Youth are focus of CES training

Elder Kerr, administrators share ideas, motivation

The need to love and effectively teach youth and young adults of high school seminary and college institute ages was emphasized during a Church Educational System training broadcast originating from the Conference Center Theater on Tuesday morning, Aug. 7.

Church Commissioner of Education Elder W. Rolfe Kerr of the Seventy, and Garry K. Moore, CES Administrator for Religious Education and Elementary and Secondary Education, were among those who taught teachers, administrators and guests in the theater and thousands more by satellite broadcasts to meetinghouses around the world and via the Internet. Also attending were Young Women General President Susan W. Tanner, Administrator and Secretary to the Boards Roger G. Christensen, and other CES administrators and Church auxiliary leaders.

Elder Kerr said he believes the Lord is preparing the minds and hearts of the Church's young people to receive the word of God. He said teachers must also have minds and hearts prepared to teach.

He added, "The mind and the heart are crucial to the learning process — crucial to the learner, but absolutely imperative for the teacher as well." Further, he said, "We cannot expect our students to learn all that we hope they will learn by just hearing a concept or principle one time. Multiple presentations, utilizing various approaches, often appealing to multiple senses, increase the likelihood of our students actually learning and internalizing the concepts we teach."

After speaking of principles of teaching, Elder Kerr summarized: "Now what do I hope you will take with you from these few minutes of repetition? I hope you will remember that the mind and the heart are essential to the learning process; that the Lord requires your hearts and your willing minds. I hope that your focus will always be on the hearts and souls of your students, and that you will be consistent in your efforts to inspire positive change in their lives.

"I hope that you will see learning as much more than the mere acquisition of knowledge, but that there must follow understanding, belief, application and change. I trust that you will persist in your efforts to extend our exposure through increased enrollments and increase our impact by conscientiously working toward the mastery of effective teaching principles — becoming master teachers. I hope that you will become skilled in motivating and inspiring your students to take responsibility for their own learning, that your efforts will have a positive impact on their lives.

"Finally, I hope that you will love the gospel, love your students, teach with power and authority, and succeed at home first."

Since recently taking over the administration of CES, Brother Moore said he has pondered and prayed about the future of CES. He shared principles that came to his mind.

One principle is "each student is important, and when remembered and personally invited is likely to participate." He said that just as missionary work is best done through personal contact, "when students not currently enrolled are remembered and personally contacted, miracles can and will happen."

Another principle is that "when CES efforts are correlated and unified with those of other Church programs and leaders, individual students and families will be strengthened." He said, "We are all striving to strengthen and prepare the same youth," so things such as Young Women Values and Young Men Duty to God programs should be known and referenced in the classroom while parents, auxiliary and priesthood leaders should also know about CES reading programs, scripture mastery and teaching emphasis.

Brother Moore's final point was "the purposes and principles of the Lord's work won't change as the work rolls forth and fills the earth, but organizations, programs, policies, procedures and people must change." He told of his grandmother who was an excellent cook on her wood- and coal-burning stove and was reluctant to use the new electric stove her husband bought her.

"I have asked myself," he said, "and need to continue to ask myself, 'What old stoves am I holding onto in my life and in my CES work?' I invite each of us to ask ourselves the same question. … I feel confident that the progress of the work will largely depend on our willingness to implement divinely inspired changes."

A CES video presentation of the Old Testament story of Esther was shown, and then commented on by CES Associate Administrator Randall L. Hall. He said that just as Mordecai asked Esther if she may have "come to the kingdom for such a time as this" to save her fellow Jews, CES instructors should ask themselves if their life's paths and experiences have brought them to their current responsibility of training youth for specific reasons.

CES assistant administrator Richard Hawks reported on results of a study conducted by the Church Research Information Division measuring the impact of a "Teaching Emphasis" implemented in 2003. He said that the study discovered that classes with higher implementation of this "Teaching Emphasis" made a significant difference in student outcomes. Those students excelled in personal scripture study, said personal prayers more often and reported that they had gained stronger testimonies of the restored gospel. They also more often applied outside of class the principles learned in seminary and shared gospel insights and experiences more often with friends.

Another CES assistant administrator, Chad Webb, taught that the Holy Ghost has the power to take the gospel deeply into the hearts of seminary and institute students and encouraged teachers to implement ways to invite the Spirit into the classroom. Those ways include teacher preparation in commitment and worthiness, love and trust for students, encouraging and preparing students to participate and appropriate teaching practices.

E-mail to: [email protected]