructions for Teachers,” Doctrinal Mastery New Testament Teacher Material
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 , 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/broadcasts).
Another way we help students to understand, believe, and live the doctrine of Jesus Christ is through Doctrinal Mastery. 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:
Learn and apply divine principles for acquiring spiritual knowledge.
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 plan of salvation
The Atonement of Jesus Christ
Prophets and revelation
Priesthood and priesthood keys
Ordinances and covenants
Marriage and family
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.)
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 doctrinal topics listed above. Under each of the doctrinal topics are 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 scripture 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 scripture 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 lessons for that year.
The Doctrinal Mastery curriculum consists of 10 learning experiences to be covered during the year’s course of study. The instructional material for each learning experience will likely 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” activities usually begin with a study of the doctrinal topic in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. In addition, the activities 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 New Testament Teacher Material, teachers are instructed to help students master Hebrews 12:9. As students study the Book of Mormon 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” activities, 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. Each learning experience provides 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 in 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. Frequently reviewing the doctrinal statements and the doctrinal mastery passages used to support them will help students in their mastery efforts. 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.
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, and home-study seminary.
It is anticipated that you will spend approximately 30 minutes of class time per week throughout the school year on Doctrinal Mastery. The number of weeks spent on each of the 10 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 two weeks, while others will require additional weeks to complete (see the “New Testament Doctrinal Mastery Pacing Guide” below).
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 time 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).
In addition to addressing key 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 New Testament 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.
Note: Some scripture passages are identified in the New Testament 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.
The number of weeks spent on each of the 10 learning experiences for the New Testament varies, depending on the number of doctrinal points 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
Doctrinal Mastery Review activities
For example, in the pacing guide below, two weeks are given for Doctrinal Mastery activities related to the Godhead. On Monday of the first week, you could do the first “Understanding the Doctrine” segment. On Tuesday you could do the second and third segments, and on Wednesday you may choose to do a three-to-five-minute mastery activity that you design or select from the resources in the appendix of the New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual. On Thursday you may choose not to do a Doctrinal Mastery activity because you need the full class time to sufficiently cover the scripture block, and on Friday you could do the fourth “Understanding the Doctrine” segment. For the second week, you may choose to do one additional teacher-selected mastery activity, the practice exercise, and the “Doctrinal Mastery Review” activity.
Reviewing the curriculum in the New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual for the upcoming week alongside the Doctrinal Mastery learning activities contained in the Doctrinal Mastery New Testament 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 points 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.
Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge
The Plan of Salvation
Prophets and Revelation
Priesthood and Priesthood Keys
Ordinances and Covenants
Marriage and Family
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.
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.