By Rod Johnson

Rodric believes Moroni included special instruction for Modern times and wants to share his unique perspective the same way Moroni shared in The Book of Mormon.

Education - Problem of Adult Participation in School

Study of the Problem

In Part Two of the action research project I discussed information regarding the subject group and its background. In this article, I will explore the problem.

Problem Description
Participation issues are not something new when it comes to religious discussion and lessons in many classes where most of the participants are men. Elders in the male Sunday religion class called Elders' Quorum for the Laveen Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not participate as actively in discussions or preparation for class time for the lesson portion of the Priesthood meeting. They did not attend class with the proper materials necessary for participation since this did take place during the time before everything could be pulled up on a smartphone.
Source: Mormon Channel: Faith in Action
All members of the Church of Jesus Christ have the opportunity to participate in the three-hour block of time scheduled on Sundays for worship and instruction in religious matters. Of the organized classes of the Church educational system, the Elders’ Quorum class seems to have the least time devoted by instructors for preparation;  therefore, the least prepared students.
Within Latter-day Saint culture there exists a stigma among the membership that the women’s organization, The Relief Society, better prepares all its teaching and curricular needs than the Priesthood organization based on the time and effort the Relief Society teachers devote to preparing the lessons specific to women. In cases across multiple cultural contexts and continents, I have witnessed where the church organization performed better under the jurisdiction of the Relief Society as opposed to the Priesthood organization--anecdotal observation but widely supportable.
The idea that Priesthood instructors generally fail to prepare properly may be considered isolated if it were a local phenomenon to a particular culture within the church organization, but the issue of less curricular preparation for priesthood meetings among Latter-day Saints has attracted the attention of media and culture within Latter-day Saint Christain society to the point that comedic references occur in casual conversation among most English-speaking LDS Christians with a direct and disconcerting understanding.
Church curriculum and education training exists to more fully instruct teachers to increase participation and understanding among all its members to prevent stagnation in class and defend against the loss of importance the weekly instruction adds to the continuation of church doctrinal purity and culture. Because the manuals are readily available for access by the members of the church and instructors, the push for church hegemony may have the adverse effect among the men to not strive as adamantly to have materials for class. Of course, all of that is now changed due to the internet and all of the hand-held devices we can use to help students better equip themseselves
Church among the LDS Christians is not a venue to debate ideas about religion' but more an expression of conformity to the established mode of worship. The elders expect to contribute little to the knowledge pool other than to agree with what morals the instructor presents. The problem in part connects to a lack in addressing the issue of participation with a specific plan.

Problem Documentation

A majority of the elders entered class not knowing the lesson to discuss in general--sometimes including the instructor!. As a member of the Elders Quorum and an active participant, I observed first-hand the problem with the lack of participation. Participation I defined is to contribute meaningfully based on knowledge of the subject discussed and the presence of proper class materials for use. I noticed the problem several years previously. To be fair to the Laveen Ward Elders' Quorum, this information is date because it was literally my graduate project and the same problems that existed then no longer exists. Still read though.


Firstly, the expectation of the teachers for the Elders Quorum class was generally to have necessary materials and a prior knowledge of the topic so that discussion and participation could ensue. This has always been a general rule of The Church of Jesus Christ education for all classes. I noticed that though the teachers desired the students to attend class prepared, no accountability strategy existed to measure if the students were aware of the expectation. Occasionally an instructor would remind the students to attend class prepared.
Another reason the problem remained unattended to was the plurality of instructors. The Elder’s Quorum did not have any uniformity among instructors for attendance policy or material expectation. The quorum had a different teacher each week with no consistent method of instruction to which students could adjust. The lack of a pattern of familiar instructions and inconsistency in instructors created the environment of a lecture rather than discussion as the Church Education System encourages. In this environment of lecture, the students rarely expect to contribute more than token responses to questions.


This lecture environment also caused the instructors in many instances not to fully apply the lessons to the needs of the students because, not only were the students unfamiliar with the instructors’ teaching culture, but the instructor could not grasp the real learning culture of the adult students with so little exposure to the learning group. One way that focus has changed since this time is that the leaders of the Elder's Quorum no push for a focus on needs within the quorum and activities to familiarize quorum members with one another. Had this been an effort during the time the initial study was completed, the instructors unfamiliarity with the learning culture of the students may not have been an issue.
Each week the class could expect something different and therefore the lecturing behavior of instruction became the norm as a result. As the new instructor, I attempted to make changes in that respect immediately and the class did not know how to respond to the facilitation approach without coaching.
The Elders Quorum presidency, because of the lack of coordination between the teachers for the quorum, adjusted the format for a singular instructor with the idea that so doing would promote a change within the instructional quality. The leadership eventually returned to multiple instructors to provide more opportunities for elders to serve one another, which is one of the basic tenets of Christianity.
None of the students brought writing materials to class or notebooks to document class notes because the instructors never set the expectation that there would be anything of worth to document during the lessons because it was all in the instruction manual! No thought was given to inspiration that may occur individually to students during the lesson, student or teacher. No previous instructor presented a pattern of instructions that would lead the students to a conclusion that any such material would be necessary.
The students in the class attend out of religious obedience and take to class what they expect to work with during class, which was nothing during that time. The instructor in this instance has great control over the participation and preparedness of the students by setting the expectation for the class. The fact that no expectation to participate beyond token questions was extended by any previous instructors in a predictable fashion provides evidence instructor negligence constitutes the most significant part of the problem history. Where the student is negligent in his education reflects the lack of expectation from instructions and a breakdown of those instructors to follow the CES as suggested.

By the time the men reached the end of the three-hour block of meetings they were ready to go home! The lesson was just a formality that needed to be endure until the closing prayer, unfortunately it was ans still is the reality for many.

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