“Doctrinal Mastery Training,” Seminary Curriculum Training (2022)
“Doctrinal Mastery Training,” Seminary Curriculum Training
In 2016, President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles introduced the essential purpose of doctrinal mastery in the lives of the youth today and the important role that you as a seminary teacher have in implementing it:
It was only a generation ago that our young people’s access to information about our history, doctrine, and practices was basically limited to materials printed by the Church. Few students came in contact with alternative interpretations. Mostly, our young people lived a sheltered life.
Our curriculum at that time, though well-meaning, did not prepare students for today—a day when students have instant access to virtually everything about the Church from every possible point of view. Today, what they see on their mobile devices is likely to be faith-challenging as much as faith-promoting. …
In light of these challenges, the Board of Education recently approved an initiative in seminary called Doctrinal Mastery. … This new initiative will focus on building and strengthening our students’ faith in Jesus Christ and fortifying them with increased ability to live and apply the gospel in their lives. Drawing on the scriptures and the words of the prophets, they will learn how to act with faith in Christ to acquire spiritual knowledge and understanding of His gospel. And they will have opportunities to learn how to apply the doctrine of Christ and gospel principles to the questions and challenges they hear and see every day among their peers and on social media.
This initiative is inspired and timely. It will have a wonderful influence on our young people. However, the success of Doctrinal Mastery, and of all the other programs of study in CES, will depend to an important extent upon you. (M. Russell Ballard, “The Opportunities and Responsibilities of CES Teachers in the 21st Century” [evening with a General Authority, Feb. 26, 2016], broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org)
What stands out to you from what President Ballard shared?
Why do you think the youth today need to be prepared in a different way than past generations to strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ?
In the teacher manual, doctrinal mastery learning experiences have been included every week to help students accomplish the outcomes of doctrinal mastery. These outcomes include helping students
learn and apply divine principles for acquiring spiritual knowledge and
master the selected scripture passages and the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ that they teach.
By mastering the selected passages and the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ they teach, students will be able to
know and understand the doctrine taught in the doctrinal mastery scripture passages;
explain the doctrine clearly using the associated doctrinal mastery scripture passages;
apply the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge in their daily choices and in their responses to doctrinal, personal, social, and historical issues and questions; and
remember and locate the doctrinal mastery passages and memorize the key scripture phrases.
You can introduce students to the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge by teaching “Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge” parts 1, 2, and 3. Be sure to teach each of these lessons when seminary is in session near the beginning of the school year. These lessons provide foundational principles that the other doctrinal mastery lessons will build on. The acquiring spiritual knowledge lessons should be taught every year of seminary. Each part introduces students to one of the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge.
Part 1: Act in faith
Part 2: Examine questions and concerns with an eternal perspective
Part 3: Seek further understanding through divinely appointed sources
There are two lessons associated with each doctrinal mastery passage, a contextual lesson and the doctrinal mastery lesson. The outcomes of doctrinal mastery are addressed together in these two lessons.
In the contextual lesson, the doctrinal mastery passage is introduced in the context of the scripture block. Students should spend sufficient time studying the doctrine the passage teaches so that they know and understand it. This helps prepare students to explain and use the doctrine in the following doctrinal mastery passage lesson.
In the doctrinal mastery passage lesson, students will have an opportunity to explain the doctrine using the doctrinal mastery passage and to begin memorizing the scripture reference and key scripture phrase. You could also encourage students to memorize the entire passage. Helping students explain the doctrine and memorize the reference and key scripture phrase are important outcomes of doctrinal mastery. These learning activities do not need to take a lot of time, but it is important that they be prioritized.
The “Practice application” section should take the majority of the time in the doctrinal mastery passage lesson. Each practice application section begins with an opportunity for students to review the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge. Students should regularly review these principles so they become confident using them. Be careful to not assume that because one or two students know the principles well that all of your students know them.
After reviewing the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge, students will then be presented with a scenario that illustrates a question or situation where a correct understanding of true doctrine can help. Students can practice using the doctrine taught in the doctrinal mastery passage and the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge to respond to the question or situation.
You can adapt the scenarios and the suggested questions or other learning activities as needed to better meet the needs of students. Be sure that any adaptations still give students opportunities to practice applying the doctrine and the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge to a realistic situation.
You will also notice that at the end of each doctrinal mastery lesson is a suggested review to do in class a few days later. These review activities are designed to help students memorize the scripture reference and key scripture phrase for each of the doctrinal mastery passages.
Some weekly scripture blocks in the Come, Follow Me pacing do not include a doctrinal mastery passage. In order to provide students with a weekly experience with doctrinal mastery, the teacher manual, student manual, and online seminary curriculum include a doctrinal mastery review as one of the five lessons in these weeks. These lessons are designed to help students to memorize the scripture references and key scripture phrases, understand the doctrine, and apply the doctrine.
If there is a doctrinal mastery passage lesson that students have missed or will miss because of a break in their school schedule, you should teach these doctrinal mastery passage lessons in place of a doctrinal mastery review. The contextual lesson associated with the doctrinal mastery lesson will also need to be moved to replace another lesson during the week. Refer to the local pacing guide provided by your coordinator or program administrator to see when you should teach doctrinal mastery lessons that students miss because of their school schedule.
The following trainings teach skills that can help students achieve doctrinal mastery. Each training (1) identifies and defines the skill, (2) provides a model and practice for how to use the skill, (3) includes an opportunity to reflect by analyzing the skill, and (4) extends an invitation to incorporate the skill into your teaching.
Sharing a reason for doing a doctrinal mastery activity can motivate the students to engage in the activity. It can also allow for the Holy Ghost to teach them about the activity’s importance. After you state what the class will be doing, share one or two reasons why you are doing the activity so students can understand the value of doing it.
“Class, for the next few minutes we are going to explain the doctrine we learn from Luke 2:10–12 that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. One reason we are doing this is to help us be able to confidently respond if someone we know asks us why Jesus Christ is important to us.”
Complete the following prompts.
“Okay, class. Let’s do an activity that will help us memorize the doctrinal mastery reference with the key phrase. One reason we are working to memorize this is …”
“For the next few minutes, we are going to review the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge. Knowing these principles can help us …”
“We are going to practice using the three principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge. Using these principles can …”
What are you learning as you practice explaining the reasons for doing a doctrinal mastery activity?
As you prepare each doctrinal mastery activity, write down at least one reason it will be of value to students.
As you regularly review the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge with your class, the Holy Ghost can help students remember and use them in times of need. You can invite students to review these principles before you share the scenario or while they are working through the scenarios. These invitations include an opportunity for students to review at least one principle, instructions for how long they should review the principle, and an opportunity for them to share what they learned. By doing this, students will be better able to use the principles as part of the practice application.
Today as we review the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge from the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document (2018), we will divide into groups of three. Each group will review a different principle.
One group will review “Principle 1: Act in Faith.”
Another group will review “Principle 2: Examine Concepts and Questions with an Eternal Perspective.”
And one group will review “Principle 3: Seek Further Understanding through Divinely Appointed Sources.”
Take three to four minutes to read and prepare to share with your group one way your principle can help someone who is facing a difficult question or circumstance.
Write down an invitation for each student to review one principle of acquiring spiritual knowledge.
Practice extending your invitation to a colleague, family member, or friend.
As you practice, what are you learning about the importance of extending a clear and deliberate invitation to review the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge?
Write down a plan to consistently invite students to review the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge.
After students review the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge and read the practice scenario, ask them questions that invite them to verbalize what principles could help in the scenario. Your questions should:
Help students address all three principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge.
Allow students to express what they think and feel.
As students seek to answer these questions, they will be better prepared to face the questions and circumstances in their lives with faith.
Remember that students have already reviewed the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge and studied the scenario.
Which principle of acquiring spiritual knowledge would help you in this scenario, and why?
How could that principle help you when you face a question like the one in this scenario?
How else do you think this principle could be helpful?
How might a different principle of acquiring spiritual knowledge be helpful in this scenario?
Remember that students have already reviewed the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge and studied the scenario.
Complete the following activity with one other person. You are the teacher, and the other person is your student. Your student has just completed reading and pondering the following scenario. Ask the student the questions in the model and let him or her answer.
One of your friends who is not religious recently saw a pair of missionaries talking with some people in the park. Your friend asked you, “Why do missionaries from your church go out and preach about Jesus? It seems like you’re trying to force your beliefs on other people. Why can’t you just let them be happy as they are?”
Take five minutes and write down more questions you could ask to help students verbalize how the three principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge could help them and others with difficult questions or circumstances.
What can happen in students’ lives as they verbalize how the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge can help them and others when facing a difficult question or circumstance?
What can you do to help students verbalize how the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge can help them and others when facing a difficult question or circumstance?
Imagine how your students will be able to address questions or concerns after four years of practicing doctrinal mastery. In the beginning, students will need more help and support from you as a teacher to apply the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge and the doctrine to real-life situations. However, as you continue to implement doctrinal mastery in your class and give students regular opportunities to practice, applying the principles of acquiring spiritual knowledge and the doctrine will become something that students do naturally. This is one way you can help your students to build their foundation firmly on the rock of Jesus Christ and His doctrine. Please do everything you can to help your students to accomplish the outcomes of doctrinal mastery.